Copenhagen: Yet Another Great City To Be Depressed In
In the spring of 2015, my university housemates Finn and Reuben decided to go to Copenhagen, and me, feeling that I should at least try to be a little bit perceptible to the concept of “fun”, being dragged along. We called it a “flat trip,” flat not only describing the shape of something but also being the British word for apartment. My dad, not knowing that flat meant apartment, thought it was hilarious were going on a flat trip. I explained what it meant, he still thought it was hilarious and I of course had to stifle a rage fit caused by so many people’s disdain for learning new things. He loved learning new things, but him still thinking something was funny even after I had explained why it wasn’t, was of course enraging, mostly because I’m a dick, but there you are.
We flew from Luton Airport, which is basically what Heathrow would look like after the apocalypse. We got some food, Finn and Reuben got a pint while I was ordering a Whopper from the most suicidal Burger King employee I’ve ever seen. I completely get it, I wouldn’t be able to do that job. I’d rather dig graves. At least one for myself. The alcohol made my friends all deep and philosophical, something that never ends well for me since they always try to unravel the empty emotional wasteland that is I.
Finn started the endeavor by asking “What makes you tick?” A great question. Sorry, did I say great? I meant to say it was a fucking shit question.
“I don’t know,” I said.
“There has to be something,” said Reuben. Why has there always got to be something? This consensus on how to feel about things is driving me insane. If you haven’t had sex by the third date, you might as well tell her to go fuck herself. You have to be super excited, happy, and wanting to go out and get drunk after having finished an exam. You have to like someone because everybody else likes someone. I tried to explain to Reuben that he can’t say everybody does this or everybody does that about anything anymore, because I am part of his everybody now, which means he can’t say that everybody he knows feels a certain way about something, because now I am someone he knows and I most certainly doesn’t feel the way he feels about most things.
It’s a derelict argument to say that “everybody” thinks or feels something. It’s Trumpian. That may have worked in Nazi Germany, but we have free thought now. With all this proposed social consensus creating peer pressure to make people think a certain way, a lot of people aren’t using their right to free thought, and isn’t that a 21st-century disaster? Back at the shitty airport in Luton, I was trying to explain that the prospect of hosting The Daily Show made me excited. “That doesn’t count, that’s work,” said Reuben. Why work doesn’t count I don’t know, but apparently, it doesn’t.
Finn tried to develop the case by saying that he loves his dog that he has at home, and if anyone hurts that dog, he would kill them. If people could stop saying that they would kill people when it’s incredibly obvious that they would never be able to ever kill anyone, that would be great. But no, I don’t feel like that about anything. Although I don’t know that. There might be things I feel strongly about but someone has to ruin them for me first before I can realize that I want to kill them for ruining it. When I didn’t come up with an answer Reuben said “So what else do you want to do?”
“I told you, I want to host The Daily Show.”
“But what if they don’t want you, what if they won’t have you?” Reuben wasn’t one for big dreams.
“I dunno, I guess I’d go to Argentina and write stories.” Finn laughed, as he often did when he heard anything even slightly out of the ordinary.
“What kind of stories?” Finn asked.
“I don’t know, I’m not there yet.”
I did know because Argentina would be a great place to finish off this story, but I couldn’t tell him that. I never tell anyone about this story I’m writing, only girls I go on dates with because I always know I’ll never see them again so it doesn’t matter. Then we almost missed our flight and had to run and because Finn hadn’t brought any toiletries and thought the overpriced airport would be the best place to get some. Reuben had to go to the bathroom because he likes being late to things and being around people who are stressed. Also, he wouldn’t run, probably because he hasn’t done it since about 2007.
Flying Ryanair meant that people who are a little bit over average height would be in less pain if they cut their legs off rather than just sit down. I started reading, Reuben took a picture of him and Finn doing thumbs with me reading in the background, unaware and looking bored. It gave people something to laugh about, as it was so characteristic of me to face something as exciting as a trip to Copenhagen with stone-cold emotionlessness. Hilarious! Luckily, after takeoff, I walked up the aisle to the emergency exit row, and as I had expected, it was empty except for this pretty girl sitting by the window.
I said, “Excuse me, is anyone sitting here?” She said there wasn’t and I sat down and began once again to read Paper Towns by John Green. My official reason for this being that Cara Delevingne was playing Margo in the film due out that summer, and you know, she’s so hot. My real reason was that I just wanted to read the book, but you can’t say that, since it doesn’t satisfy the mind of the ordinary human male. You have to want to fuck someone in order for it to be okay that you’re reading voluntarily.
We arrived, bought the wrong tickets for the subway which meant we paid about two and a half times more than we should have because “Farum” and “Forum” should be the same place but they’re not. There was an election campaign happening in Denmark and Reuben and Finn decided that the Danes were simply far too good-looking to bother themselves with politics, as when you are attractive, if you don’t use that as an excuse to be shallow and not care about anything, you’re an idiot.
They also laughed hysterically when they realized that you got some money back when you recycled a plastic bottle, calling the shopkeepers dumb for being so environmentally conscious, while not factoring in that they added the amount of cash you’d get back on top of the price of a bottle of water, making it so if you didn’t recycle the bottle, you effectively lost money. But this was no time for common sense and reason. There never was. We got to the hostel just in time to get slightly intoxicated. We met three Australian girls, two of which were hot. As per usual, I introduced myself as if I was a jovial guy, then just sat there in silence. I walked in to get another drink, then came back out. As the girls left a bit later, Finn said “She was totally checking me out,” about one of the girls.
Objectively, she was the best looking one, but she was stereotypically good-looking, she had blonde hair, a bit too much make-up, a white t-shirt, and a black leather jacket, you know the type, badass-real-life-barbie. There was this other girl in a sweatshirt that I liked better for some reason. Maybe it was the sweatshirt. Maybe it was her nose. What do I know? They had come to Denmark to babysit Danish kids, which disappointed me a bit since going halfway around the world to babysit really is taking intellectualism and shoving it up your ass. I wanted to shove a thing or two up their asses if you know what I mean (insert misogynistic joke here). It also disappointed me since every time I’ve gone to the Swedish church in London to meet other non-religious Swedes (ironic, I know), almost all the people you meet are good-looking girls who’ve come as au pairs, that is to take care of kids and get very, very drunk. Preferably not at the same time.
This means they have rejected any kind of academia, which bothers me since I am the kind of guy who uses the word “academia.” They’re avoiding their responsibility to study on in Sweden to take care of kids they hate in London. Avoiding something you don’t want to do by doing something you also don’t want to do simply because it happens to take you to a rather nice city is never a good idea. That’s like avoiding being a lawyer in Oklahoma to become a stripper in New York. Although, that might actually be preferable. Reuben interrupted Finn talking about how the girls were already wet for him by saying that they were attracted to me, not him. “They were saying ‘he’s so hot’ and ‘he’s so tall’ about Oscar, not you,” he said, Finn looking disappointed since you can’t argue with a gay man over what goes on in the minds of straight girls.
