At drinks the other night, I ended up in a slightly surreal conversation with Hockey Girl in which she warned me that Swedish people could be unfriendly and reserved. Yup.
Even though it didn’t go super well the first time I tried it back on Midsummer, I decided to ask her about how she and the Viking met. I already knew they worked together, but asked about how they first got talking or whatever. She said they had worked together four years before they spoke, and the Viking interjected to point out that she quit right after and he tried not to take it personally. They laughed about that (it was actually because she finally finished her law degree and went off to become a fancy lawyer), but I was like, “hold up… four years to talk to each other… why?”
They shrugged like that was completely normal and Hockey Girl said that it was, “very typical Swedish” and that four years to become friends was really quite quick. What now? She laughed at my expression and joked that Swedes were socially incompetent weirdos and should be pitied for their inability to talk to anyone they have known for less than a decade. I kind of chuckled politely with her, but inside was thinking… I thought you hated me! All this time you’ve just been shy and awkward?
There was an unfortunate (but oh so very me) moment when she said that romantic relationships are even worse – she has a friend who met a guy in a bar and he asked for her number… two years later. Also, it was her that asked Asterix out, and it was almost a year before they admitted to being a couple. I poked the Viking – who I moved in with after knowing a month – and giggled, “you guys must think I’m a whore, then, huh!” And her face froze a little and I could actually see her kind of clamp her smile on and force herself to be polite, at which point I remembered that she – very typically Swedish – is an über, super duper feminist and was obviously horrified at me using the word whore, even as a stupid joke. I cringed a little inside, then remembered to be neutral – it happened, it was what it was – and just carried on with the conversation.
It seemed to work – at least, the moment passed. She and the Viking told me some other funny stories about Swedes being weird (Asterix and ABBA Girl were engaged in kind of an intense conversation – they could have been talking about broccoli for all I know of course, but it crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be super thrilled about any woman, even a good friend, dominating my boyfriend’s attention quite so intensely right in front of me, but Hockey Girl didn’t even seem to notice), and they were really interested in my observations on them.
I told them about thinking that everyone was perfect, and Hockey Girl nearly fell off her chair cracking up at the idea I could live with the Viking and think Swedes were “perfect”. We laughed and he pretended to be offended, but then she said, what about his temper, and I saw his smile falter a little bit.
I know about his temper – in fact, it’s indirectly because of her that I saw it last week, but I could see right off that it isn’t something he likes to be teased about, so I loyally said that I hadn’t. She said something about how he doesn’t have any dishes left because he breaks them all if he stubs his toe, and I was like, “nope, we have plenty of dishes,” and she seemed to get the hint and shut up. He squeezed my hand under the table, and I realized that, for all their decades of friendship, I ‘get’ him just that little bit better, and I felt good.