The WHAM music video Last Christmas is a microcosm of 1980’s society. A group of attractive, gelled up twenty somethings spend Christmas in a cabin in the mountains. They occupy their time wearing tacky sweaters, drinking cocktails and light beer, and holding each other by the fire. Not once in the video did a child enter the picture. To 1980s individualists, kids were the last thing on their minds at Christmas…
My Christmas was spent in a terraced house in England with a group of moderately attractive twenty somethings. We occupied our time wearing tacky Santa hats, drinking cocktails and light beer, and eating roast beef. To a group of teachers who spend every waking hour working with children, kids were the last thing on our minds at Christmas. This country is turning me into WHAM; I need to get out. Thankfully I board a plane to Norway tomorrow…
I have memories of shopping for pants at Sears Bargain Centre with my mom as a child. I looked at the size 28 Nevada regular fit jeans and instantly knew that they would be perfect for my transition from sweat pants to jeans. I would no longer be the only one in my grade five class who wore Zubaz on a daily basis.
I went into the dingy fitting rooms and told the lady working at the counter that I had one item to try on. She handed me a plastic chip with the number one on it and I proceeded to the room. The lighting and mirrors in the fitting rooms at Sears Bargain Centre are hardly flattering, and even an unsure grade five can experience damaged self image just by walking through the doors. I tried with all my might to make the pants fit. Finally, after sucking in my gut, and undergoing a considerable amount of pain I managed to do up all but one of the buttons on the fly. I walked out of the change room as I knew that my mom would have to inspect the pants before she approved the purchase. My mom immediately began the inspection process by putting her fingers in between the top of the pants and my gut, causing considerable embarrassment for a grade five in denial of his stalwart figure.
“Maybe you should try Husky Fit,” she said as if it were not an issue. Husky Fit?!? Did she not know that husky was just another word for fat. I was determined. I convinced my mom that the size 28 regular fit Nevada jeans would do. One week later the red marks that my new pants caused had transformed into an off colour bruise. I’d had enough. I admitted defeat. I would try the Husky Fit.
Though the sizes gradually increased as I grew older, The Husky Fit remained the same. As I became wiser with age I realised that husky was not just another word for fat. I discovered that my Uncle Palmer, a man who could hardly be described as fat, also wore Husky Fit Nevada jeans.
My huskiness was the result of body type and bone structure. It was also the result of something much deeper; it came from the ancient Viking Scandinavian blood line, from those who were famed for wearing Husky Fit pantaloons. It was time to discover whether my husky build was the result of poor exercise habits, bad diet, inbreeding or something deeper. I needed to discover my roots. To Norway; the land of mountains, lefsa and Husky Fit men.
|Frogner Statue Park|
I spent the evening in an Irish bub near my hostel with a 50-year-old Norwegian room mate, sipping on Â£7 pints of Guinness. He told me the story of his life; winning a gold medal for rowing at the 1984 Munich Olympics, living in LA, Detroit, Grand Canaria and Dublin, and of his current exploits working on buying out competition for Xerox. He made me realise that I have a lot of living left to do. After he left I hung out with more middle aged married men who advised me never to become a middle aged married man.
I left the warmth of the friendly pub and stumbled into the icy streets. I walked into a Norwegian metal club and immediately began discussing the meaning of life with frustrated artists, chewing tobacco, and arguing politics with some artsy university girls. Travelling alone forces you into extroversion.
The next day was spent travelling on a train through the mountains to Geilo. A trip Lonely Planet described a “the most beautiful train ride in the world.” A considerable amount of this day was also spent consuming hard boiled eggs. The eggs were provided with compliments of my hostel and by days end I had eaten seven (this would cause considerable embarrassment throughout the rest of my trip). The hostel turned out to be my very own log cabin in the woods. I spent the evening watching Norwegian sketch comedy (oh how the Norwegians love their bad physical humour), and reading a book about Nazis.
I ate another hard boiled egg for breakfast (yet another bad idea) and spent the day on the slopes of Geilo skiing my little heart out. While I had planned to enjoy a lunch of hard boiled eggs, the two eggs I had stored in my pants were both crushed creating quite the mess in both pockets. I instead dined on a £12 Norwegian sloppy Joe. At the end of the day I made my way to the lodge, exhausted from a day of hard downhill skiing, to find I had missed the last bus and had to endure a 4 km hike back to my hostel. I returned to my log cabin feeling down on my luck. This luck, however, was about to change in a big way.
Europe is a continent with a liberal outlook on nudity and sex. Many of its beaches are topless, billboard ads on the sides of major highways often show scantily clad or half naked women, and on page three of many popular newspapers a layout of a naked model usually resides. My awareness of this liberal outlook on nudity did not properly prepare me for what was about to happen.
|Snowy Hills of Geilo|
As I walked into the sauna area I could hear the voices of several women. I got down to my boxer shorts and proceeded to the sauna. The sight that lay before me was something out of a dream, or a porno, or a dream sequence from a porno. There they were; 4 drop dead gorgeous, incredibly fit, and completely naked German girls. I debated acting apologetic for intruding upon these girl’s privacy, but the girls seemed completely comfortable with us being there and so I tried to follow suit. We sat in close quarters and talked about everything but sex. They were incredibly friendly, even flirty, and after some conversation I realised that the situation was even better than I had first thought. On top of being four, good looking, naked, and increasingly sweaty German girls, they also fulfilled almost every stereotypical fantasy our porno-ridden world has created. There was a secretary, a teacher, a police women and a nurse. Re: “Nice guys finish last”, we were both nothing but gentlemen and eventually watched them shower and leave.
Some men would be filled with regret for not at least attempting to seduce these women. But almost certain failure would destroy this completely perfect memory. And so, I am grateful to the porno gods for giving me this gift from above.
Now, here I sit on my plane back to Newcastle having just endured a 4-hour train ride from Geilo where I talked school and politics with two more lovely Norwegian girls. I return from Norway no more enlightened as to the roots of my husky build (I found most Norwegian men to be quite skinny), but having added a swerve and loop to the ride of life. It is New Years Eve tomorrow. Then, 2006. My resolution is to have more adventures like the Norwegian sauna incident and less adventures involving hard boiled eggs.