Since I wasn’t there during the alleged event, but inside getting more sanity juice (alcohol), I said nothing. As Reuben puts it “Girls love talking to gay guys because we’re not a threat, I can talk to anyone just because I’m gay.” I chose to ignore Reuben’s comments about me being the hot one in the eyes of the members of the opposite sex, as I can’t trust anyone to say something nice about me ever, always assuming they are being sarcastic and mocking. I doubt that last wall of psychological defense from childhood will ever fall. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but yes, I was very high-strung and tense and wouldn’t have been able to relax even if I was shot with a horse tranquilizer.
Our room was already occupied by some Asian Americans from Seattle who were leaving at three in the morning, however, I would get back so late that I would see them leave as I approached the hostel that night. There was also a guy who didn’t talk and spent all his time in bed. On our way out that night, we asked the people standing outside smoking for nice pubs in the area. The fact that they were smoking was an omen of what we would experience for the next couple of hours as we entered Trabi bar, pronounced as if you were chewing on a pinecone, that’s Danish for ya.
As it so happens, it’s legal to smoke in bars in Denmark, at least in some bars, and this one was one of them and it seems the result of this was that this bar had attracted every chain-smoker south of the mansion of Santa Claus. Had they had any fire alarms in there, they would have broken after about four seconds and firemen all the way from Australia would have been called in to deal with this gas chamber atrocity. It made your eyes water and sting, but through all of this, my flatmates could still see that I wasn’t exactly enjoying myself. You see, I still can’t act as if I’m having a good time. I just can’t. And people notice, which is not good. I don’t even know what we talked about. Reuben said I make people laugh. It didn’t make me feel any better.
We stayed there till about two-thirty in the morning, at which point our lungs had turned the same color as Marilyn Manson’s hair. I said I was gonna go for a walk, something which my flatmates couldn’t understand since it was such a foreign concept. I just wanted to be alone for a little while. I longed for it. My brain is a bitch that way. When you’re alone, you want to be around people, and when you’re around people you realize that being around people sucks and it makes you want to be alone. I put my headphones in and once my friends were out of sight I started running. I was fucking electric. I really did feel as if I was free at last. There was no end to it. I ran into a courtyard, laid down in a hammock, and looked up at the sky. It was the best moment of the entire night.
I walked into a few bars in the hope of spending the night somewhere other than the hostel, preferably in some woman’s pants, but then I realized that humans are humans and walked out again. On my way back, I found an opened but completely full bottle of beer, I picked it up, sat down outside a church, leaned against the huge doors, and had a sip. If it was spiked with Rohypnol and/or piss, I couldn’t taste or feel it. I got back to the hostel, had a shower, brushed my teeth, and got to bed at about five am. It’s rare that the last two hours are the best part of a night, but this time it was certainly true. Finn snored so loudly I’m surprised he didn’t wake himself up, and the silent guy on the bottom bunk with his blindfold looked like he wished he had brought earplugs as well.
The next day we went to the castle and petted some horses, we went up a tower (for free which is rare), I thought about jumping, I took some couply pictures of Reuben and Finn as they were playing a trip-long game of gay chicken and calling each other “Babycakes.” I enjoyed that part, at least. We went for a boat ride where the guide told us not to go to Christiania alone because “you might meet some weird people there” but that we should definitely go nevertheless. We saw a man bungee jump from a crane, egged on by some of the drunker passengers on our boat telling him to “Jump already, you wuzz!!!!” They were part of a hen party, one of them stealing all the attention from the bride to be, I assume she’s gonna wear white to the wedding as well… bitch. You know, typical touristy stuff.
That night Finn wanted to play pool at the hostel, I suck at pool because the only places you play pool are places you go only if you have friends. Finn wanted to play with me, I assume to have something to laugh at. I played a few games over the course of the trip, the lasting impression of which was that pool is a game for the masses, i.e. not me. There were some other people hanging around the pool table, and since Finn and Reuben thought it would be a great idea to create a “going out gang,” consisting of two Germans, one of which was wearing tube socks with flip flops, a Carlsberg hoodie, constantly chanting “MAN U, MAN U!!!” (MAN U = Manchester United, a weird attempt at befriending Finn I assume) and clapping his hands. Add to this the cap he was wearing as his head was devoid of any hair whatsoever and some corduroy pants with giant pockets around the knees and he had the appearance of a struggling individual.
The other German thought it would be a great idea to start discussing the Islamic State and capitalism with some Americans when it was obvious to me that his qualities lay outside of his brain, and more in his biceps, pecs, and innocent, boy-next-door-looking face. When we got home from Copenhagen and Finn chose to both have a birthday dinner and a BBQ, it was revealed that he had once had sex in front of sixteen other people and later when Reuben finally got home after having had a new toenail put on in Manchester, it came to our attention that he had had sex in front of three other people in a hostel in Rome or some other place where you have sex in front of people. I was not jealous. I had been exchanging looks with yet another Asian American during the night, which was pointless since my dangle gets nervous even when there’s only one other person in the room, that being the person I’m supposed to be penetrating. Despite having ogled this girl for a while, it didn’t make me want to have sex with her on the pool table while a mentally challenged German shouted “MAN U! MAN U! MAN U!!!”
The other American was Indian (Indian as in curry, not native. And yes, that was racist.) who couldn’t see the point of having any other system than staunch, poor-people-pummeling capitalism, and guilt-tripped me into giving her my jacket once we got outside because she hadn’t experienced anything below 15 degrees Celsius before, since she had never ever left California. Who the hell decides that their first trip outside California is to Copen-fucking-hagen?? I hesitated but then I gave the jacket to her, as I thought I should at least attempt to seem like a compassionate, ordinary human being, and give her a taste of socialism where we share the wealth, and sometimes maybe even a goddamn jean jacket.
Before we went out though, I just couldn’t stand being expected to socialize with people I desperately didn’t want to socialize with, so I went out to “get some air.” Or at least that’s what I said since you are expected to tell people that you are leaving the building because, for some reason, they might give a shit. Anything else is called a French exit by the Brits, a sortie Anglaise by the French, and an Irish exit by the yanks. In order to seem like an ordinary human being, I said that I was going to “get some air,” when I was really escaping. Finn knew this, but he didn’t say anything, which was gracious of him. He just said “Alright, mate” and winked. I left the hostel and walked towards the water, but I realized quite quickly that this wasn’t one of those walks where the darkness, the loneliness, and the music made me feel better, it only made me feel worse, and I was going down fast, despair eating me from the inside.
Nevertheless, I strode on, wanting to see the pools of water in the middle of Copenhagen reflecting the light from the full moon in a corner of the sky. I got down to the lakes and started walking along the water in the steady breeze, making me shiver. I avoided a bird with a long beak and legs, so skinny a child could snap them both in half without much effort. This turned out to be one of those times where I tried to have emotions but couldn’t. The anxiety alien inside of me was gesticulating madly, like Hitler talking at a rally with 500 000 Nazis in attendance.
I slid down against a wall by the water, put my hands to my head, trying to have a feelings orgasm, where a physical display of emotions, this time that would be some fucking tears, would relieve some of the ever-increasing anxiety. But as always, no tears came. The next time I’ll cry will probably be because a bug flew in my eye while biking. That happens more than you think. Sitting down also directly stopped my legs from carrying me to a place from where there was no way back. I felt that had I carried on, they might have walked me to a bridge or some train tracks. Sitting down stopped them from doing that, which was convenient for my immediate survival.
