Things That Ain't Hygge

Oct. 13 - It's Monday the 13th.

Everyone's always worried about Fridays that fall on the 13th. But those are Fridays—what's not to like?

On the other hand, you never hear anyone outside the clergy or food service industries saying, "Thank God It's Monday." Mondays are so wretched they even taint the last few hours of Sunday.

So it's Monday the 13th. Let's be careful out there.

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[You may be wondering why I haven't said "Howard Dean sucks" yet. It's because The Hill now claims the Dean campaign isn't paying outside bloggers to write favorably about Dean: they're only paying those "bloggers" who contribute to Dean's own website. Still, political blackmail doesn't seem like such a bad scam so I'm going to stick with it. All politicians suck until they write me a check—and it clears.]

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At the birthday party we went to Saturday I tasted Cuban rum for the first time in my life. I smoked a Cuban cigar at some point this summer—I'm not much of a Cigar guy, so it didn't make much of an impression. But Cuban rum—that's good rum. And don't think people don't know it—that bottle disappeared in about forty-five minutes, while five or six other liquor bottles gathered dust on the buffet table.

There was square-dancing at this party.

The last time I square-danced was in my high school gym class back in 1983. I didn't like it back then and I'm not crazy about it now, but I'll tell you something: hearing a square-dance called in Danish was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. "Drækker vi nu, do-si-do, pølsen er varmt og ikke dyrt, face your partner, hvad er klokken..."

Meanwhile, the Danish national team was fighting Bosnia to a tie in a game that earned them a place in next year's European Cup. The Danes are so proud of their national teams that when I saw a huge TV in the middle of the banquet room I asked if it would be turned on for the game. No, I was told, that would spoil the party.

Fair enough.

But I've been to American weddings where anxious sports fans listened covertly to transistor radios tucked away into their suitjackets (less covertly, of course, in the case of men who weren't actually on the altar). I remember one Catholic wedding, at which I serving as best man, where the priest himself borrowed my Walkman to get caught up on some scores just prior to the ceremony.

So I'm beginning to think the whole notion of this Danish soccer "obsession" may have been a little overstated.

Oh, but it's not. I know it's not. It's only the Danish dedication to hygge that kept them from watching or listening to the game. Not being hygge in Denmark is like farting at a library. People may understand and forgive you, but you're not going to make a lot of friends.

There's a standard definition of hygge that most Danes will give you: "It's sort of like cozy," they'll say, "but it's not." Then they'll build on this foundation by citing another twenty or thirty English adjectives that don't define hygge. Once they're sure you've got a grip on all the English words that don't mean hygge—and we've got a damn lot of them—they'll start hitting you with examples. A candlelit-dinner for two is hygge. Fluourescent lighting isn't. A lazy, rainy Sunday morning spent lounging around in your bathrobe is hygge. Lounging around bus stops isn't. A quiet and dimly-lit cafe is hygge. Produce sections aren't. Telling ghost stories around a fire is hygge. Using a cellphone on a bus is not.

Raindrops on rooftops and warm woolen mittens are probably hygge. Brown paper packages tied up in strings might be hygge. Jumping around like an epileptic dervish and singing about your favorite things... ikke hygge.

Cats are hygge by nature. Spastic poodles are not.

If any of this gives you a handle on hygge then you've probably completely misunderstood it, which means you may have reached the Zen state of bewildered consciousness required to grasp the concept of hygge.

Anyway, turning on a television or listening to a radio at a party are both excellent examples of things that ain't hygge.

(I wouldn't have thought square-dancing could be hygge, either, but I'd never heard anyone say do-si-do in Danish. That'll knock a whole lot of notions clean out of your head.)

Oh—one more thing: it's pronounced somewhere in between hoo-guh and hew-guh.


One-hundred years ago today, on October 13, 1903, the Boston Red Sox beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first ever World Series.

The Boston Red Sox.

Not the Yankees. The Red Sox.

It can still happen, guys. Come on.

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October 13 is the birthday of Nancy Kerrigan (1969), Jerry Rice (1962), Marie Osmond (1959), Paul Simon (1941), Lenny Bruce (1925), Margaret Thatcher (1925), Nipsey Russell (1924), Art Tatum (1910), and Molly Pitcher (1754).

Happy Monday the 13th!

© 2003, The Moron's Almanac™

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