YLC’s sassy singleton Claire Duffy on diving out of windows, setting snacks on fire and what it takes to make a Stockholm stranger smile.
I spied quite a cute guy at one of my favourite writing haunts, a coffee shop near Nytorget. Determined to finally put my kick-ass Swedish woman training into action, I took a deep breath and smiled. Blatantly, clearly – not even pretending to coincidentally smile at the wall behind him, as I normally do. He smiled back. I ducked back behind my laptop, heart thudding. Now what?
Rather usefully, he was sitting at a table that was directly on my route to the counter, so I decided that a second cup of tea was in order. Maybe a kanelbulle too, just to be a devil. Of course I didn’t stop and talk to him on the way, what do you take me for? But I did smile again. Again, he smiled back. Gracious.
Four smiles in 15 minutes – by Swedish standards, we’re practically engaged.
As I waited in line for my tea and bulle, I became aware of someone else having joined the queue behind me. Him. Oh goodness. Feeling as though a fifth smile
would be pushing it, I took another deep breath, and said, “hi”.
“Hi,” he replied.
“You’re the girl who fell out the window.”
Pardon? Me, fall out a window? I’ve never done any such thing in my… oh wait.
A little while back, I was working at this self same coffee shop, beavering away at some work of literary genius or another, when my sandwich caught on fire. I should back up and explain that this particular coffee shop has very thick windowsill type things, and there are tables on them. I’m not very good at judging distance, so I’ll just say that they are a reasonable step up. A step up you couldn’t do in a pencil skirt. A step up that occasionally requires two tries. Nevertheless, I’m very fond of sitting at these tables to work, as there’s a nice airy view, and also, who wouldn’t sit on a table in a windowsill if they had the opportunity?
So there I was, happily ensconced on my windowsill, when my sandwich caught on fire. On some occasions when I’ve told this story, listeners have expressed surprise and wonder that
sandwiches can catch on fire from being too near tabletop candles; I was never one for science so cannot explain the phenomenon, I can say only that I saw it with my own two eyes.
Indeed, I saw it, panicked, yelped, dumped my cup of tea over the flaming sandwich, scraped my chair back in fright… and fell out the window.
A sofa below broke my fall. I somehow ended up facedown on the sofa in a sort of crouching position I’m almost positive I hadn’t been sitting in, so must have somehow assumed mid-flight. I cringed and prepared to turn around and face the derision of a of a coffee shop full of hipster freelancers. Aware that there was no choice but to brazen it out, I clambered off the sofa, whirled around and bowed with a flourish. I had forgotten, however, that this is Sweden.
Not one person appeared to have seen a thing. Not the sandwich going up in flames. Not my yelp of surprise. Not my flight through the air in an upsidedown crouching position. Not even my bow. They all just carried on typing hipster freelancer things into their laptops. I climbed back up onto the windowsill, beginning to wonder if I had momentarily become invisible.
And now, almost a year later, here I was, faced with someone who bore witness. If there is a way to flirt with someone who has seen you fly through the air in an upside-down crouching position and then stand up and bow, I have to confess I do not know it.
I hightailed it away, a little disappointed to learn that I was not invisible, I was just in Sweden.