The Copenhagen subway was basically suicide-proof anyway. They had sealed off every single subway station with glass walls so you couldn’t jump in front of the train even if you wanted to. You literally can’t kill yourself in the Copenhagen underground, which is just a socialist design fault. In proper capitalist economies, you can at least throw yourself in front of a train and make a lot of people late for work. I noticed some people walking towards me, and quickly stood up. They seemed happy. Fuckwits. I walked for a bit more but soon turned around. For the first time in my life, I ended one of my countless solitary walks in the middle of the night early, for the fear that I might actually do something about my emotional state this time.
I was walking fast back to the hostel, almost running, to get away from my own thoughts, which is difficult since when you walk, you sort of carry your mind with you. I wish you could just leave it behind sometimes. When I got back, the going-out gang had stopped playing pool and were simply sitting around a table. There was no room for me to sit, so I sat on the edge of the pool table. I don’t wish I was more like them, but I really should. While they seemed to really enjoy life, talking to other humans over some beers, I was on the outskirts of the group trying to get my brain to stop telling me that I should kill myself. I feel their way of doing things is slightly more preferable. I caught the eye of the stereotypically hot Australian girl a few times before they left to go to some club where stereotypically hot people meet, and every time I did, my insides boiled over. Not because I liked her or anything, but because wanting to have sex with someone, even someone stereotypically hot, should obviously make you feel like crap.
We, or rather the heads of the going out gang (not including the hot Australians), decided to once again go to Trabi Bar, accompanied by this German girl who liked empty glass bottles, traveled alone, had black hair, a nose piercing like a bull, and a camouflage shirt buttoned all the way up. I can’t tell you what we talked about since my mind was very far away from that smoky little bar. The whole ordeal made me feel like I was about to give birth to something extra-terrestrial.
The next day I woke up early to go get some cream to smear on my face to make it stop popping out in a spree of acne elation. When I turned my head, I realized there was a man sleeping on the floor. We had got some new roommates during the night. I pushed his leg out of the way to open my locker. He didn’t notice. Drunk fuck. Before I could leave, I bumped into the German girl with the nose-ring. We talked for about thirty seconds, then I failed to say “It was nice to meet you” like I meant it. I always fail to say it like I mean it.
When I walked down the stairs to the BBQ Finn was organizing back home in London a few days later, I discovered four beautiful girls sitting on the couch. I said hello to them in the exact same way I would’ve said hello to them if they were all dead as if they were four corpses on a couch. I was unable to just act like a normal person, no matter how hard I tried. It was exhausting. It’s like I’m autistic but totally aware of what I’m doing wrong, but not being able to do anything about it.
Back in Copenhagen we rented bikes and went basically everywhere – Christiania, where they smoked blunts the size of carrots and dogs ran free, the whole place basically looking like what the rest of Copenhagen would look like without a functioning welfare state, where people were smoking weed and spitting out the saliva they accumulated from smoking so much weed, strangling their dogs to discipline them and later probably also for food, and glancing sideways at non-white people. Then we went up another tower, not for free this time, a tower with stairs that took forever to climb and so steep that I almost broke my ankles and couldn’t fit standing upright. We got to the top, I thought about jumping again and I took some more pictures of Reuben and Finn being fake boyfriends.
We biked around the river to a bar on the other side. What had drawn us to it was the word “CAFÉ” painted in huge letters on the wall of an industrial building. Once we got there, we realized it was the kind of industrial area where young Danes go to raves and do ecstasy. The bar had these weird white pillows covered in leathery plastic and rainwater. The beers were expensive. Borrowing a soccer ball to play on the beach pitch was free. Biking back was a pain but worth it. It started raining. We bought some overpriced coffee and biked some more through floating, empty parking lots and around huge, empty opera houses from the roof of which you could dive into the wide stream below.
Before going back to the hostel, we had dinner at a dark restaurant way out of our price range, the waitress was very pretty but that was about the only good thing about the experience. The other guests seemed to be well-educated, creative individuals having fancy discussions about art and left-wing politics. I liked that. Two guys from the hostel came in and sat down. They were very muscly and objectively good-looking but they looked a bit out of place as they seemed incapable of having discussions of either art or left-wing politics and therefore were unable to get laid with any woman in the room, which I assume was their objective rather than finding some sustenance with 98 percent protein for their muscly muscles. I mostly sat in silence while Finn and Reuben talked about things I didn’t care about.
My head was giving me a stomach ache. I put an earphone in my left ear to try to counter the stomachache-inducing thoughts.
“You’re being very rude,” Reuben said as he saw me do it.
“Yeah, but it makes me less miserable.”
“What do you mean, you’re miserable!?” I immediately regretted ever mentioning it.
I didn’t understand how they hadn’t noticed anything yet. I didn’t know why I felt so bad, the guys I was there with were my friends and good ones at that. Some of the best ones I’ve ever had, although as you know, I haven’t had that many at all. Sure, they annoyed me with their many questions and complete inability to understand any other way of thinking than their own. But you can’t really blame someone for being interested in you. They were just doing what they had always done. Hanging out with other similarly aged humans. I was still somewhat alien to this, trying to figure out how to be comfortable around other people and in my own skin. I had a long-ass way to go. I’ve gotten a fair bit down the road. But I also enjoy being alone so much that I doubt I’ll ever be as good at socializing as these goddamn social chameleons I ended up spending a few years with in Islington and Hackney in north London in the years leading up to the British withdrawal from the European Union.
That night we had yet again some new roommates, this time some Irish girls who weren’t afraid to share that one of them was having a schism with another girl who apparently was trying to steal her boyfriend. They seemed to blame the girl, not the boyfriend, which didn’t make any sense to me. He’s the one in a relationship, not the girl they were planning revenge for. It was like they were just assuming that the guy couldn’t handle himself because he was “Just a bloke” and apparently, we are all animals with no free will once we see a pair of tits.
I said “Wow” as a reaction to the story, but once again I failed to fake interest so badly that one of them immediately said, “Wow, you really don’t give a fuck, do you?” Which was true, I didn’t. Then a large man with curly hair, mom jeans, and an old brown leather jacket walked into the room, took one glance at me, and said “You’re a big fucker, aren’t you?” in a thick Australian accent. He was obviously not used to not being the tallest man in the room. His name was Logan.
“Do you smoke?” He asked and I explained that I didn’t unless someone of course wanted me to smoke with them. He did want me to smoke with him, we went outside and he graciously offered me his pack.
He started the conversation as any other person would start a conversation.
“So, what do you do?”
“I’m a student,” I said.
“What do you study?”
“Journalism.” He gave me a quizzical, slightly hesitant look.
“What kind of journalism are you interested in?”
“Actually, I want to be a political satirist.” His expression changed for the better.
“Ah, that’s good, politicians and the media need to be made fun of.”
“Why do you feel like that?”
“I feel like the media is only publishing bad stories, there’s never anything positive in the news.” While there is a lot of scaremongering done by the media, I tried to explain that more often than not, something has to be negative to be newsworthy. A plane landing safely is not news, a plane crash is news. Or it can be extraordinary, which is why a dog biting a man is not news, but a man biting a dog is news.
