Tuesday, August 11, 2009

From East to West Part 2: On Men

We moved to Sweden in January, after a 2.5 year adventure in the Adriatic Beauty that is Montenegro. Bordering the jewel of the Adriatic, Croatia, Montenegro really is the best kept secret of the former Yugloslavia and in 2007 was named the fastest growing tourist destination in the world by the World Travel & Tourism Council.

Snow-capped mountains, blue waters and lush green vegetation abound. We packed up our life in Canada at the request of our dear Swedish property developer friend and headed to a country we knew virtually nothing about, excluding compulsory Internet searches of course. I was 7 months pregnant at the time but had sense and opportunity enough to fly back to Canada to give birth to the little guy.

I digress. I'll save the long story of our life in the Wild Beauty (cue Montenegro tourism commercial as seen on CNN) for another post. But after spending almost six months as a resident of Sweden, I thought it was about time to compare life in this Eastern European country (freshly independent from Serbia circa 2006) to life in one of the richest Western European countries. This will be a regular series I believe, because there's too much to say and I don't know when to stop typing. So here goes,

From East to West Part 2: On Men

Note: Proceed with caution and a sense of humour. These are my observations and they include some fun stereotypes. Obviously not all men are the same and there are exceptions. But here are the "rules" as I (and many others) see them.

The Modern Swedish Male- Enjoys his Government-given months-long paternity leave and excels at it! He can often be found pushing strollers and swings and trying in vain to stop a toddler meltdown in the middle of the grocery store.
- He shops for the family groceries
- Has dishpan hands
- Has dinner ready when his partner returns from a long day at the office
- Politely offers and often insists to help out in the kitchen during dinner parties
- He doesn't take a woman out on a date. He accompanies her on a mutually-enjoyable evening and pays for his half of the meal only, down to the cent. Because to pay for the entire meal would apparently be an insult to the woman AND perhaps insinuate he expects something special for dessert
- He doesn't actually hit on a woman unless he's extremely drunk. Otherwise, the woman usually leads the mating ritual
- He is an equal contributor to the household, from folding laundry to dressing the kids and scheduling their doctor's appointments
- A wedding and an actual marriage certificate are entirely optional and seen as an unecessary formality (by both sexes)

The Traditional Montenegrin Male
- His pastimes include working when he feels like it and spending endless hours sipping coffee, usually after a mandatory shot or three of brandy, in local cafes with his buddies
- He is served his meals by his doting wife. He plays host once a year, alongside his wife, during his slava / Saint's Day. Every Serbian Orthodox family has a patron Saint. The day-long event includes relatives and dear friends who come to celebrate, eat and drink amazing amounts of traditional foods and alcohol. It's the most important day of the year. Another exception to this rule, grilling food. Nothing more manly than roasting a lamb on a spit.
- He only goes into the kitchen when it's time for another beer and that's only if his wife is out
- He has no idea how his clothes are cleaned and pressed and doesn't care
- He loves his children and can now be found pushing strollers in public
- He is a master at the art of seduction
- He would spend his last 2 dollars before he let a woman pay for anything
- When his wife is in labour, he is not allowed in the room. If it's a boy, he's usually firing a gun on top of a mountain somewhere with a bottle of homemade brandy in hand surrounded by his newborn's Godfather and his "brothers", singing national songs, hugging and crying. Same for a girl, only no gunshots warranted.
- Grocery stores are usually for alcohol and cigarette purchases and on rare occasions, emergency household items
- Marriage proposals and weddings are sacred, celebratory and almost mandatory events. Societal dissaproval still runs rampant for those "living in sin" but mindset is slowly changing.

Feel free to add to these lists folks.

So which of these men would I like to date/marry if I were single (which I'm happily NOT). I'd say neither. They are both two extremes. I'd prefer a nice mix. Could I watch as my "date" for the evening breaks out his calculator to even out the bill? Not without emptying my stomach contents. But that's me...

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