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…
Drinks turned into dinner turned into breakfast which was all nice and good, and Andreas turned out to be a genuine dork which was even better, but then, on the second day, things went a bit south.
He took me for a walk around area called Gamla Stan, which looks to me like something out of a fairy tale – but a proper, old school, dark fairy tale. I kept expecting witches to reach their knobbly hands out of narrow windows and snatch children from winding, cobblestoned alleyways.
It was entirely oldy-worldy and charming and sweet. Well, other than the porn.
On a fairly busy main street, in amongst all the touristy shops selling Viking knick knacks and, inexplicably, those little troll dolls that were a brief craze in the ‘90s, we wandered past a book shop that displayed, right there in the front window, books of a… grown up nature. I’m no prude by any stretch of the imagination (I’m not sure I’d asked Andreas what his surname was by that point) but I will admit to being startled by such… gynaecological images, in broad daylight.
I might also have frightened Andreas slightly by doing some sudden jumping jacks in front of the window when I spied a family with small children approaching.
At least, I assume he was frightened: I’m already learning that if you’ve ever wanted to experience what it feels like to be invisible, do something weird or embarrassing in front of a Swede. I can’t begin to tell you just how thrilling this prospect is to me.
Does this mean that when I return to a meeting after nipping to the ladies’, with my skirt tucked carefully into the back of my knickers, everyone will pretend it’s not happening? Or when I trip on my own feet and fall over in the street, then get a mental image of how it must have looked and lie in the pavement helpless with giggles, people will just walk on by? Or when I’m on a date and am so engrossed in the story I’m telling I forget where my mouth is and simply pour half a glass of red wine directly down my shirt, the guy will just smile and keep listening to the story?
This is brilliant.
I once fell off a bus in London while getting on it (don’t ask) and the whole bus (save for a few confused German tourists) stood up and cheered for me. I felt that the reaction deserved bow, which I unfortunately did just as the bus pulled out which made me headbutt the side of a seat, and I ended up in hospital with concussion.
This wouldn’t have happened in Sweden!
Anyway, back to it all going south. We were wandering around and discussing whether an ice cream in the sunshine was required, or if the fact that it was freezing cold negated the sunshine as far as ice cream requirements go, when he took my hand. I’m not a big hand holder. I mean, I’m standing right next to you, what do we gain by actually being attached? But, he was quite sweet and I was relaxed and mostly thinking about ice cream, so I went along with it.
And then he hit me with it.
“I think you’re really special Ellie,” he muttered, all shy and romantic.
My heart sank.
“I think this could really be something.”
“Yes, well, good stuff. Thank you very much. What about that ice cream?”
Because I’m that cool. “Good stuff.” I bet a psychologist could make something out of the fact that my vocabulary goes all 1960s boarding school when I’m uncomfortable. I was once fired and I replied, “lovely jubbly.”
Luckily he dropped the subject then, and we did indeed get our ice cream. We ate it outside a little café wrapped in blankets provided by the café (how brilliant is that?!) and as we sat there it snowed a little bit, and it was all lovely and ridiculously Swedish, but I couldn’t shake that little feeling of dread in my tummy.
Because now I had to tell him, and he would say he was okay with it but he wouldn’t be really, and soon I’d never hear from him again. Which was a shame because I was just starting to like him…
Missed episode one? Here’s where to find it!
Featured Image: Michael N Patterson/Flickr (file)