Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Guilty as charged

Okay, I admit it. I'm guilty of impersonating a Swede. I didn't mean to do it, really. I was in a nightclub in Riga, and my two American guy friends had taken off with some buxom Latvian ladies. That left me with two choices for companionship: a) the Russian guys sitting at the bar, who looked distinctly like they might belong to the mafia; and b) a pair of fairly harmless looking British rugby chaps on holiday. I chose the latter, for various practical and linguistic reasons. I figured I could handle them if they got the wrong idea about my intentions. I was looking for someone to talk to, not to go home with to some grungy hostel.

So of course, one of the first questions they asked was: "Where are you from?" The answer to this question is not as straightforward as one might think. To keep things simple, I answered, "Stockholm." This led them to assume that if I lived in Stockholm, I must be Swedish. I didn't mean to mislead them; I just didn't want to explain my whole life story all the while shouting at the top of my lungs over extremely loud music.

And, very much similar to the men described in this situation, here they were, suddenly kids in a candy store. They must have thought that today was the first night of the rest of their lives. Here I was, a blond, tall Swedish woman (yes, I can "pass" as the stereotypical Swedish woman, with my blond hair and blue eyes, at least until I open my mouth and out comes svenska med amerikansk brytning) alone in a strange nightclub in a foreign city, and since I had been so bold as to have a conversation with them, I must certainly be planning on going back to their hotel to have an orgy with them. See Mamma Mu for an elaboration of what might have been going through their heads (sorry, its på svenska for the Swedish impaired).

The night quickly went downhill from there, and shortly I was headed home (alone) to my Soviet-era bed (but not before they both complimented me on my wonderful English skills). I am sure that the lads were quite disappointed, as I had fulfilled none of their fantasies about Swedish women. Meanwhile, I was fascinated (and disgusted) that their demeanor changed from somewhat reserved and polite to extremely forward (and downright obnoxious) within two seconds of learning that I was a Swedish girl, and all of the assumptions that go with that.

I'm not entirely sure what my point is in writing about this incident, but I guess it goes to show how assumptions can get you in all sorts of trouble. I've been accused of playing into stereotypes about "the strong, silent Nordic type" and have received some comments "we're not all shy guys!" Believe me, I understand. Being an American in Europe comes with its own heavy bags of assumptions, and accusations, that I have to disprove one by one. I just wanted to say that if you think that all I'm doing is bashing Swedish guys for their lack of initiative, think again. I would much prefer a man who thinks before he speaks than one who assumes I'm a nymphomaniac because of my nationality.

I should also mention that thus far, all of my "criticisms" of the shy guy approach (or lack thereof) have been about the first encounter -- the glance from across the room, the first "Hej!” the first date. I have refrained from commenting on the real bulk of my investigation, which is, as the title of this blog states "Under the Covers."

Stay tuned.


Blogger Swedish Girl said...

Ay, ay. The reputation of Swedish Girls - by the way, I'm not sure I've chosen a good nick... it's more to do with laziness than any Blonde Ambitions! - anyhow, the rep of the Swedish Girl, it complicates life a bit. I used to pretend to be Icelandic whenever I was abroad, according to the theory that nobody spoke Icelandic and could call my bluff. Turns out I was wrong on that one.

Curiosa, I love your by-line, by the by!

9:03 PM  
Blogger Curiosa said...

Thanks Swedish Girl. I like the byline too, which was funny because I came up with it as a joke. Then I decided I just had to use it. It was such a bad pun, it was actually good! (Kind of like those little pug dogs, which are so ugly they're cute?) Oops, I hope I didn't just insult my future husband's pooch.

11:36 PM  
Anonymous m l i said...

Curiosa, why refrain from commenting about the "under cover" stuff? I can understand if you want to leave out the "gore" (not really, but I'm expected to say that ;) but still it would be interesting to hear about any cultural differences on this topic :>

12:19 AM  
Blogger Curiosa said...

det kommer, jag lovar. det tar bara lite tid att formulera mina tankar om det... :)

12:23 AM  

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