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Simon-centric programming will return shortly. I have pictures to post and two more Norway posts to go, and a quick update on our family status to squeeze in the middle. Today’s installment is about irony.

The Sunday after the wedding was my last day in Norway and my only day with nothing on the agenda. I had planned to spend the day in Roros, a preserved medieval mining town southeast of Trondheim. What I had not planned was for the entire country to shut down on Sunday. The shops are closed, many restaurants are closed, even the grocery stores are closed. You can’t buy alcohol before one or two in the afternoon, and most trains don’t run until about the same time.

That meant the earliest Ian and I could get to Roros was around 4:30, giving us fewer than two hours before it would get dark and we would need to take the train back to Trondheim. Roros had to be scratched. In its place, we spent half the day walking around Trondheim at leisure and the other half back in Skatval (the bride’s home town) visiting with Jim, Sigrid, and Sigrid’s delightful family.

Our walk took us to the wondrous Nidaros Cathedral, site of the wedding the day before, which we enjoyed visiting at greater length and whilst more comfortably shod. Then we headed across the street to visit Trondheim’s small synagogue and museum, the self-proclaimed most northerly in the world. (It’s not, Congregation Or HaTzafon in Fairbanks is a full degree more northerly, but why burst their bubble?)

Anyway, I was mildly curious to see this synagogue; located as it is in a city with around 100 to 150 Jews and in a country that is home to a scant 1,500 in all. Times being what they are, and sadly Europe being what it has always been, you could not walk into the synagogue freely the way you could walk into the cathedral. Instead, you had to pay a very small museum admission fee (very small, the cheapest thing in all of Norway I can safely say), sign in, and show a photo ID, all for security purposes.

Now I need to explain two things before I continue my tale. The first is that any time I have been out of the South, explaining I am from Kentucky inevitably elicits one of two responses:

“Kentucky? Like the chicken?” This comes when I am abroad.

“Kentucky? There are Jews there?” Or, alternatively, “Kentucky! What’s a nice Jewish girl doing in Kentucky?” This comes when I am in New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and the like. The speaker is typically Jewish him or herself, has identified me as the same, and is frankly astonished to find me outside of the east or west coast or major metropolitan centers. Frankly, finding Jews in Ethiopia was less shocking to this group than finding Jews in places like Kentucky or Alabama.

The next thing you have to know is that the staffer taking IDs and cash from behind bullet-proof glass has the kind of brown hair you can tell was once blonde, eyes bluer than the sea, and cheek bones sharper than some of the knives in my kitchen. He was the very picture of Scandinavia, a Viking straight from a saga.

So you can perhaps imagine my shock when this piece of Norse masculinity took my photo ID, examined it carefully, looked up at me, and said with a wry grin on his face:

“Kentucky! Not many members of the tribe there, eh?”

What????!!!!!! Did I hear that correct? Yes, yes I did. In my shock, I simply muttered something about their not being too many, but it being a bigger population than where he was sitting.

What I wanted to say was something like, “Listen, Prince Caspian, I have to take this teasing from someone from, say, Brooklyn. But from you? You with your blazing blue eyes and dangerous cheekbones? I don’t think so! I added a full percentage point to the Jewish population when the plane landed for cryin’ out loud…”

So there’s irony for you. I travel from a city of around 9,000 Jews to visit one of the world’s most northerly outposts, intrigued and amused to see what Judaism in the hinterland looks like, only to be assessed as a member of the final frontier herself by a guy who looks (and probably is) about as Jewish as I look (and am) Norse.

One Response to “Irony”

  1. blg says:

    a great story of irony.

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