Tuesday, July 08, 2008

When we arrived at the bus stop with the cat doctor and his boyfriend in tow, a group of fellow party-goers were already there. We were on our way out to the countryside for a Fifth of July party given by the children’s book writer and the sea captain, and everyone was thankful that the bus strike had ended that morning, just in time.

But then the bus never arrived. So we ordered three cabs to take us to land’s end, over three bridges and as far out in the Stockholm archipelago as one can drive, with Stockholm’s public transportation system footing the bill (how great is that?).

Things were well underway once we arrived, the hosts pressing drinks in our hands, the guests a wild mix of folk from lands near and far, the food vaguely or not-so-vaguely American, hamburgers and hotdogs and chocolate cupcakes with coconut frosting, everyone wiping their mouths with the American flag napkins.

Sometime late in the evening, hundreds of beers later, as I sat talking to a woman who is an agent for a bunch of small clothing labels in Stockholm, another woman who is one of the designers of the clothing labels came in and sat down next to us.

“My boyfriend just peed on 49 trees,” she said. “In one pee. He won.”

The clothing agent looked at me and gulped. We looked at the boyfriend in his long grey sweater and bangs hanging in his eyes.

“Ew! Didn’t you get pee all over your shoes?” she asked the boyfriend.

“Only half over them!” he said, laughing. “No, no, just joking.” Then he looked down at his shoes. “Well, half joking.”

In the morning, it turned out that something like 23 people slept over, including three roommates – two men and one woman – who had slept, wearing matching flannel pajamas, under a canopy set up outside.

We took the ferry back into town, everyone silent and worn out, the cat doctor and his boyfriend jet-lagged still and the husband terribly hung over from an excess of single-malt scotch.

Did you like it, I asked the cat doctor.

“Fun was had by all,” he said.

The Swedish phrase for the day is femte juli. It means Fifth of July.

by Francis S.

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