You can relocate this tale to wherever your roots lie. We all have roots. Read Twain's "Innocents Abroad" for a better travelogue, but perhaps mine may do if you're hung up on sex. Or go to Tijuana. Better yet, rewrite my scenes to speak to your own homecoming.
Do forgive a linguistic deficiency. I could try accents resembling English spoken as a foreign tongue, but I'd have to use all these characters that my computer does with SHIFT-CTRL-u or whatever. You'd have no clue what a little dingy over the letter meant, anyway. Thus I'll write everyone in Holly Nonexotic. If you know the Nordic lilt, just think it in. We sell enough Pepsi and Big Macs and Gap jeans over there that they'll sound like me soon enough. No wonder nobody likes us any more.
TUESDAY (Named for the Norse god of war, Tiu.)
Ann looked at the bed, then back at Inge. It was a double, not two twins. The blue comforter gave the headboard carved with swans a fjord setting, maybe. Maybe Ann didn't understand Norwegians, she wondered. Women could share a bed; there was plenty of mattress. It was just the presumption of it, she supposed.
Ann's Scandinavian preparation was the "Lonely Planet". Her roots were here, so just the language thing would be the issue. Norway and Sweden were totally civilized, not like, say, Spain. Oslo and Stockholm were Lonely Planet perfect, even to where the 20-somethings hung out. They all spoke English, not like here on an island.
She'd met Inge by e-mail, a distant cousin, whatever distance common great grandparents makes. Ann just wanted some travel tips, but Inge had some holiday time and would be happy to show an out-of-the-way spot to a relative. For a Norwegian, a jaunt to Sweden was an exploration for her too, she insisted. They'd go to Gotland for the beaches, as Norway, she freely admitted, wasn't best in everything.
Inge was great -- her English not American, but it was quick. Inge's speaking Norwegian to the Swedes and they, Swedish to her, sounded the same to Ann. The American quickly realized that a local ("local" here being of regional scope) knew more than one might find in a paperback written by expatriates. As these places were expensive, an insider's cost cutting translated into more days for exploration.
Inge would kiss Ann on the cheek every morning. "They do this in Italy, not Norway, but we're cousins."
It was Inge who had booked the Visby inn -- three days to suntan. Ann hadn't come this far for the rays; but it would be a Scandinavian experience. She'd college friends who visited Europe just to see how close it could be to America.
Inge grinned as they set their backpacks by the bed. "Do you like it?" It was already after dinner and too late to suggest otherwise. The rosy-cheeked maid, fluffing their pillows, offered a cheery, "Valkommen." Almost English, actually. And they wear those little white caps for real!
"Oh, sure," agreed Ann about the sleeping arrangement. "I don't roll around much, I hope."
"If we roll together, we will then be warmer," volunteered her guide.
Tired from their journey, they slept well.
WEDNESDAY (Named to honor Odin, chief god in Norse mythology.)
Seen from the ferry, Gotland's shore was more rocks than sand, uninviting by North Carolinian standards. It looked cold. Inge, on the other hand, saw the sun. Even when the sky was overcast, she sensed the sun.
So did about a million others toning their Nordic fairness, what to Ann seemed a scrubbed-clean look. She knew she looked the ethnicity at least somewhat, judging from being spoken to in undecipherable syllables. Her being blond of course helped. Probably her sensible shoes and cotton shifts enhanced her understated projection. No "check-out-my-tits" American halter top, thank you. She just didn't think of her skin as so clean looking. People smiled when they sorted her out. Ann just wished she'd not had bangs so she'd look more like her cousin.
After coffee at the inn, (strong stuff in this part of the world), Inge found the bus departing for a beach not as close as the brochure-hyped shore of Mediterranean-looking sand. "It is popular with people from Helsinki. You will see."
And Holy Cow! Ann had never seen so many breasts. Topless pubescents batted beach balls with their older brothers. Even older fruens shed their cumbersome brassieres, stiff and multi-ply. Breasts drooped like handbags into their knitting. They'd had their perky years, thought Ann, and she'd have her saggy ones. When Inge shed her top, so too did Ann. Nobody noticed Ann's blush but Inge, who grinned at it being Ann's first time.
