Friday, October 06, 2006

Living in Sweden, pt. 2: White Man's Hell

It's midnight. Normally, I'd be home, comfortably sleepy -- or asleep -- with my wife. But instead of being groggy and close, alone with my sweet woman, I'm trapped at a 'party' with no end in sight. The few remaining revelers are gathered in the main room, some struggling through high-volume conversation while others stand round the piano performing -- at even higher volume -- classic radio mainstays from such whitebread pop stars as James Taylor, Simon & Garfunkel and John Denver. It's so loud and unbearable I can't even be in the same room, and it's only made worse by one man's choral improvisations (an occasional churchly 'aaaah-aaaah' to accompany the melody).
This is so like my nightmares it's shocking.
Even more shocking is that these people a) are not drunk and b) have (for the most part) never heard of, much less seen, 'The Big Chill.' But there they are.
This is kind of typical of my experience of the Swedish dinner party. Maybe it's just because I never knew people who had 'dinner parties' per se, or maybe it's a cultural thing, but I thought environments like this died off with men wearing hats all the time. But the few shindigs like this we've attended have ended in this or a similar way...though usually with more people drunk, and usually with at least one person I could talk to.
To be fair to our truly gracious, nice and incredibly decent Swedish hosts, I 've never been a fan of parties to begin with. They're too much like enforced fun for me to enjoy them much. And Swedish parties are even worse. These things have often had activities meant to reinforce the fun being had...which makes the experience that much more nightmarish to me. Our first one here was at the local castle (yeah, we have a local castle...jealous?). The food was okay, but the best thing going was that it was in the dungeon! I was caught almost unawares (everybody was supposed to bring something, so I knew something was up) when we spent easily an hour doing songs, having readings, and finally dancing around the room to Swedish nursery songs!
The above experience wasn't as bad as the castle party, but suffered from the common down side these things too often have: they don't know when to stop. The previously mentioned party could've been done around 10, and some were wise enough to cut out then. We, however, ended up in the dregs of the evening...and that's where you came in.
It was nearly two when we finally got home. I would've been relieved, if it weren't for the certainty another one would be coming soon enough.
Hallowe'en's just a few weeks away...