A typical Saturday night: We went to see Closer, a sort of diet version of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf where the profound cynicism has been reduced to egocentric guilt and the expressions of despair are about as deep as a summer puddle after a five-minute thundershower. But it was entertaining nonetheless, if only to see Julia Roberts' eyes gone dead as black pools of ink.
Afterwards, over takeout sushi and beers in our dining room, N. regaled us with tales of how she has to keep her mobile phone on at all times as a sort of hotline from the Vatican, on account of she does the website for the Catholic Church here in Sweden. She gets constant updates on the health of the current pontiff and in fact, has to be ready at any time to rush in to work to put up a special webpage in case the longest-reigning pope in recent memory at last finds out if in the afterlife God has some special horrific and painful punishment for those who go out of their way to promote homophobia and hatred.
Then N.'s boyfriend, the distant royal, told us how he was bitten once by a rat that crawled up his trousers as he stood outside a club at four in the morning, having just come from a costume party.
The low point of the evening was, no doubt, when I insisted that, in Star Wars Episode CDXXVII: The Attacking Clones Return to Strike Back Menacingly, the character played by Natalie Portman is called "Princess Amidala." A., the TV producer, hotly disputed this, saying the character was "Queen Amidala." Not surprisingly, I now owe her a bottle of Louis Roederer.
After everyone had left and the husband had gone to bed, I sat in the library in the dark in front of the bow window and watched the moon appear and disappear behind thin wedges of cloud while the snow came down dancing - it's snowed almost every day for the past week and a half. And I thought to myself how sitting inside a warm apartment and watching the snow is the only thing in my adult life that gives me that same feeling of safety I used to get as a child when sitting in the back seat of the car during a long drive through the black night on a lonely Iowa country highway, my father driving steadily, silently, my mother sleeping next to him or just watching the road without saying a word.
The Swedish word for the day, at the request of A., the TV producer, is oj. It has been the Swedish word of the day before. It's a simple exclamation of surprise.
- by Francis S.