20 Apr 2024
Love Refugee: How to Handle Swedish Cowboys
Fiction Love Refugee

Love Refugee: How to Handle Swedish Cowboys

Love Refugee is YLC’s new fiction serial;  a romantic comedy about expat and confirmed singleton Ellie, determined to avoid commitment at any cost… who discovers that she has an inconvenient weakness for Swedish men (it’s not autobiographical at all… 😉 )!

It was the cowboy hat that caught my attention. It wasn’t even truly a cowboy hat, but halfway between a cowboy hat and the sort of hat that little old ladies wear to prune roses, and he was wearing it with such nonchalance that I honestly couldn’t tell whether he was an unabashed hipster or genuine dork. I was soon to learn that this is often a difficult call to make in Sweden, but this all happened on the plane on my way to Stockholm for the very first time, so I thought that Andreas was uniquely odd. Which of course made me fancy him.

Then there was the fact that he didn’t react at al when he opened the overhead locker and the contents of my handbag fell on his head. He didn’t shout, or laugh, or even make huffy noises under his breath; he just helped me pick up my diary and phone and tampons and sweeties for when my ears pop without a word, then sat back down in his seat across the aisle like nothing had happened.

In fact, he was so casual about it, that after a moment I began to wonder whether it really had happened at all, or if I had imagined the whole thing. And then I saw it.

My lipgloss. Sitting brazenly on the rim of his little old lady cowboy hat. Now I might have let it go, considered that it served me right for forgetting to zip my bag back up after getting my iPad out, but it was a fancy lipgloss. Expensive, presumably, though I’d got it in a goody bag at some PR event, so technically it was free. But it was still fancy, and it was the perfect colour and it lasted forever, and I wanted it back. I also slightly wanted to talk to him, but mostly I wanted my lipgloss back.

Now, if he had grumpily told me off for being so casual about stowing my hand luggage (indeed, flagrantly disobeying instruction to place it “carefully” in the overhead locker), I could have equally grumpily demanded my lipgloss back, possibly even insinuated that the whole thing was an elaborate plot to thieve said liploss and therefore entirely his fault.

Or, if we had had a good laugh about my stuff falling on his head, I could have casually asked for it back, maybe even suggested the elaborate plot theory, but jokingly, all “nice try matey, I might let you borrow it sometime if you ask nicely”.

But, with the entire event not having been acknowledged at all, I was left in a bit of a pickle.

What if I asked for the lipgloss back and he leaped in the air in shock and demanded, “What the hell is your lipgloss doing in my hat?”

And, because I tend to get a bit defensive when I’m being told off, I would have shot back, “Why are you wearing a little old lady’s gardening hat anyway?”

And he might have roared, “I AM A SWEDISH COWBOY! THIS IS WHAT WE WEAR!” Then things might have really gone downhill.

Just then, the captain came over the loudspeaker to do the whole, “descending into Arlanda, nice weather in Stockholm, have you on the ground in a jiffy” spiel, and I panicked. We’d be on the ground in a jiffy and my lovely lipgloss would be carried inexorably away on the brim of an intriguing hat.

We all know that decisions made in the throes of panic are almost never good ones, but I didn’t have time to remember that.

I reached out and grabbed wildly for my lipgloss. Forgetting, momentarily, in all the excitement, just how close to his head it was.

“Why did you punch me?” he asked.

I’m not great under pressure.

“I… didn’t,” I improvised.

“Yes you did,” he replied mildly, and, to be fair to him, the evidence for his case was fairly damning: his hat was all crooked and his left eye was watering a bit.

“Can I take you for a drink tonight?” I asked.

“Yes alright,” he replied.

The plane touched down. I had my lipgloss back, and a date. So far, my new life in Sweden is working out pretty well.


A new episode will post every Friday, please let us know what you think of Ellie’s adventures in the comments!

Featured Image: Xlibber/Flickr (file)


  • […] Check it out on Your Living City… […]

  • Nell 18 Apr 2014

    Ah so thats how you get a date Claire! I was going to say maybe you should remember to zip up your bag in future but then again maybe not as strange things happen?? Look forward to next weeks blog!

  • Marie Keates 20 Apr 2014

    great start. it actually sounds like the kind of thing that happens to me in real life 🙂

    • Claire 29 May 2014

      Thank you! I’m quite sure I’ve dropped stuff on strangers’ heads before, though it hasn’t yet got me a date in real life… never say never!

  • […] of my pondering time last week was spent writing and planning Love Refugee, my new fictional column for Your Living City, which launches this morning – whoop whoop! It’s the story of Ellie, a British ex pat […]

  • […] and turn my attention back to other projects. Such as Identity Part II, which is roaring along! And Love Refugee, which kicked off on Your Living City last week (please do head over there and let us know what […]

  • Lynne@curvyroads 7 May 2014

    I love the start, Claire! What a fun way to get a date…

    • Claire 29 May 2014

      Thank you! I must see if it works in real life… 😉

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