The most typical good news story would be a cure for cancer, but since cures for cancer are generally quite rare, so are other good news stories. The vast majority of humanity not dying, continuing to love each other, and having ridonkulous coitus simply aren’t things you hear about on the news, because it isn’t news, it’s happening all the time, and we should be happy it is. Max Roser tweeted on the 16th of October 2017 that “Newspapers could have had the headline “Number of people in extreme poverty fell by 137,000 since yesterday” every day in the last 25 years.” This is of course fantastic, but something that happens every day for 25 years isn’t news.
Logan told me that he had just quit his job after working every day for six months, and now he was here for a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training camp. I can’t remember what we talked about next, as Finn and Reuben joined in the conversation, having escaped some incredibly boring people by the pool table. I didn’t miss out on anything by sitting in the corner scrolling Instagram, then. We went inside for another drink, at the bar I asked Logan what his job had been for the last six months.
“I was washing a man’s balls,” he said, straight-faced.
“Oh, ok,” I responded, assuming he was kidding. Logan then elaborated on his previous statement, explaining that he had been a live-in-caregiver for a man with severe MS, an integral part of which was indeed washing the man’s testicles. We went back outside with our beers and continued to smoke and talk. I felt comfortable around him, and I could be myself, that is to say, not hiding that everything wasn’t alright. We talked about politics, history, both of which I knew more about than he did, he told me about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and how he wanted to become a cage fighter. I was impressed that he still had that goal at 29 years old. He was going to a camp in Thailand in a few weeks’ time, where he was going to train with some of the best fighters in the world.
“It’s really not necessary for me to do that, they’re all a lot better than me, but I’m doing it for the experience, to run on the beach in the morning and get sweaty in a dojo.” I completely understood what he meant. I too like running on beaches when the sun rises and no one is around. You’ve got ample room to think and go nuts.
“I’m going to a training camp tomorrow, with this Danish Jiu-Jitsu guy who travels the world and teaches people BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu), the class is called badass spins, you can come along if you like.”
“Yeah, sure I’d love to.” I still had an anxiety-ridden affection for dilapidated sports halls full of dreams that would never see the light of day. It was a drunk invitation and a drunk promise, but it felt like something that could actually happen.
It was happy hour, so you got two beers for one. Logan bought me a few, I got him back, but despite the increasing percentage of alcohol in our bloodstreams, the decreasing temperature meant that it was too cold to stay outside. Reuben, Finn, and the Irish girls had sat down around a table, and after we had got ourselves another drink, I wanted to go outside into the cold again, but since Logan was apt at socializing like an ordinary human being, we sat down around the table. As I always do when there are more than two people in the room, I quickly fell silent. Logan noticed. I liked that. Soon enough Logan felt the need to smoke again, once again he offered me to smoke with him, and so I did. Finn and Reuben would laugh for weeks at how I said “Yeah, sure,” every time Logan offered me a smoke. I never understood why that was funny. Once we got outside Logan and I somehow got onto the subject of Putin, and why the hell that guy is in power.
“It’s because Boris Yeltsin needed someone equally corrupt and loyal so that the previous administration wouldn’t get screwed over by the new one for all the corrupt shit they did when the Soviet Union became Russia,” I said. “Yeltsin hadn’t exactly played fair with the power of the office, therefore once the administration thought it was time to leave, they needed someone who once they got to know what had been going on, wouldn’t be all surprised and aghast and throw them into a courtroom.” Logan seemed impressed at my knowledge about drunk Russian holders of power. “Finn studies international politics so he knows way more about this stuff than I do.”
“Really?” Logan seemed really surprised.
I guess Finn doesn’t come off as a guy who knows stuff, while I do for some reason. Maybe it’s because he gets overly excited when Irish girls talk about exerting revenge on their boyfriend-stealing enemies. I can’t exactly remember who out of the two of us started talking about the differences between the people in our little group and people in general, I think it was Logan, but I immediately jumped on the subject as I had so many excruciating thoughts and even more contemplations that I really needed to share with someone who might actually understand. I thought Logan might be one of those people.
During our hours just outside the hostel door, I was continually trying to decide whether or not I should tell him that I had just had sex for the first time only a few months earlier, as it might actually give some basic understanding of my social background of ostracism and insanity, because, as I have previously stated, I think that when people look at me and talk to me nowadays, they don’t see me for who I am. Since it’s okay to be weird and different when you enter your twenties (it doesn’t make it any more fun, it’s just as emotionally draining as always), they see someone who always has been appreciated for the weird fuck he is, despite the fact that the opposite is true. Like Finn assuming I’ve fucked loads of Swedish girls. Can’t he see that I’m the kind of person who didn’t get close to a girl during his teenage years? Do I dress too well? Do I not seem insane when I talk? Or is that a good thing now? Does he assume it’s always been a good thing?
I came to realize Logan was someone I could actually talk to, through the weirdest of stories.
“If you don’t mind, I would like to tell you a story. It’s a weird story, but if it’s okay with you, I would like you to hear it,” he said looking at me with a cigarette sticking out the corner of his mouth.
“I’d love to,” I said, this time with the sincerity I lacked when talking to the Irish girls.
“I used to be very religious, no sex before marriage, that kind of shit. I didn’t even masturbate. So, I had this girlfriend right, and we were making out on my couch, and I was getting very horny. Then she went home and I didn’t know how to release my sexual frustration, so I grabbed my ax, jumped in my car, and drove down to a lake. Down by the lake, there was a guy just standing there smoking and there I was, stepping out of a car with an ax. We looked at each other and he nodded and slowly walked away. Down by the lake, there was this grove of trees. To get rid of all the pent-up horniness, I decided to chop down a tree. I got tired pretty quickly, my arms were aching and I was sweating, but I wanted to finish what I had started, do you know what I mean?”
“I know exactly what you mean, I’ve thought of going into the woods and chopping down a tree so many times, not to release any sexual tension though, I’ve been an atheist since I understood the concept of God, so I’ve always been free to touch myself.” Logan laughed. “But I’ve always thought that chopping down a tree would be a great way of releasing anger. I’ve never done it, but I might do it now, just to honor your memory.” Logan smiled and continued his story.
“So, I was out there for hours in the middle of the night, chopping down this tree, and I finally managed to get it down. Then in our group in church where we were talking about abstinence and ways to not masturbate and other crazy shit, this new guy was there who was normal and not crazy, he had just come with his friend who was crazy like the rest of us. He looked like he thought What the hell am I doing here? But as I was telling this story, and I got to the part where I’m chopping down the tree down by the lake, he said ‘That was you?!’ Apparently, he worked for the council and they had to replace the tree. I’m sorry if that was a weird story.”
“No, that was absolutely fantastic,” I said, meaning every word of it.
“As a result of all this, I got married when I was 20 and that was also when I had sex for the first time. That marriage didn’t last very long. We were both too young and too religious.”
Before I could tell him that I was basically falling in love with him, we were back inside after being berated for being antisocial (just the way I like it), and I was once again sitting on the corner of the table, quiet like a mouse. Soon enough we were heading outside to be rambunctious on the town. The only problem with that was that the town was basically dead. It was hard to find any people, and when we did, they were Finnish. This fin and his Swedish friend directed us to a bar down the main road, which was only distinguishable as the main road because it was much broader than all the other roads.
