Swedes have an interesting attitude about fame: It's not a good thing, more or less. (Not unlike being a boss, which is also nothing to aspire to in Sweden. It all has to do with that damn jante-law thing wherein no one is better than anyone else, supposedly.)
As an American, it comes as a shock to see popular rockstars, TV actresses, duchesses, best-selling novelists or beloved comedians walking on the streets of Stockholm, rather pointedly being left alone by passers-by, not a single papparazzi in sight. Me, I can barely stop myself from jumping up and down and pointing and yelling "Look, look, it's whatsizname! Hey, I loved your latest movie/song/book/scandal! Look everybody, it's whatsername!"
But I just pass on by silently.
To be honest, the whole anti-fame thing is one of the things I love about Sweden. Of course, there are downsides. Like today when I came out of the office and the ex-football player was standing there.
"Hey," he said, as shocked to see me as I was to see him, smiling at me as we hugged a hello.
He's just someone I've met in my life here, and in part because of the whole Swedish attitude about public figures, I don't really think of him as someone famous. Mostly, at least. There is a horrible small American part of me that was secretly wondering if my little boss could see me just then, because he is the sole person in my office who might think somehow that it was worth it to treat me with a little bit more respect on account of my knowing someone like the ex-football player.
Then again, maybe not.
What is more, I've become Swedish enough that I had a little inner battle with myself before writing this - too many people I know read this, and I hate to admit that I ever even contemplate such things.
The Swedish word for the day is verkligen. It means for real.
- by Francis S.