I still remember the first time I experienced a Danish man’s attempt at romance. I was 19 years old and had just arrived in Denmark fresh from the Shire.
I had instructions to meet him at Østerport Station at 6:30pm. Well, I had never been to Østerport Station and I was not happy with my outfit, so after five changes of clothes and a missed train, I turned up 20 minutes late. This is when I was initiated into the Danish punctuality system. “I was waiting at the other bridge, NOT this one,” he yelled. And the romantic tone was burst.
The harsh welcome was quickly forgotten when he led me to the Little Mermaid and laid out a picnic. All was just ‘hyggeligt’ until he blurted out: “I come from a blended family … my mum nearly killed my dad – let me tell you how that happened.” Needless to say, Cupid wasn’t firing any arrows after that conversation.
While mermaid man was bad enough, the next guy who attempted to create ‘romance’ was even worse.
Sitting in a glorified kebab restaurant, he’d pretended he’d forgotten my birthday. Error. He then pulled out what looked like a paper mache football, tightly tied up with red road-signage tape inscribed with the words ‘Du er for vild’ (you are too wild). Turned out this ‘thing’ was my birthday present. Nine layers of paper and countless ‘Du er for vilds’ later, and I’m thinking this better be worth it. It wasn’t. It was ‘101 Scientific Facts You Didn’t Know About the Bible’. I returned the favour on his birthday with ‘101 Things God Never Intended Women to Receive as Gifts’.
This is also the same guy who walked up to me at a wedding last year, held a twig over my head and said: “You know this could also double as mistletoe.”
Lady Gaga coined the phrase “You and me should write a bad romance,” but I do feel the Danes were employing that phrase long before Gaga put it into words.
You see, Danish men equate sex with romance. There’s no flowers, chocolates or jewellery along the way. And let’s just say it’s lucky Shakespeare wasn’t Danish. The great love sonnets known the world over would have been reduced to “Juliet … what light through yonder window breaks … make sure you’re still on that balcony at five tonight. Got a sword fight with your family at six, but I thought we could have a quickie before then.”
For fear of looking like an American (every Dane’s worst nightmare), or coming off cheesy, Danish men and romance are like misguided missiles. The attempt is launched, but completely misses its intended direction. It’s like the saying: “Did you ever hear about the Danish guy who loved his wife so much he ALMOST told her?”
Let’s just say that while Denmark may be ahead in the innovation stakes, they’re prehistoric when it comes to buying a few red roses.