Do we always want what we can’t have? YLC’s own fabulous single girl Claire Duffy on Swedish love, the art of dating and on meeting the one that slips through one’s fingers.
I’ll never know what possessed me to spill my feelings that night. That’s a lie: it was the best part of a bottle of rosé. You might think that, at my great age and emotional experience, I’d know better than to make major life decisions or even sudden movements, come to that, under the influence of rosé. You would be wrong.
That riding-a-runaway-horse feeling of the first six months or so in a new country was just calming down for me when I ran into an actor I knew slightly at a rather glitzy film industry do. We had worked together some months previously, but other than being vaguely aware that I really enjoyed his company, I had been too caught up in trying not to fall off Sweden to pay him much attention. Indeed, a mutual friend had recently mentioned that he was a bit of a ladies’ man, and I had replied that I couldn’t really see it. Until that night.
We were dancing to Dancing Queen, and I was already a bit thrilled to be dancing with a gorgeous Swedish man, in Sweden, to ABBA for heaven’s sake, when he pulled me close to jokingly tango. I felt his stubble brush against my forehead (of course he’s deliciously tall, what do you take me for?).
Suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks – I was in very big trouble.
We closed the bar that night, chatting away about everything and nothing while the harsh overhead lights were switched on and grouchy barstaff pointedly swept the floor around us. He walked me outside, we stood around in the bitter January wind, I turned to him… and he said he’d see me soon and hugged me. As my taxi pulled away, I swallowed the sting of the abrupt goodnight, and looked forward to the next time we met, confident that would be the night…
And so it went, for the best part of six months: parties and drinks and fikas, chatting, giggling over ridiculous private jokes… then a chaste hug and me wondering what went wrong. Until the night with the particular amount of rosé. One of his friends had taken over the DJ booth and was playing, for reasons best known to himself, Euphoria by Loreen. The thought seized me that I couldn’t exist another moment without him knowing how I felt. I’d like to imagine that it was a bit like the climax of Mamoulian’s Queen Christina with Garbo rushing to John Gilbert to admit she loves him, except that in reality it was more me shoving my way through a throng of drunken, sweaty Swedes, being elbowed in the face and having at least one drink spilled down my back. Finally I reached him.
The fact that he was slumped in a corner alone, possibly singing along to Euphoria, should probably have been my first clue he wasn’t quite in a position to receive a declaration of love.
It was, sadly, entirely too late for any such rational thoughts, and almost before I knew what I was doing I had blurted out my feelings. He stared at me blankly. He might have blinked. He uttered surely the most brutal phrase of the English language:
I might have actually convulsed with horror. I am reasonably confident that at least one essential organ liquidized on the spot. I turned heel and ran, as fast as the throng of sweaty Swedes would allow me, all the way home. The most tragic of love affairs that never was both started and ended to a soundtrack of Swedish Eurovision winners.
We’ve probably all got a One That Got Away in some form or another; some things are just not meant to be and the only thing to do is grit your teeth and put it down to experience… but that’s it – I’m never voting for Sweden in Eurovision again.