When we got to the bar, the fin and his friend left us and I could see why. There was no sign to show that this was a bar, it was just a yellow house covered in graffiti. Walking in was a minor shock. The smell was a mixture of copious amounts of smoke and alcohol and the bodily reactions these create. It was a rough place. It was filled with ninety percent men, who seemed to like it that way while still being homophobic, and a few girls who must have been so incredibly bored that their last option, to come here, all of a sudden seemed like a good one. They were good-looking, but I couldn’t muster the courage to go talk to any of them. I was about to go talk to a girl way out of my league who I had been staring at for a while, it was almost creepy but I was basically a saint compared to the other Vikings in the room, but that’s when a guy with about 2 percent body fat sat down beside her. I later saw them making out in the street.
Out of all the shady characters in the room, one particularly stood out. His name was Peppe. He was about 6’4, his hair was long and fiery red, and his beard even more so. He looked like a Viking, acted like a Viking, and drank like a Viking. He was a tourist attraction in a place with no tourists, except for ourselves, although I didn’t really feel like one since I was so close to home. He wore a hoodie and a pair of sweatpants, the typical garments for going out on the town. He spoke in short sentences about things that were obvious to a three-year-old. He started talking to us and realized that the Swede in the group, me, was the tallest and the Irish, the girls, were the shortest. And thusly he proclaimed to the night sky as we were actively trying to lure in some lung cancer in the night air outside the bar: “THE SWEDISH ARE TALL, THE IRISH ARE SHORT, AND THE BRITISH ARE IN THE MIDDLE, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.”
The rest of us laughed along out of fear he’d kidnap our families. As we stepped back into the bar, Logan, despite having smoked an unknown number of packs already, stepped into the smoking box inside the bar, where those most intent on dying while coughing would congregate. I spent a substantial amount of the night in here simply because Logan kept putting cigarettes in my mouth. This smoking space was constantly occupied by a number of characters. One of them was a man from Senegal.
He was wearing a large, flat-brimmed cap, with a pair of huge headphones hanging around his neck, the rest of his clothing looked like they were about three sizes too large, including his shoes. He started talking to me once he realized I was Swedish, Sweden being his new home. He told me he was a DJ and that he was playing different clubs in Copenhagen. He told me he had his own club in Malmö. I said I would come by sometime, despite knowing that I never would. I hate clubs. They leave no space for conscious thought.
He told me he worked hard to provide for his son, who lived further north with his mother. They were no longer together. He told me he had a house in Senegal, which he would give to his son once he was older. “Everything I do is for my son,” he said. He told me his son played hockey, he mentioned the team, I recognized it and told him I used to play them as a kid. He broke into a smile. A young man with sideburns (Have you ever seen such a thing???) was shouting out the window, telling some people to go away. The men he was shouting at were black. The man with premature sideburns had no reason to shout at the men outside. The rise of anti-immigrant rhetoric in Europe had finally risen to a level directly in front of my eyes.
In Denmark it was bad. People were openly racist and seemed to think that was fine. The DJ from Malmö said he often worked in both Sweden and Denmark but he preferred Sweden because people were nice to him, less so in Denmark. He said so with pain in his eyes, looking over at Peppe who was being loud in a group of people. Apparently, they had had their disputes. I would see them hug later that night, but it was a hug that only happened because both of them wanted to avoid a fight.
“Sweden is my country,” he said, looking defiant. I smiled my widest smile and said “Yes, it is.”
“Sweden is my country,” he repeated.
“Yes, it is,” I said again with more force. In my mind I was thinking YES IT MOTHERFUCKING IS YOUR COUNTRY MY BLACK BROTHA FROM ANOTHA MOTHA, but I felt this might come off as slightly insane had I said it out loud. This was in May 2015, and a refugee crisis on Europe’s southern border was spurring on right-wing extremism and anti-immigrant parties even in Sweden, where the rise of the Sweden Democrats couldn’t be stopped regardless of how many racist things members of their party said and did. The Danish People’s Party, also consisting of a bunch of racist crazy people, was about to become the second-largest party in Denmark.
In this context, a man from Senegal saying that he felt at home in Sweden and that people were treating him nicely there made me happy in a way that nothing else could. He said, “Sweden is my country.” I’ve never even had to say that. I tried to reinforce that feeling of belonging in him as much as I could. Maybe I’m reading too much into the moment but I think I made that feeling in him even stronger. At least I hope I did.
I saw Logan standing by the bar, his brown leather jacket folded in his forearms. I walked up to him and stood beside him. Maybe I looked a bit downbeat, maybe I was lost in thought, but all of a sudden, he said: “I see greatness in you.” I couldn’t tell if he was being serious. “I’m being serious,” he said.
“Thank you.” This cheered me up but not in the way you might think.
“The way you talk, the things you have to say are very interesting, I think you are destined for great things.” It was like he was saying “The thoughts in your head that makes you sad – I love that shit.” It was something I really needed to hear.
“You’re very intelligent,” he said.
“Thank you, you’re brilliant as well,” I said. He laughed.
“I’m being serious,” I said. I really was.
The Irish girls came running up to us and said “Finn is gone!” I couldn’t understand why they cared so much, they had just met the guy. But we started looking for him, mostly because the girls went insane with worry for this man they barely knew. I knew he could handle himself, he was an adult, technically. A while later he came back, walking down the street as we were standing outside smoking in the cold rain once again. Finn had disappeared to buy some weed from some shady character down the street. One of the Irish girls punched him for leaving. Jesus fuck, what is this controlling behavior and how is it okay?
I frequently walk off without telling anyone and people don’t punch me for it, which is something I appreciate. We walked back into the pub and Peppe was walking around without his shirt on. Thankfully, he put it back on, but then he walked up to his rather sizable friend and pulled his shirt up, his friend responded in kind, and they started rubbing their bellies against each other. This was the so-called “Belly Competition.” A national Danish pastime and a great way to achieve body confidence for chubby people, since the one with the biggest belly was crowned the winner. Peppe was walking around with his shirt at his nipples, rubbing himself in a manner that could have been described as sensual had anyone but Peppe been doing it. But since it was Peppe, I would instead want to use the description: “Flagrant crime against humanity.”
Soon there was a circle of three in the belly competition, including one of the girls I had been ogling. Her belly wasn’t big enough to win. Of course, I turned around to see her pull up her shirt but the image of her rubbing bellies with two men who were out of her league in the sense that they weren’t even playing the same sport (she was hitting home runs and they were selling hot dogs in the parking lot), made me feel rather depressed for her sake, especially since Peppe’s sizable friend, bald and short with a ginger beard, started forcing himself on her once they were sitting down, and for some reason she accepted it. I gave up on having fun after that.
When the belly rubbing started, Finn exclaimed, “This is such a great night!” This drove me insane as I could not see what he was getting at, the shirtless, belly rubbing men making me utterly depressed rather than excited. I simply cannot enjoy anything. The absurdity of it all certainly made for a great story, but I will never be able to make it seem quirky and fun while being honest with myself. Logan asked me to take a picture of a drawing on the wall of a topless woman because he said that it looked like his ex-girlfriend.
