Feeling Groovy

In Sweden people always ask you how you are when they meet you, but they really don’t expect you to answer honestly. The standard answer is “fine”, “good” or, if you’re feeling especially frisky, “really, really good.”

However, I sometimes assume that perhaps people really want to know how I am, and I answer honestly. Like 2 years ago, after being dumped in a nasty way by Åse B, I took H to a kid’s party. Sitting down on the balcony with some other grown-ups, one of them asked me in a bored way, “So how are things with you then?”

I stared at him for a moment, and decided to go for it.

“Well, kind of crap really. I was dumped by somebody a few days ago, by e-mail, and I feel really quite bad.”

The parent in question developed a look of horror in his eyes, nodded ever so slightly, made a “aha” noise and did not talk to me for the remainder of the day. Even better, his teenaged daughter was sitting with him, and she looked as If I had just pulled out my penis and slipped it in my cake.

A proper reaction to my reply would have been to show some concern, ask how I was, offer a shoulder to cry on, or fetch the Jack Daniels from the secret cupboard in the kitchen.  And don’t get me wrong, Swedish people have been know to do this, just not so often. Over here, everybody must feel well and happy all the time or else they have some kind of problem, requiring that they are discreetly put somewhere large, industrial and white and given lots of pills so they can be “normal” again.

And since everybody over here is striving to be so damned “normal”, that leaves one interesting question—just where are all these normal people? Because I don’t see them on my street, or on the bus, or on the TV, or at my job, or anywhere else.

I guess they’re all at home, hiding under the bed.

/ paddy

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6 thoughts on “Feeling Groovy

  1. And worst, no one even commented on your heart felt angst, against Swedish society of course, not that particular Swede. From another Swede in Exile.

  2. Ah yes, you have to be very careful with those things..
    Basically the lowest you can go in stating your ‘mood’ is somewhere along the lines of jokingly not feeling too well. It can be acceptable to say “Sådär” (in a cheerful tone), in which case if they’re interested they CAN follow up.. But you shouldn’t let that catch you off guard and spill what’s really the matter.. If they do, you can say something along the lines of “Nej, du vet..” and then go off on something else, something cheerier. Later on in the conversation if you get back on topic you can then talk more about it.
    When I first moved here I was asked how I was doing, and it was on the birthday of a friend of mine that had recently died.. So I, told the girl asking me that and.. She stared at me and backed off. :)

    A point to take though is that talking about any form of feelings aside from you being happy and that all, needs to be kept as far away from a conversation as possible if you want swedes to “like” you.

    But what with the bizarre rules for conversations and just about how irritating a swede really is, i cannot see why you’d actually want them to.

    Regards,
    Daniel.

  3. Daniel – It explains who so many people I know here are on anti-depressives…that terible pressure to be “normal” and “happy” all the time. I see are familiar with the Swedish way – how many years have you done here, and what was your crime..?

  4. I was as a matter of fact born in this miserable country, and after seeking refuge in the United States for as long as I could I was forced to return some 8 years ago.

    Anti-depressant medication is very common in Sweden. Particularly among the youth. It’s a pretty ignored problem really, since it shows our society has more than a few minor problems.. I should likely be using them myself, but on the other hand taking drugs to try to kill the depression doesn’t solve the actual problem, which is more deep rooted than the individual. Probably over 50% of the people I know are on some form of mood shifting drugs to deal with depressions.

    It’s an interesting time to be alive.

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