2007. With Saddam Hussein, Augusto Pinochet and Jerry Ford dead, we can start the new year with a clean slate. Our long international nightmare is over.

I was just kidding about Jerry Ford. I don’t have anything against him really.

Well, add New Year’s Eve 2006 to the list of weird ones. I headed down to the town square to meet up with people at 11 p.m. I had in my bag the Soviet Champagne and a few cans of low-alcohol cider, the kind that you can buy in the supermarket, not Systembolaget. Public drinking isn’t legal here, but it’s usually tolerated. Usually.

Well, as always, I was early and everyone else was late so I had to stand around looking stupid in the town square while groups of drunken teenagers walked by and made faces at me. I was bored and my bag was heavy so I took out a cider. I was idly sipping it when a police car pulled up and a window rolled down “Blåhblåhblåhblåh dricker?” the policeman said. “Sorry?” I said. “Are you drinking cider?” “Yes.” “What percentage is it?” “2.25.” “That’s OK then.” He smiled.

Thankfully the friends turned up soon after that. We walked around downtown which consists of three entire city blocks. Lots of drunken teenagers, very few normal people. I was still holding the cider can. A policewoman approached me. “Blåhblåhblåhblåh cider?” she said, and held out her hand. I handed her the can, thinking she was going to check the alcohol content. “Blåhblåhblåhblåh väskan?” I opened up my bag. She took three cans of cider but somehow didn’t notice the champagne. She walked away. “WTF?”, I thought. I chased after her. “Ursäkta jag talar bara lite svenska men that policeman up there said that 2.25% was OK.” “How old are you?” she said. “Thirty”. She handed the cans back.

Fucking hell, how lame am I, at 30 years old, wandering around in a crowd of drunken teenagers getting harassed by the cops for drinking low-alcohol cider? I’m ashamed of myself. New year’s resolution: time to be an adult. Though it’s hardly convincing with my baby face.

Anyway. We walked around a bit more and then it was almost midnight. Midnight itself was fun. The church bells rang for 15 minutes and there were fireworks everywhere and the drunken teenagers were festive. By this point everyone around us was drinking, hyper-vigilant cops notwithstanding, so it was decided we should open the champagne. But the cork would not fucking come out. Everyone tried it. Finally some genius decided to try to use his keys like a corkscrew, which managed to break off the top part of the cork and render the bottle impossble to open without a corkscrew. Various plans were hatched for obtaining one. A tall middle-aged Iraqi-Swede (who will henceforth be called O since I don’t quite know what his name is), a fellow student, took me under his wing and basically forced me to ask at a restaurant for a corkscrew, after persuading them to open their closed restroom for me. While I was in the restroom I discovered that one of the cider cans had punctured and my bag was dripping. Since it was a fast-food restaurant, they didn’t have a corksrew.

Well, finally everyone conceded defeat and we decided to go to the dorm, which is what I had wanted to do all along. Seven of us piled into a car, whose owner was European-looking but he was speaking not-English (that’s like not-rubles) to O and there was some loud music on the stereo in which the word “habibi” figured prominently. He doesn’t live in the dorm, and he left soon after we got there, so I still don’t know who he was. When we got to the dorm we went to one of the kitchens, where some other students were having a feast. O greeted one of them by saying “Hello Chinese girl!” This is something one can do in the international student dorm without anyone getting upset, but still.

OK, this is all too detailed. Basically six of us spent the next four or five hours in O’s room drinking Jameson while O told stories and periodically professed his love to me. He kept hugging me, which was OK, he didn’t try to get frisky or anything and there were plenty of other people around, but he was wearing so much noxious cologne that now I can smell it emanating from my laundry bag.

Finally we went back to the kitchen, where I started to nod off on the sofa. Vova from Ukraine told me that there was a vacant room I could crash in, and so I did. One thing I must say about Sweden is that they produce cheap, thin matresses that are amazingly comfortable. How do they do it, and why hasn’t the rest of the world caught on? I woke up five hours later with a hangover, reeking of noxious cologne. Sweet Vova cooked me breakfast and then I walked home in the rain. Today was possibly the gloomiest day ever, weather-wise.

So that was my New Year’s Eve. Kind of pathetic, kind of OK.

My other new year’s resolution, besides to start acting like an adult, is to spend all future New Years in Russia, where, as I say in the post below, you never have to feel lame on New Year.

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