Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Danish Lessons, Chapter 8

I have been in Denmark for a pretty long time--almost 10 months now. (Hey, I could have had a baby!) I like to think I have learned much along the way, and here are more uselessly sarcastic life lessons from Vikingland...

1. If a fabulous fellow American comes to town for about a week over Easter, don't freak out that you're smiling and laughing/snorting more than usual. It's fine; nay, enjoy it. (Your face could use a break from looking sarcastic.) Take her out to experience all that Copenhagen has to offer--this means good food, nights of frivolity, and of course a gnome statue or two.

2. Visit Hamlet's Castle. Why? Well, it's Good Friday; but mostly because it's there. Discover that the Danes of yore were clearly true visionaries, since to you, it seems they must have been inspired by all sorts of futuristic things: Narnia; Pandora's Box; George Balanchine's Serenade; various dungeon-inspired video games.

3. You will find no Easter eggs this year. In fact, you won't have eggs at all (except as an ingredient in delicious cake made by your friend hosting a lovely holiday dinner). This is shockingly easier to accept than you thought. Plus, no hard-boiled egg sandwiches for the next week, and no vinegary smell when dyeing said eggs, like at home.

4. Let's say your friend calls you up on a Friday night which you fully intended to spend indoors, doing nothing except maybe watching that one Robert Downey Jr. movie you own. Be glad that you decide to go against your initial plan when he calls you up to grab a drink. Enjoy your first wienerschnitzel. Be even happier when you run into another friend, and end up at a German-Danish folk band concert at a community center in your neighborhood, which ends up involving old music, a cute unfortunately married guitarist, and lots of foolish dance moves. Spontaneous actions = excellent fun.

5. Before dinner on Saturday night, you meet up with a good friend and two new soon-to-be friends at Palæ Bar for a pre-food beer. This turns out to be where the orchestra hangs out, but that actually doesn't matter. What does matter is that you may walk in to find yourself surrounded by really intoxicated people at a fairly early hour for such levels of drunkenness. They're not dangerous, but they do provide some of the best people-watching you have ever witnessed in Denmark. Like the bleached blond, stumbling drunk young(ish) woman, tottering into the low-key bar looking like she's going to prom 20 years too late. Feel free to wonder how her night ended up, especially after seeing her cozy up to a much-older gentleman whose outfit appears to have been inspired by old Mafia movies.

6. Go to a restaurant called Khun-Juk with your friends. It. Is. Amazing. Plus, the people who run the place seem to love the Royal Danish Ballet dancers, and you get free champagne and appetizers. Ok, so while you're waiting for your table you might be directed to an oddly empty bar showing crappy music videos on the flat screen TVs. But no worries, it's worth the wait. Also plus, the place inspires conversation topics ranging from monogamy to Villa Salo to the odd couple at the next table over. These are all ingredients which lead to a super Saturday evening in Copenhagen.

7. After dinner and drinks, avoid Danish design chairs. THEY ARE NOT MEANT TO BE SAT ON BY THE AWKWARD LIKES OF YOU. You might fall. Maybe. I'm just saying. (And later, if the power suddenly goes out at a bar, it's time to go home.)

8. Take any and every opportunity to go outside in Scandinavian springtime. The sunshine does shocking things to your mood; suddenly you're not cloaked in *so* much sarcasm. Or wool, for that matter. That's right: Bust out the tights and put on a skirt, it's no longer three-pairs-of-pants weather.

9. Let's say you're a U.S. Marine in a cool interpretation of Othello. The best way to warm up is to mock breakdance in the wings, which in turn inspires laughter, which in turn inspires your abs being ready to go. You will be paranoid about your waaaay too big army pants falling down, checking the flimsy belt for security multiple times (much to the amusement of your fellow dancers) before going onstage. But your pigtails will be a minor hit, and provide for some eye-opening photo-ops. Including one where you resemble your mixed breed puppy, left in the care of family members back home.

10. If you end up at a nightclub (purpose: listen to the DJ for a forthcoming hotel event) with some of your friends, be prepared to feel completely out of place. Upon entering the place clad in mostly black and very dirty Converse sneakers, you may find yourself surrounded by extremely tall blond women who seem to be missing crucial articles of clothing, wearing dangerously high shoes; and clean cut, polo-clad, lurking-by-the-bar sorts of men. It's ok, though. You and your friends manage to have a fabulous time, and be home by a very decent hour.

11. Enjoy the feeling of removing the cream-colored unitard and matching swimcap you wear for En Skærsommernatsdrøm for the 17th (and last) time. That feeling is freedom. Until you don a nude leotard next month for The Cage.

12. After the premiere of Othello, it is totally okay to eat three pieces of drømmekage. Look, it translates to dream cake, there's nothing not to love about it, and you just busted your butt imitating war, post-war party, and war funeral activities. So go nuts.

13. At a group birthday party, if the music is good and you feel sassy in your spring-inspired outfit and you want to be a complete goofball in terms of the off-duty dance moves you produce? Go right ahead. Because you will end up having a fantastic, funny, foolishly energetic evening. (And yes, if you do it right, the MC Hammer and the tango will be included in said dance moves.)

14. You don't advocate divorce, but your neighbors could use some counseling. Their incredibly drunk fights (all in bellowing, nasal Danish) sound as though they are happening in your little apartment. Their bear/dog is no better; the worst is that said fights end only when the aforementioned beast begins howling...and its classy owners join in. If this finally becomes too much for you, it's perfectly okay to have your father internationally prank call your neighbors. Because this quiets them down, which makes you happy, and it is, in fact, all about you.

15. If your good friend knits you a purple legwarmer with the word "SLUT" running down the leg in bright red lettering, don't be offended. This means "Finished" or "Done" in Danish. You're not easy, you're cultural.

16. Finally, just a friendly reminder to keep going to the sauna. It does wonders for your mood. And the skin on your face. Also--when you catch an attractive phlegmy cold thanks to Copenhagen's schizophrenic spring weather--your lungs and nasal passages. I know, that's gross, but so is the black lung, and which would you rather have?

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