I didn’t want to be a bore and leave before anyone else, but I desperately wanted to go back to the hostel. I can’t really understand how just sitting around can be so painful but I manage to make it so. The innards of my huge head always seem to manage to create this heavy ball in my stomach and it doesn’t go away until it’s quiet and I’m alone. Then it evaporates. We got back to the hostel and just before we all got into bed, Logan turned around to me and said: “You know, I’m going to this Brazilian Jiu Jutsu camp tomorrow, you can come along if you want.” I said I would. “This is not just some drunk promise, I actually mean it, you should come.” I said I would.
“Really?” He said. I said I really would.
I walked up to Logan the next morning and asked: “So when are we going?”
“Oh, you’re actually coming!? Sweet!” I told Finn and Reuben I would be spending the morning wrestling or something and Reuben said: “Yeah, but why would you want to?” I think the last time Reuben tried something new was the first time he put a dick in his mouth. The place was a short bus ride away. We didn’t quite know the name of the place but we figured we’d just walk to the bus stop and take it from there. But before that, Logan needed breakfast which ended up being a massive kebab. Stepping onto the first bus and talking to the driver, we still couldn’t figure out if we were on the right track, especially looking at the driver’s confused look. We decided to walk back to the hostel where there was Wi-Fi and we could figure it out. Logan’s lack of preparation and organization made me less in love with him, but I was still pretty infatuated.
It was probably because I was in quite a vulnerable state considering that only 36 hours earlier, I had seriously considered drowning myself in a knee-deep lake with some swans not owned by Queen Elizabeth II. I was like a tall girl fawning myself over a guy simply because he was taller than me and I’d never had to stand on my tippy toes to kiss anyone before. Logan was shorter than me and I didn’t want to kiss him, but you get the concept. I had finally found someone who didn’t seem to judge me for feeling the way I did about things. It turned out we had not even got the right name for the station where we were supposed to get off. When we finally found the right bus and got off at the right stop, we realized that we had no idea how to get to the sports complex from the bus stop.
I had never been so disorganized in my life. Operating solely on gut feeling, we managed to find the place and sat down to watch the first practice as Logan couldn’t take part as he was struck by an illness that didn’t prevent him from smoking and drinking but did prevent him from strangling people on a matt. The first hour was entitled “badass spins” and consisted of a Danish man with long blonde locks teaching a group of people how to spin your opponent around on the floor while looking like a badass. Participants were changing in the room, there were women in thongs and men thankfully not in thongs but consistently shirtless. Logan described his infatuation with the sport to me and its historical background. Apparently, the beauty of it was that you didn’t have to be big and strong to be good at it. It did seem to help though.
“Do you wanna try it?” Logan asked me towards the end of the hour, looking expectantly at me.
“Sure,” I said, not really considering the fact that the next class was for black belts only. Logan asked the new instructor, a clean-cut blonde from Oregon with Rick Perry’s smart guy glasses, if I could try it out. The guy with Rick Perry’s smart guy glasses said yes and looked at me and said “Don’t worry, I know it says black belt, but these moves can be done by anyone.” I was worried. Logan needed to buy a new Jiu-Jitsu suit anyway, and since we were roughly the same size, I was the one who got to use it during its inaugural session. I was given an orange belt, which usually means that you’re under sixteen, but in this case, it just meant that I had no idea what I was doing. I was paired with a hairy Irish man of similar age and we went at it. I got strangled, I strangled, I smelled some musky chest hair and made the Irish dude smell my non-hairy chest. It was actually not so bad having your air supply completely shut off by a small, hairy Irish man closely resembling a leprechaun. Not too shabby.
We rolled around on the floor, he very expertly, me like a huge baby who hadn’t learned how to walk yet. When the hour was up, I was drenched in sweat, but I was happy I did it, mostly because of the very podcastable story. “I went to Copenhagen, met an Australian guy, and did some Brazilian Jiu Jutsu, what the fuck did you do this weekend?” It sounds a lot better than “We went to the Lego store because Finn is a child.” That’s what they actually did while I was strangling a tiny Irishman.
“How did I do?” I asked Logan when the hour was up.
“Alright for the first time.”
So, I looked like garbage, I thought to myself.
“It’s super cool that you came along and did this.”
“Yeah sure, why wouldn’t I? How often do you get the chance to roll around on the floor with a group of older gentlemen?” Logan chuckled in response.
That night, we went to get some pizza from some guys who didn’t speak English so I spoke Swedish at them, and after a while, that did the job. Finn and Reuben were very impressed. Later that night, they were hanging out with some Americans playing pool while I was being anti-social by hanging out with Logan outside, smoking, and drinking. After about an hour Finn and Reuben came out to join us.
“They were so boring,” Finn immediately said after coming outside.
“Who, the Americans?” asked Logan.
“Yeah, I don’t think I’ve met a duller group of people in my life.”
“I said I needed to go smoke to get out of there and one of them asked me if I needed a pair of sticks, you know to make a fire,” Reuben filled in.
“Was that supposed to be a joke?” Logan asked.
“I think so, if not, they obviously aren’t aware of the existence of lighters,” Finn said while lighting another cigarette.
“Why would you even want to go there?” Reuben asked, looking at me. Since it became clear that I would spend the next year at the University of Virginia, he had been asking me this question over and over again since he believed all Americans were boring, fat, stupid, idiots.
While trying to argue that there are 330 million Americans and not all of them fit that description, his amazing potential to be a narrow-minded asshole usually won over all levels of logic and common sense. Logan and I had as per usual been having a very deep conversation about what it means to be human, and as per usual, through this discussion I had come to appreciate this man to such an extent that had not Finn and Reuben come and interrupted us, I would most surely have blown him or said something along the lines of “Hey man, I appreciate your existence.” One of the two. I don’t remember where the conversation went next but for some reason, it ended with me saying: “When you need to get rid of a dead baby all you need to do is to put it in the trash and then it’ll be squished in the garbage truck and then it’ll just look like chicken. Problem solved.”
“So dark, so quickly,” Logan said while laughing.
“I need the darkness to be funny,” I said, revealing an inch of my mental state to the world. I don’t think anybody noticed. Except maybe Logan. But that’s okay. It’s Logan.
We went inside to get another beer. It was happy hour, which meant that pre-drinking at the hostel actually became kind of affordable as you got two giant beers for the price of 35 Danish crowns, instead of just one. As Logan got his two glasses filled to the brim, he said “Just so you know I’m getting both of these for myself,” before he proceeded to give me one of them anyway. There were a group of American girls all bunched up around a table, all dressed in black, looking fantastic and scary, but sounding about as uninteresting as humanly possible. Finn and Reuben went downstairs to join the ever-growing group of yanks around the pool table, Logan and I staying upstairs. Despite the risk of being overheard (the reason I preferred being out in the cold), I decided to talk to Logan about the things I only felt I could talk about with this chain-smoking Australian aspiring cage fighter.
“You know, I really appreciate you telling me that story about your religious non-masturbatory days, it made me feel a bit less awful about the fact that I had sex for the first time in my life about six months ago. It’s something I don’t feel like I can talk about with anyone because people read so much into it that’s wildly inaccurate and ask so many stupid questions and I just don’t want to deal with that. But with you, it’s different.” Logan raised his eyebrows.