The cousins lotioned each other, a strange experience for Ann, but apparently what girls did here. You burn quickly at high latitudes, Lonely Planet had advised. Inge didn't seem to notice how close Ann, applying the lotion, drew her fingers near her areola. In return, Inge stroked lotion fully into Ann's nipples, which goosebumped. Ann inhaled involuntarily. The arctic breeze was what made her gasp, she decided.
When Inge stepped out of her bottoms, Ann held back and Inge said that she shouldn't hurry things. "The Finns do too much and the Americans do too little. Saunas."
Inge was tall, small breasted and her body hair was less blond than her ponytail. Not having gone topless enough to loose her tan lines, she retained the illusion of wearing perfectly fit gauzy cream bra. The girl's big-boned beautiful, thought Ann. In a photograph, to be sure, but even more so in the way she unconcernedly walks by the sea. Ann had seen her come out of the shower in the Stockholm hotel (the one where their room had more than a sink) and had seen her change clothes everyday. Watched, not just seen. But she hadn't seen Inge jump the stray waves.
When Inge, her San Francisco Giants bill-cap pulled over her eyes, asked Ann to add a little lotion where she might need extra, Ann let herself cream the tips of her breasts. The irony, Ann realized, of who was wearing a baseball hat! Not knowing where to proceed, she redid the application until Inge reached below her waist, relieving Ann of the dilemma.
Not as many women shed their bottoms, mostly just the statuesque ones like Inge. Most, like Inge, didn't shave what would have stayed within their bikinis, were they on. Despite their carefreeness, Ann noted, these girls were careful how they sat or lay. Only rarely would Ann see a male trying to look. She could imagine the commotion of American males shoving each other aside to gawk up a skirt. Pigs! Her breasts were just for her over here. Except for Inge, because she was so close, they weren't for show.
There didn't seem to be much standard of modesty. Some suited women wore the bottoms with curls above and below. A few girls went without even a fluff of cover, but the razored ones tended to lie on their stomachs and not stroll around. "Swedish girls," explained Inge, without being asked. "Perhaps we are to think cinema stars," rolling her eyes.
After sufficient surreptitious glances, Ann decided she'd seen enough penises. She'd not stare long enough to see much about any particular one. Never, in fact, was she sure she saw testicles -- mostly just blobs of flesh in hairy tangles. She'd seen guys up close before, three actually, when they were stiff and hard, much more evocative. Swedes talking Swedish weren't as engaging. Or maybe they were Finns.
"Cold water makes them go back as the water makes us go out," smirked Inge, flicking a nipple.
Well, some or the ones that walked close (not the girls' fault, they ruled) were sometimes sort of interesting. Once, an older gentleman jogged by, flopping his proof of manhood. "Swedish meat balls," giggled Inge.
Was that a food name over here, thought Ann? Would a Frenchman call French dressing, "French dressing"?
"Think he gets sore, maybe?" Ann whispered back. "Think sports bras."
"You go bump him and see if he cries."
"No you. I can't say, 'Excuse me, sir.'"
"I can not," countered Inge, "because I am naked and he might bump me back." The two laughed at the scenario, inventing a dialog about repeated bumping.
At the cutest little shop the woman said something in her language that Ann immediately translated to "Come in." Maybe having roots here helps with the ear! Ann bought a little cap like the maid's.
At the inn, Inge ordered their dinner, demurring menu translation. "You will like the taste, only not the name." It was from the sea and served on noodles; Ann was glad she didn't know more. Inge ordered them an after-dinner drink rather incendiary. Fortunately it wasn't large. "Cheers!"
At bedtime, Inge asked, "Unhook me, please," turning away. It wasn't unusual to help a girlfriend with a fastener. Inge stripped to her panties, beige and Scandinavian minimal, poked the side of her breast with a finger, pronounced it not sunburned and slipped under the covers.
Ann undid her bra and pulled on her nightgown when Inge was facing the other way. Being so public had actually made it easier on the beach. She wasn't sunburned because Inge had lotioned her so many times. She could still feel the fingers still, kneading her, always erect from the sea breeze. Ann pulled off her shorts, hit the light switch, and crawled into the other side. The sheets were cold.
Inge giggled. "Ann?"
"Here's a joke."
.... There is more of this story ...