Saturday, October 17, 2009

Toilet Humour. In Sweden.

Permit me to be crass or vulgar for a few moments. Now, if you're reading this and you're Swedish, well you may not see this post as either.

Now "apparently" here in Sweden, it's perfectly fine to make the business you have going on in the bathroom public knowledge. It's ok to announce exactly what you plan on doing when you head on over to the toilet. And if you have a raging case of diarrhea, feel free to let your co-workers in on the frequency and consistency.

Was having a discussion on all that is the washroom with my Swedish teacher, who happens to be from Armenia. Not exactly sure how we got on the subject but there we were. Now in Armenia, if you need to "go", you never actually use the words "toilet", "washroom" or "bathroom". Even if you're a young student in class and need to be excused to take care of your business, you just ask the teacher if you can leave the class. Noone questions your destination. You could be going anywhere really, to meet up with your bf for a makeout session, grab a quick ciggie with your friends or home for a nap. But it is assumed that if you're asking to "go", it means, well, you're on your way to the bathroom for a #1 or a #2.

Uttering any such word associated with what comes out of your body is taboo.

Where I'm from, we DO indeed say the words "bathroom" or "washroom" or not-so-frequently "toilet" when we need to go. We're a bit more specific on that front.

But I cannot imagine an occassion where I turn to my co-worker in the middle of frying up some burgers and exclaim matter-of-factly, "Gotta run and take a dump. Cover my station for me? Be back in 5 or 10 depending on how hard I have to push and how intriguing my reading material is."

Apparently that's the way it is here in Sweden though. My appalled Armenian friend, a real classy young lady btw, explained to me that her co-workers, whom she is not particularly close with, frequently update her on their bathroom habits. They didn't share a womb, don't necessarily share the same social circle and have really only known each other for a year or so. But, "Dominika, can you run this sushi platter over to table 4 so I can take a shit? That's the last time I'm mixing a litre of Absolut with Tomato Juice."


Another expat girlfriend recently told me her boss called in sick the other day. "I have diarrhea so bad I've been on the toilet all night." Let's give her the benefit of the doubt here. Maybe she was really playing hooky. You know when you're pretending to be sick, you always give WAY too much detail about your illness in an always failed and exagerrated attempt to convince your boss and others that you really are sick? Never works.

But c'mon people, who goes THAT far?

Well, by all of two accounts so far, the Swedes do. Fellow Swedes, am I right here? Can we extrapolate these two isolated incidences to a national epidemic? And if so, what the hell? Keep your shit to yourself. Pun intended. :-)


septembermom said...

You made me giggle today. Those are some funny conversation topics. I'll keep my bathroom episodes to myself :)

SwedishJenn said...

Ditto SeptemberMom!

H F W said...

Lol! But at the same time EWWWWWWWWWWWW!

Thomas Andersson said...

Hahahahaha, well Jenn... one word to answer your question in the last sentence: no, you are not right.

However, there's a certain distinctive difference between english and swedish, just like you imply in the third paragraph. A "normal" swedish sentence would be (direct translation): "Excuse me, I have to go to the toilet". Note here however, that the swedish word for toilet (toalett) means both washroom and the actual toilet. In the above sentence, "toilet " is translated to "washroom".

SwedishJenn said...

@ Thomas: We have the same thing in English. You can use the word "toilet" to refer to both. But Thomas?! You mean these two isolated incidences do not permit me to stereotype the entire Swedish population?! Dang it! But it was so fun...Let the record show that, according to Thomas (lifelong Swede), Swedes in general are not icky when it comes to poo. :-( But it was fun to write about anyway!

Lisa - edenwild said...

lol. I thought this was funny. At home we are fairly liberal talking about our bathroom habits, but not in public!

This is my first stop in on your blog, btw. I've seen you over at Holistic Mama.

SwedishJenn said...

Hi Lisa and thanks for stopping by. I've seen you over at Mon's blog too and will now have to check you out :-).

Tod said...

I say there were two isolated incidents only but EWWWWW(holy c..) at the same time.

SwedishJenn said...

Hi Tod and thanks for stopping by! And you were right, two isolated incidents. See how quickly I jumped to conclusions? But it was still fun albeit disgusting to write :-). So I thank these two isolated losers for giving me some fodder.