Friday, February 25, 2011

Bad Hat!

JoeUpdate: I should have payed a little closer attention to my Swedish. The word for hat is mössa, not mossa as I originally reported. Also, the correct translation would be closer to "Wrong hat!"—which is also pretty funny, actually.

JoeWe've been back from the States for six weeks now, and we're still having fun with all of the little treasures that we brought back with us—clothes we haven't worn in years that suddenly fit and/or seem stylish, trinkets we had been missing, gadgets we had forgotten we owned. We're still in the process of working all of our new/old stuff into our old/new life (March this year will be the month of hanging-things-on-the-walls).

One of my little treasures is my Norway flag hat, purchased out of desperation on a cold boat trip along the Norwegian coast in 2005. I didn't bring it to Sweden originally because, well, it's Norwegian, and at the time I thought it might be a little impolitic. Now that we're acclimated, though, it didn't seem like such a big deal, and I missed it. So this time I brought it along, and I'm glad I did—it actually does a better job covering my earlobes than any other hat I have here, not an insignificant factor when biking along at 20 degrees below freezing.

So, today the last of our Christmas bounty showed up, a package of stuff we'd ordered in Michigan that arrived after we returned, kindly forwarded by Jennifer's parents. More treasures! Instead of coming to our local gas station, though, the box stopped at Uppsala's single post office*, so this afternoon I took off work a little early to go and fetch it before the office closed for the weekend.

On the way out of the building, I passed my co-supervisor in the hall. He glanced at my head, then said, "For a moment I thought you were wearing a Norwegian flag on your hat."

When I avowed that I was, in point of fact, doing just that, he shook his head sadly, and said, "It's no wonder it took you so long to get your visa, then."

Now fast forward to my walk back to the bus stop from the post office. As I slowly made my way down a particularly icy sidewalk, a Swedish woman in her 60s, going the opposite direction, took the time to go a few steps out of her way so that she could shake a finger at me menacingly, and declare, "Fel mossa!"

Of course, last night Charlotte Kalla did suffer an ignominious defeat in the ski sprint in Oslo, the medal eventually going to Marit Bjørgen (a Norwegian), but clearly the blame for that lies with the French. No, I think it's more likely that the Swedish dislike of Norwegians runs deep enough to compel a complete stranger to speak to me on the street, for what must be the third time in three years.

Can you imagine what would happen if I ever mentioned the fact that I'm part Danish? I shudder to think.
*Why didn't it go to the usual place, you ask? Whim. For a postal service, Posten has always maintained an admirable sense of whimsy.

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