People say “hi” twice in Norway to greet someone, like “hi hi”, but sometimes, in a pub, you can meet someone who simply burps 12 times in a row to say “hello”. Approcing a bar and asking for a beer can be an extreme challenge for a not so corageous traveller who just arrived in Oslo, or even in some isolated valley in Hordaland. You look around expecting sooner or later a Viking with an axe to show up and cut your head, just to empty it, eat your brain and then “Skål” with his tribe of friends to your health.
So you sit at the bar, alone, paying attention to everything and everyone around. I think you need to experience a new place, you need to go through the fear of any possible threatening before getting lost into the beauty of living in another state of mind and in a brand new world. After a while you soon realize you don’t have to fear anything in this country, there are no Vikings, and even if they were they would probably be very nice people. It’s difficult to be bad when you belong to the majesty of nature.
Soon after fear a smooth melancholy walk on your tongue and inside your spirit. You are safe cause you are isolated and alone, and you are sad for the same reason. You are a foreigner in a silent country and you don’t expect anyone to come to you and talk. It’s cause you don’t expect anything to happen that every surprise, every greeting, every apologizing or thanking is a good reason to smile, caressed by a soft joy. And then, in the most silent of the silence around you, someone comes and sit next to you and talks to you and tells you about your life. Norwegian people are great as long as they are sober. Maybe that’s why there’s a sort of undeclared prohibitionism on alcohol, ause they give the best of them when they are not drunk. Prohibitionism consists mainly in the high cost of alcohol.
The most alcohol is expensive the less you can drink. The less you can drink, on the other hand, the most you can enjoy alcohol. And so, as soon as they are sober they sing and dance and talk with unknown people, but not in the way they would do it in some other parts of the world, annoying all the people around, but spreading around somehow their joie de vivre, the happiness of not being sober, that regeneration of ancient Viking party that you progressively discover were not so violent, but really full of life and enthusiasm. But with alcohol, like with everything in life (drugs, sport, culture, sex…mainly sex), you need to train to be good at, and if the “alcohol gym” where you usually train as a pretty expensive entry fee, you cannot train very often and so it happens that, after five minutes of relaxed happiness you enter the grey valley of terror for at least 20 minutes. So it happened few days ago that I was in a bar when a girl sat next to me. We talked shortly and soon she surprised me lighting up a cigarette starting smoking it from the filter. I tried to warn her about the fact she was wrong, but you know, nothing is more dangerous than a drunk woman when you try to tell her how to do something in the right way. Well, actually there’s something more dangerous: a drunk girl who smokes an entire cigarette smoking first the filter, and yelling at you cause you didn’t want to her to smoke her cigarette that way.
Hopefully a really old man came. He was completely drunk, of course, and he told me he got diabetis, stomach cancer and some issues with his heart as well. I tried to suggest him not to drink that much considering his health conditions and not to smoke 3 cigarettes in 6 minutes at least. He looked at me and then he left. I tried to apologize, but he said there was no reason to apologize cause he was just going to the cash machine to withdraw some money in order to get some more beer. Hopefully, exactly in that moment, the girl I mentioned before moved her purse on my side, throwing my glass full of beer in the flowerbed.
I thought maybe the ban on alcohol was only for poor foreigners who just arrived in Norway, foreigners who drink cause they are used to, that means with no reason, people who do not deserve to take part to a mystic ceremony that has its roots in ancient rites.
So I decided to leave and to go back home, smiling, thinking that people like these would not survive in my favourite wine bar in Bologna longer than 30 minutes, that if they were there they would melt like snow at the equator, thinking that they are not trained and they are not strong enough to drink alcohol and they cannot stand it. But they smile and sing and greet and talk with everybody. I smile, going back home to sleep, and still smiling before sleeping that they are simply the infancy of the world and that they enjoy a wealth that’s not made only of Norwegian Crowns.