On Saturday afternoon, the Viking and I went to ABBA Girl’s apartment briefly to borrow an electric drill. I should start by describing her apartment: it basically looks like something out of an interior design magazine, all distressed floors and coffee table (apparently) made out of driftwood, cashmere throws, candles and gauzy curtains. It is stunning: a fantasy apartment, a haven of calm and beauty. Whatever I think of its occupant, I can admit that.
I’m gathering that she is kind of a party girl: at a bar one night last week, she and the Viking briefly discussed some guy she had been seeing that bit the dust, and I asked what happened and she shrugged in that way women who have never known rejection do, and said, “I got bored”. The Viking laughed and said, “she always gets bored.”
Anyway, when we arrived there was the most amazing smell of bread in the apartment. I asked if she lived near a bakery. She said no, she had just made some bread for lunch. From scratch. Made bread, from scratch, for a sandwich for lunch. I had had a handful of M&Ms and a carrot for lunch, and until then had been pretty proud of the carrot.
Also, we were borrowing a drill from her, because she has one. And uses it regularly, without drilling right through and getting an unexpected sight of her pretty startled neighbour sitting on their couch in their underwear, like I did once. When I first met ABBA Girl I assumed from her general poise and style that she must work in magazines or PR or movies or something, but in fact she works in IT. She is a regular person with a regular life, just perfect.
This is Professor Life is Swede’s first observation on the people of Sweden: they are kind of insanely, amazingly, almost comically, perfect. The blonde and beautiful thing we all know about. But they also all cook from scratch: impressive, fancy dishes for regular weekday dinners. Where I come from, a full time job is a reason to eat cereal or take out during the week, but the Viking gets home from a 12 hour shift and starts cracking eggs and pressing garlic and whisking… stuff, I don’t know. And everyone is super fit, but not in the make-a-huge-deal-out-of-how-much-effort-and-how-horrible-it-is kind of way Americans are, in this casual shrug, of-course-I-ran-10-kilometers-today-doesn’t-everyone way.
And crazy educated – at that first Midsummer dinner, they all had this big conversation about the Spanish Armada, which – like I’ve said I’m not super educated but I’m pretty well read and interested in history – I had never heard of. I googled it when we got home and it turns out it was an attack on England by the Spanish in the 1500s – it had nothing to do with Sweden at all. I asked the Viking how he knew about it and he – wait for it – shrugged, and said he couldn’t remember, probably from school.
They’re informed about politics and they don’t raise their voices. Everyone recycles and bikes across the city even in the rain. They speak English better than some Americans I know, and don’t think it’s a big deal. The Viking used a semi colon in a text the other day, and laughed when I told him I was impressed.
There’s nothing wrong with being perfect of course, but it does make it hard (er) to bond with people: I usually make fun of myself, and crack up with my friends about whatever stupid thing we just did, and I don’t know how I’m ever going to do that with my future Swedish friends. Maybe I’ll need to become perfect too?
Yeah, that’s going to happen.. 😉