Play Well

It was a Friday night and Dave was antsy. He wanted to go out. I just finished cleaning the upstairs bathroom and then making dinner and was in no mood to go anywhere. But then Dave started to say that he’ll just go by himself and he ran a few scenarios by me – how he’ll chat up the bartender at the local pub – and I figured it might be safer if I joined him.

The shopping center here at Sorgenfri neighborhood of Lyngby- about a 7 minute walk from our house – has pretty much everything I need most days. There are two supermarkets (one that’s open 24 hours), a bike shop, a pharmacy, a bookstore, a clothing store, a print/copy place, a post office, a fish shop, a vitamin shop, a bank, a bakery, an eyeglasses shop, two hair salons, a sandwich place and a little bar.

Dave’s been asking to check this bar out for a while now. But this isn’t downtown Copenhagen. It isn’t even downtown Lyngby. This is a neighborhood joint, where everyone knows each other. I get a little bit intimidated by locals… I mean, it’s almost like going to a party to which you weren’t invited and you don’t know anyone.

When we got to the bar, there was a large group of people sitting outside and another group huddled by the bar, inside. It most definitely looked like everyone knew everyone else, because when we walked in, people turned around, looking a little surprised to see us.

I chose a corner booth and waited for Dave to get me a drink, so I could have something other to do than check the weather on my phone.

But then I looked up, and there was Dave, chatting with a young Danish guy, who was urging us to come sit outside with him and his friends.

This guy – Frederik – was so nice and friendly! Danes have a reputation for being stand-offish and quiet, but that is definitely not the case after a few beers! The entire table (or a group of tables pushed together) consisted of four young guys (in their 20s), a guy who might have been in his 30s, and six or so other, older people who kept coming and going throughout the night. Everyone was friendly and curious as to why we would choose to move from the famous city of Seattle (music and the Seahawks!) to their little Sorgenfri. I guess not everyone here realizes that they’re living in one of the most beautiful and most civilized places on the planet.

We planned to stay for only one beer, but then decided to stay for two. We talked about everything – from Viking history to farming of swine meat – and I was amazed how intelligent these guys were! I don’t mean to imply that they didn’t look intelligent, but I tried – and failed – to imagine similar conversations in the United States. These 20-something cool dudes with long hair, who already probably consumed close to a case of beer each, were appalled at the historical inaccuracies of the show Vikings, explained the history of trade unions, wanted to talk about Denmark’s shameful deforestation in the past and current efforts of reforestation, and were excited about the first wolf cubs being born in Jutland in over 200 years. Do young men in America talk and care about these things?

In addition to some valuable history lessons, we learned some trivia as well. Apparently, Lego – the most famous of Danish exports – comes from a fusion of two Danish words: “leg” and “godt”. “Leg” means play. “Godt” means well (or good).

I was also amazed at how inclusive they were. Not only with us, because after all we may have been a novelty at a local bar on a Friday night. But also with some of the much older people at our table. I got an impression that everyone knew and liked each other, from the 60-somethings to the 20-somethings.

Also, what manners! When I spilled beer on myself, one of the guys jumped up and grabbed some napkins from the bar. When we commented on how cold this Danish summer is, another guy brought us blankets!

We had a very nice time. Would it be jumping to generalizations quickly, if I said that most people here are well educated, well informed and well brought up?

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