Exchange Trip To Sweden, 1989

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
My experience of living with a Swedish family for a week. Warning: Involves an obese man in his underpants.

Submitted: January 18, 2008

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Submitted: January 18, 2008

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Our headmaster had twinned Heckington C of E School, an extraordinarily close knit primary, with a school in the small town of Hassleholm, Sweden. It was a big scheme devised by a big-thinker – Mr. Downing was well-liked by his pupils, all of whom he treated as worthy equals.

My pen pal turned out to be Johan and we had exchanged letters for year before we made the trip over the North Sea to meet our contemporaries in Scandinavia. Johan, from his picture, filled the Aryan stereotype of a Swede to the ‘T’, blonde haired and blue eyes, complete with small, molish golden-framed spectacles.

The flight had been only my second, but more importantly this was my first without my Mum and Dad. I disembarked, already homesick, and a Volvo coach took us to the school to meet our cousins from the continent. When we met, the first thing I noticed was that Johan was tall. Excessively tall, being almost double my height. I was led into his house by his mother who gripped my hand as though I were prey that might escape, actually crunching the bones together. It was very late, and so we two eleven-year-olds were sent to bed and the lights switched off. My bed wasn’t quite as comfortable as Johan’s looked. Essentially they had just thrown a sleeping bag on the wooden floor without providing a pillow. No sign of a mattress for me either.

‘Godnatt’ his mother said and ominously locked the door behind her.

Exhausted and in my pyjamas by now, I began to drift off to sleep until awoken by the sound of Johan’s computer being switched on. His Amiga spluttered to life and he inserted a blue disk. It fired up and suddenly crudely animated hardcore porn dominated the screen. The imagery was so badly rendered that one had to squint to make out who was licking or jiggery-poking who, or what.  Johan was now wide-eyed and kept turning to me asking

‘Like it?’ as a blonde Scandi licked a pixellated bell end.

‘Like it? Like it?’. I nodded feebly. He stayed glued to the screen until the early hours watching it on a loop.

When morning came I was led first thing into the bathroom to wash, a bath already having been run for me. There was no lock on the door (why not in here but a lock in the bedroom?) and I lay in the tub terrified that someone would walk in. Johan’s mother did, five times. I resorted to shyly cupping my balls every time she entered to check I was ok.

I was at the breakfast table for 7.30 where ham and cheese made for an agreeable breakfast until Johan’s father entered the room. He was naked. I gagged. Except for the kind of Y fronts that protect genital modesty but display a mesh of pubis, filtered through white cotton, he was utterly naked, his obese belly drooping over those wholly inadequate underpants. He went to the fridge, grinning and asking his family repeatedly whilst pointing at me, in English for my benefit,

‘English?!’

‘Ja!’ they all replied – Mum, Johan and his imaginatively named little sister, Johanna.

‘English?!’

‘Ja!’.

Despite the early hour he pulled a beer out of the fridge and sat next to me. His flabby buttocks sank over the edge of his seat and gripped the kitchen chair. He looked directly at me, scraped the blonde fringe from his eyes and asked:

‘English?’

‘Ja?’ I replied, hoping this was the right answer.

‘YES!’ he screamed, and the whole family joined in. He cracked his can open and took a long swig.

‘YES, YES! HA HA HA! YES!’.

I looked at my watch. It was seven full days before I would be on the plane home.

In those seven days I spent half of my time enjoyably with my classmates on field trips. The other half was spent in this Swedish homestead with the Jo twins, the hand squeezing mad-mum and the obese alcoholic. Johan’s father was perpetually in a state of undress it seemed, always with a beer in hand and always laughing at satellite TV channels, badly dubbed into Swedish. I recall I watched the whole of Big Trouble in Little China dubbed into Swedish with him, having no idea what Kurt Russell was on about, what the hell was going on or what Johan’s Pappy was giggling at.

Despite the beautiful lakes, the wonderful teachers and the altogether charming town of Hassleholm, my abiding memory of Sweden is the sound of a chubby drunken man with a hairy back, laughing at a television in his sweaty kecks, as I lay vulnerably covering my prepubescent balls in a tepid bath.


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