“Wow, I didn’t think that about you,” he said.
“Please don’t tell anyone.”
“Tell you what, I’ll trade you a secret. I’m not really injured, the reason I can’t take part in this BJJ camp is because I have ringworm.” He was quiet for a second. He started to take off one of his many wristbands.
“I want you to have this,” he gave it to me. It was black and with green text that said rollwiththepunches.net.
“That’s my blog,” he said. He had a few of them on his arm.
“I don’t give them out often, but I want you to have one.”
“Thanks, man,” I said with more emotion than one usually does when one utters the words “Thanks, man.” As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in a philosophy class in Virginia, writing this rather than paying attention to the class. On my arm, I still have the black wristband, the green letters have long since faded, and on my wrist, there’s a tan line from where it has blocked the sun for the last six months. I’ll wear it until it falls off. (It’s 2020 now, and the wristband just snapped. It lasted five years.) Which it probably never will since it’s made of rubber. (Ironic, much like the rest of 2020.) Back in Copenhagen, Finn and Reuben had gotten friendly with some new Americans that they were nice to, to their faces, but shit-talked as soon as they were out of earshot.
“One of them doesn’t even drink!” Reuben said as if he had never been so insulted in his life.
“He said he didn’t want to drink until he had had a beer with his dad. What kind of shit reason is that?! He’s 18!” I reminded Reuben that in America the drinking age was 21.
“Yeah, well we’re in Europe now, and in Europe, we drink at 18. He was a Christian too, one of those religious types.” This was the only criticism that seemed to resonate with Logan and me, with Logan because he actually tried the whole religion thing, and with me because I had been neck-deep in atheism since the age of 8.
“He’s here with his friend, and apparently their parents are here too, traveling around with them, just living at hotels in whatever city they’re in.”
“Okay, that’s just weird,” I agreed. Later in the night, this religious American blonde would turn in early, which made Reuben even angrier.
“You don’t leave your friend! You just don’t! He can fuck off!”
Ah yes, blame the guy who is uncomfortable with alcohol and a bit shy, tell him to fuck off that’s totally fair, I thought to myself as I was about to argue that it was unfair for his friend to force him into a situation he was obviously uncomfortable with, but I didn’t because being uncomfortable around people and loud music is about as understandable to Reuben as heterosexuality.
It’s so much easier to connect with someone once they tell you that they once drew a line on their arm, tracing their veins, putting the pen down and picking up a large knife and putting it to their wrist, getting ready to rip their arm open and allowing themselves to let go. Once someone has told you that, that’s when you can actually talk to them.
When the hostel bar started to get empty, we took our quite sizable crew and hit the dark, cold, empty streets of Copenhagen. At the first bar, everybody crowded around a large table, me and Logan picking one of our own, where we could continue our discussion about things that were difficult to put into words.
“There are so many things I want to say to you, but I’m afraid that my slurring words won’t do my thoughts justice. In this state, I’m not eloquent enough to express the things I want to say,” I rambled.
“I totally understand, I feel the same, but you’ve done great so far, you know how I said that I thought you were destined for greatness last night? I stand by that, every word of it,” Logan rambled.
“Thank you so much, you have no idea what that means,” I rambled, Logan drunkenly smiling back at me. Then, I just went for it.
“So when I was twelve years old, I walked up on the rooftop of my school and stepped onto the edge and stood there thinking about jumping. It was only a one-story school so had I jumped I would have barely broken an ankle and I dunno if this is something that I’ve created in my mind afterward but I think I thought to myself Well you could always dive headfirst and crack your skull open. Since then I’ve basically walked down to the lake where I live every night thinking about filling my pockets with rocks and drowning myself.”
Sharing this with someone without fear of what their reaction would be was like emptying a thousand pockets filled with a million little pebbles all at once. Logan didn’t look surprised or scared or anything. Just sympathetic. It was a good thing we grabbed our own table. We got a few jabs from the group for being anti-social assholes or whatever but it was definitely worth it.
“Not very long ago, I was sitting at home with my arm out like this,” he took off his leather jacket and put his underarm towards me on the table. “And I grabbed a pen and traced my vein with it,” he traced the vein along his arm with his finger. “Then I grabbed a large kitchen knife and put it to my wrist and prepared to rip my arm open and bleed to death. But I couldn’t do it.” I can’t remember what we said next but it was some of the most important drunk ramblings I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing and listening to in my life. We got pulled away by the rest of the group way too soon as the bar was closing. It was almost one in the morning.
Thankfully after that, we didn’t end up at Trabi bar this time but at another dark place. It was bigger with a large number of empty couches and you weren’t allowed to smoke inside, which meant my lungs were spared for the night. I sat in a corner getting steadily drunker, my memory of this night now becoming blurrier and blurrier. I took a huge number of selfies with Logan at the bar, in half of which Logan is pulling up his shirt, rubbing his nipples. In the other half, I’m basically asleep on his shoulder. The place was fairly empty but Logan remained optimistic for what the night could bring.
“We’re both tall, fairly good-looking, (speak for yourself Logan), young men. We should be able to seduce some Danish ladies.” I agreed, but that became difficult at about two in the morning when I started throwing up in the street.
“Some of us can’t hold our drink, eh Swedish?” said the good-looking Irish girl, coming out from the bar after me. I tried to look amused and said nothing. At the end of the night, we had ended up at Peppe’s. It wasn’t Peppe’s bar, just the bar where we met Peppe and therefore it would always be known to us as “Peppe’s.” Apparently, Finn and Reuben had carried on to another place, Logan, some other people, and I had walked home earlier. Logan gave this random guy on the street a hug, then the guy tried to steal his phone and wallet, but Logan had anticipated this and just became disappointed.
“Come on, man! I hugged you and then you just try to steal my phone, not cool man, not cool.” The bars and the streets were empty, there were barely any Danish ladies to seduce, and I was not in a state to seduce anyone. Both Logan and I realized this and we went back to the hostel before we crashed completely. We were supposed to fly back to London the next day. In the beginning, we had been struggling to get with the in-crowd at the hostel, but on the morning of our departure, things were different.
“We’re the cool kids now!” Finn said excitedly as we lay on the pillows in the common room, hungover, heads banging, and still kind of drunk. People were coming up to us to find us on Facebook and to say goodbye as we waited to go to the airport late enough so that we didn’t have enough time, just to make sure it all became a stressful experience. Because without stress, Reuben can’t breathe. Soon enough, it was time to go say goodbye to our roommates.
Finn had obviously noticed that Logan and I had become quite close, because when we were about to leave, he said, “Oscar, you got Logan on Facebook?” I had made sure I did the night before. I hesitated as Finn and Reuben walked back in as they were still in bed. I didn’t want to ruin anything by saying something stupid and I was also questioning whether they wanted to say goodbye to us, why I doubted that I have no idea, I assume I don’t want to bother people with my presence. But I realized I needed to see Logan once more before I left and went back into the small bedroom. I gave a quick, awkward hug to each of the Irish girls in the two bunks above Logan.
“Get in here buddy,” Logan said from the bottom bunk.
