Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hallå? I said into the phone. I was calling A., the TV producer, but every time I called, I kept getting connected to some place with lots of French people talking in the background. Just what I needed as I was trying desperately to keep up with Christmas, which seems to be leaving me breathless this year with all the venison dinners, madrigal concerts, rock concerts, glöggs, Lucia processions, and shopping that have taken over my life in the past two weeks.

Five minutes later, A. called.

"Did you just try to call me and get connected to a French bakery?" she asked me.

Well, yeah, I guess that's what it was, I told her.

She laughed an evil little laugh. "I have my phone set up to forward to a bakery in Paris when it's someone I don't know," she said.

But you know me, I said, indignant.

"I just couldn't get to my phone fast enough," she said. "Isn't it funny?"

It's kind of mean, I told her.

"I know," she said, ignoring the fact that I was speaking in my sourest voice. "I have this side to me that sometimes I can't believe I have," she said. And she laughed that evil laugh again, forcing me to laugh with her. Because, well, it is kind of funny.

The Swedish phrase for the day is jag skulle vilja prata med.... It is a most formal way to begin a phone call if you don't know who you are talking to, and means I would like to speak with.... The appropriate way to answer the phone - unlike in the U.S., where one simply says "hello" - is to simply state your fullname, or even just your surname. I think my favorite way of answering the phone is the way the Italians do it, with a "pronto."

- by Francis S.

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