Sunday, August 18, 2013

Darkness on the edge of town

"Do Swedish teenagers make out in their cars?"

It's Saturday night on a wide street in an industrial suburb of Uddevalla. As you get close to large towns the name of your destination stops appearing on signs. Instead they point to surrounding communities like Kuröd, the suburb. Almost in Uddevalla, every local knows that, no need to put it on signs.

For out-of-towners like ourselves it can feel a bit disorienting. Like trying for a whole day to get to a certain place only to have it disappear at the 11th hour.

Or the 17th hour.

A car, one single car is parked at the curb on our right. Coming up fast. Martin's going over there to knock on the window and ask directions to Uddevalla. He's fearless and a native Swedish speaker. I'm just wondering if we might be interrupting something. After all, people do not camp out in their cars just so randonneurs can get some help with the final clicks of the day.

While Martin chats with the couple, others address the cultural question. According to Niels-Kristian, "No. It's very rare."

This is confirmed by Soren who has one daughter in college and another in the last year of high school. He should know.

"OK, so where do they make out?"

"In their rooms, at home."

"With their parents there?"


Martin's job is teaching math, social studies, and history to teenagers. Returning with directions, he offers a theory. Swedish cars are smaller than American cars, so it would be too uncomfortable. Very logical. But the Saab 99 is big enough.

There might be a few laughs at this. Polite, understated, quickly snuffed out.

As Martin left the car he saw the woman in the passenger seat raising her hand to her nose. The guy had been quite startled and fearful. Consensus is, they might be doing cocaine. We leave them to it, whatever "it" is.

Something different is making me laugh. Not one of these guys asked about the verb "to make out". It's totally in their vocabulary! Important bit of slang, that.

Considering the trials of the day, something, anything to laugh about is sorely needed and this carries me all the way into town.

1 comment :

  1. Just to clarify and make everyone a bit more comfortable, the verb "to make out" is in my companions' PASSIVE vocabularies. They know about it from American TV and movies, which make up 99% of the media diet in Scandinavia.

    I still think it's funny.