I nuzzled into his neck and stayed there for a good ten seconds. It felt fantastic to not only show appreciation through words for once. Then we were out of there, once again walking the streets in the hunt for coffee, Reuben taking pride in ordering in Danish.
As we were sipping our coffee and tea, and trying to make the headache go away after a night of heavy drinking for the fourth morning in a row, Reuben decided to speak despite me being happy with the rare moment of silence.
“Political incorrectness, always getting drunk, smoking indoors, I know which Scandinavian country I prefer,” he said looking at me gleefully, hoping I’d get agitated and retort. I didn’t. I was too tired, so I just nodded. You can’t argue with someone who looks at an objective fact and sees a potato covered in baby teeth. I’d take political correctness over political incorrectness any day of the week since political incorrectness is basically just racism. And after meeting the Malmö DJ and him literally telling me he is treated much better in Sweden, you can throw any argument at me, but you won’t convince that Denmark is the better country when the biggest party in the nation puts up billboards saying “Danish jobs for Danish workers” to win votes by capitalizing on racism. I’ll take my multiculturalism and go home to Sweden, thank you very much.
The train ride to the airport was smooth and Finn was still excited by the giant window at the end of the last cart, which allowed you to look out over the track. Once we walked onto the runway to board the plane, Reuben stopped right behind me for some reason, but I just kept walking. There were several planes on the runway and not a clear line of people to any of them and no one around to ask. I just walked to the closest one. Once I got on, I couldn’t see Finn or Reuben, which made me think I had walked onto the wrong plane and was now heading to Bangladesh or something. Which would be nice, but not now, maybe later when my headache had subsided. I walked up to one of the bored-looking flight attendants.
“I’m sorry but I didn’t see my friends board the plane.”
“Right here mate,” said Finn who was sitting to my right, he and Reuben having entered through the front steps despite it being the equivalent of a loft ladder.
“Oh right,” I said, Finn bursting into laughter at my slightly confused look. I nearly knocked him out then and there. I’m so tired of being laughed at for things that aren’t funny unless you have the mind of a four-year-old. Whenever that happens, I’m seven years old again within the blink of an eye, being picked on by my classmates.
The other day I walked around the house with my plate of bacon and eggs for a bit because I couldn’t find a place to sit. That was apparently very funny. I tried to argue that it wasn’t. They didn’t agree with me. It was very funny. Through the years, there have been so many people who could bring me back there simply by looking at me. I know it’s not that bad, I know others have had it worse in school growing up, the only problem is that my mind seems to be the biggest bully of them all. Intellectually connecting with another person happens about as often as I spot unicorns. Logan was a big fucking unicorn. Back on the plane, having confirmed that I was indeed on the correct flight, I just walked back to the empty emergency exit row, picked up Paper Towns, and sat down.
Whenever I land at an airport outside of Scandinavia, the rush of feeling far away from home can be quite unsettling. Gone is the light interior, the wooden floors, the toilets with actual walls and doors instead of just stalls, back are the condom dispensers in airport bathrooms and bars because those are totally hygienic places to have sex. If you’re that desperate to have sex, just accept the fact that you’re going to get chlamydia and move on.
When we got back home Finn thought it a perfect time to watch a Facebook video of a screaming kid. It served as a nice metaphor for how I was feeling. How I had always felt. The kid was screaming “Get away from me, leave me alone!” Finn chuckled. It drove me insane for a second. I felt like the screaming kid. I may not be screaming right now, but I am the screaming kid. I have always been the screaming kid. I’m lucky mobile phones could still be used to physically kill someone back then, instead of mentally as it is now. They were bricks without video cameras. Lucky me. I probably wouldn’t have been able to take it, being publicly humiliated like that.
This trip was in the end the trigger for another dip in my mental health and I finally accepted that I might be suffering from something as depressing as depression. I thought I had gotten myself out of the hole of actually considering suicide several years ago. But I feel like I might be falling into it again. It scares me. Whenever I end up on a ledge, as you do, I will actually be considering jumping instead of just thinking about it as I usually do. Thinking about suicide is fine, normal even... I think. But considering it is different, and frustrating when you thought that part of your life was over. I only sort of admitted defeat yesterday as I was sitting in the park by our house listening to some old Woody Allen stand-up. Woody was talking about how he had been using oral contraception when he asked a woman to go to bed with him and she had said no. Wonderful topic for Woody to talk about, I know.
I just sat there on a bench watching people, young and old, play cricket, soccer, tennis, celebrate birthdays, and generally just enjoying themselves. Then I listened to some Bon Iver, which is the most stereotypical depression music, only beaten by Adele. It was like a scene from a film, person is sad, person watches people being happy, person becomes sadder. I googled “Can depression make you tired?” (Which was less like a scene from a film, a bit too on the nose I do think) on my phone, as the reason I had left the house was that I had felt so tired I was about to fall asleep in the middle of the day. I thought it was because I hadn’t been outside all day, but according to WebMD, I was just sad. Makes sense.
It said, “One of the symptoms of depression is wanting to sleep all the time.” That hit me right in the face since for a while I hadn’t been able to understand why I slept eight hours a night, but still felt so sleepy all the time. This had been going on for years. My dad wanted me to do a blood test to see if there was something wrong with me. Apparently, there was something wrong with me, it just wasn’t in my blood, it was in my head. I learned that depression is genetic too, as the makeup of the brain affects whether or not you’re susceptible to being very, very sad for a very, very long time. As it turns out, my grandma’s traits live on in me, quite literally. It also gives you a lower sex drive which made sense since I had been jerking off a lot less for a while, almost only doing it because I felt an obligation to do it. It felt as if it was weird if I didn’t. But then again, what the fuck does the internet know about anything?
Whenever Reuben said I acted “Swedish,” he most likely meant something that he thought was antisocial, cold, or emotionless. It bugged me so much because whatever I was doing can’t have been particularly “Swedish” at all since I left Sweden because I obviously wasn’t able to act “Swedish” enough for my classmates, teammates, or anyone else. I’m not Swedish, I’m not anything, because it seems I’m a weirdo everywhere.
Finn told me to play the “I’m tall and Swedish” card more to get some grabass. To basically go up to girls and say “Hi I’m Oscar, I’m tall and Swedish.” See, I’m not so comfortable doing that because I don’t like to impose unless I have to. The first time I was sure that a girl wanted me to shove my hand down her pants was when her hand was already in my pants. I’m pretty sure that means she wants you.
The problem with this is that it doesn’t happen very often, which is why I walk around constantly wondering how the living fuck to get some grabass. You can talk to people, but that usually doesn’t lead anywhere. I’ll never just chance it, it’s just not like me to just wade in there, tongue and all. People who do that are either brave heroes or creepy fuckers who should be in prison, usually depending on whether they’re good-looking or not. Since I’m somewhere in between, I don’t know what the fuck to do. I’ll be in the corner thank you, pretending to text but actually just writing something like this, lamenting how difficult it is to allow your animalistic tendencies to flourish because if you do that in the wrong way, you’re going to prison. Unless you’re in India, in which case just blame the girl and she’ll be killed for allowing herself to be raped instead. Jesus fuck that country needs some fucking feminism. It’s actually got great some great feminism. Ladies in pink with sticks. It just needs more of it. MORE PINK LADIES WITH STICKS GODDAMMIT!!