Thursday, November 11, 2010

Oblivious Abroad


so I came up with a new plan for the blog. I'm always thinking of new plans for this thing. My new plan is to post my stories on Thursday evenings. And when I post, no points or morals or big picture ideas will be provided. And then you can give me point ideas through the weekend. On Monday, I'll weigh in. You know, this might make this feel a bit like a discussion and that could be totally cool.

What are your thoughts? Will you play along? I know one little lady who will; my friend over at PostCollegiate! She's a sweetie and you should visit her blog to say hi.

Oblivious Abroad

When I got to Denmark, I told myself that I was on a great adventure and the only goal was to "find myself." Five girls from my college went with me to Hamlet's homeland, but I told them after week one that I didn't want to spend much time hanging out with them; if I latched onto people I was comfortable with nothing abroad would be able to force me to grow up.

I look back on this and think about how much of a badass I am. Seriously, there I was in a country where I didn't speak the language, I didn't know my way around, my parents were a nine hour flight and layover in London away, and I was pushing away the only people I knew.  Sometimes, I'm super impressed by my crazy ideas. 

Anyways, in week one, I accompanied some of the Americans in my apartment complex to this wonderful bar in the center of Copenhagen, The Scottish Pub (so creative!). 

Everyone loved this bar because they served this huge tube, which looked like a bong of beer. You paid $20 or 100kr for it and you and your friends would be able to drink for a few hours (if you were American) or 45 minutes (if you were Danish). I wish I could show you this amazing contraption, but it's not even on the pub's website!

So there I am, week one in Copenhagen, surrounded by hoardes of American kids who are just as lost in this city as I am. A boy from my crash course in dansk (Danish), decides to meet a bunch of new kids through our shared alcoholism, and purchases the beer tube, announcing that he'll share it with the first six kids to show up at his table.

Obviously, within two-point-five seconds, I'm sitting at a fully occupied table. Kids start moaning as they realize the table is full, but the six of us with seats happily push them away. We all stare around the table with giant toothy grins; we know we're about to get drunk on someone else's dime and it can't be anything but wonderful. As we start drinking, it becomes apparent that we don't know anything about each other so we begin to chit-chat: this is what program I'm in. Here are my lofty dreams for my European semester. How are all of the people here so beautiful? (And they are beautiful. Fucking gorgeous.)

About halfway through the beer tube, our conversation took a telling turn. Fun fact: at the time we were in Copenhagen, the city boasted a multilevel sex museum, Museum Erotica:

Unfortunately, it closed in summer 2009. Luckily, this story is set in late winter 2008, and for seven American kids from seven small liberal arts colleges, this museum in the middle of the shopping street was so interesting. What was in there? How much would we have to pay to go in? Is it appropriate for teens? Would we see porn if we went in?

We considered walking over to the museum (which is literally five minutes walk from the town center), but decided it wasn't worth the sacrifice of our beer. Instead, we continued to discuss the attitudes towards sex in Europe (crash course: no one cares about what you do, who you do it with, and - as long as your 16 or so - how old you are when you're doing it). One boy was talking about how his host mother told him he was welcome to have his girlfriends or boyfriends over whenever he liked. He responded by saying, "Thanks for the hospitality, but I have a girlfriend in the States...and I'm straight."

His mother just nodded, "I know, you've told me. But when you decide to have others over - girl or boy - it's okay."

I was about to snicker, when a few of the other kids at the table shouted out terms of agreement; they'd gotten the same greeting upon entering their host families' homes. One's host father had even asked him how he planned to stay in Europe for four months without sleeping with anyone if the girlfriend was all the way in America.

The only girl at the table, other than myself, spoke up. She said her host sister had explained that no one would expect any Dane at our age to commit to being with only one person. Also, they thought we were kind of young to decide we'd only ever be with this gender or that gender. In Danish terms: we were sexually oppressing ourselves.

We all took a minute a good dose of beer to think this through. Playing with her long red hair, the girl spoke up again. "I think it's kind of a neat thing, you know?"

"Yeah," this one guy said, pausing. "We should sexually liberate ourselves this semester."

"Here ye, here ye!" The boy from my Danish class shouted. We all toasted each other.

"Alright," someone shouted, "all around the table: what are you going to do to liberate yourself?"

"Visit the sex museum!"

"Cheers!" We shouted and drank.

"Go to the naked party in my kollegium (Danish dorm): no clothes, no drink!"


"Enroll in that new sexuality class that's posted on the bulletin board at school!"


"Find a gay bar and compare it to this one."


"STOP!" The read head girl yelled.

"What?" We all asked.

"You." She pointed at me. Crap. The gay bar had totally been my plan for sexual liberation.

"What?" I asked, annoyed to be called out before my idea could be cheered.

"If you don't want to go alone, I'll go with you. Gay bar, gay club, just call and I'm in."

I shrugged, "Okay."

"No, seriously." She grabbed my phone off of the table and plugged in her number. "My name is Rachel."

"Okay." I shrugged again. "Thanks."

"Seriously." She said. She was looking at me really funny- her eyes wouldn't look away from my face and I didn't really know what to do or say.  I looked around the table, hoping the boys to speak up. They were all staring at us intently. As soon as they caught me looking at them, they began chugging what was left of their beers. I was on my own.

I looked back down to my phone. "Rachel Gay Bar?" I asked, seeing how she'd named herself in my phonebook.

"Yeah," She smiled, "so you don't forget."

"No worries: I won't." I promised her.

But here's the thing: I totally did. It wasn't until three months into my semester (and one month before I was going home), when I was sharing a block of hash with some friends when I decided to check through my phonebook and came across "Rachel Gay Bar." And - after quickly running through that night again in my head- I finally realized she had totally been hitting on me in the Scottish Pub!


Before you begin making fun of my gaydar epic fail, you have to remember that when I got to Copenhagen, I was thinking that being gay was this thing I might be, but probably wasn't. Like, I knew that might be what was going on in my head, but I doubted it. I guess this is called denial or excessive ignorance of self. All the same, I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever tell you a story where my gaydar works or I have game with the ladies.

Only time will tell.

Now, suggest your points!

The point of today's story is...


  1. Thanks for the link love and shout-out! I'm obviously a big fan.

    This is a great story. It's a little hard to nail down the point though - I would venture to say that the point is that potential romantic partners are all around and we almost always miss them because we're too busy thinking about the next best thing (or the ideal).

    Or maybe it's that even lesbians can have terrible gaydar.

  2. I wonder if Copenhagen is where Macon women go to figure out if they might be gay. It might have been one of the reasons I went. Cheers to European sexual liberation.

  3. Two comments is better than no comments. Thanks ladies!

    I like the idea of missing potential partners for tons of reasons - sure, we're distracted, but sometimes we aren't even paying attention or we aren't in the right place to get hooked up. Maybe the point is to pay attention, be observant, and really take in everything you encounter every day so you never miss a moment.

    ...although that sounds fairly impossible to do.

    Anon- I love that you aren't saying who you are. And yes, I think CPH is THE place for the sexual liberation/real-world sexual experimentation of Macon women. CHEERS! (or, more accurately, SKOL!)