We are invited to Skinny Swede’s husband’s 40th birthday party on Saturday night. It is hard enough buying a man a gift, let alone one from another culture, that you don’t know overly well. A bottle of wine is always nice and appreciated, but, let’s just say, muy overdone. Forty is bigger than a bottle of wine. Where to get a gag gift? And while I know Sr. Swede’s a snuss (Swedish chewing tobacco) consumer, I am not sure if he’d smoke a Montecristo. My dilemma was solved this week while at the garden center. I spotted this little gentleman:
Fuchsia, metallic, and tackier than a monkey lamp, I thought to myself, “Now there’s the perfect gift for the Swede living in Spain!”
Garden gnomes are to Spaniards what pink flamingoes are to Floridians. In explicably, there is a plethora of them. I have not seen so many garden gnomes since watching the movie “The Full Monty”. In a walk around the block this morning I spotted a total of three gardens sporting gnomes. And these were just the gnomes I could see from road. There are probably more.
Gnomes, trolls, and dwarves are also ubiquitous to Scandinavian culture – “uff da!” – so I am thrilled to have found such a cross cultural gift. That it is pink and sparkly, well, I am sure it will dress up Skinny Swede’s garden. And while I passed on the 159 Euro mini-Xian warrior this week (I didn’t buy one in China, for goodness’ sake) from the same garden store, you know I bought a pink gnome for myself. The orange one doesn’t go well with my garden color scheme.
Mr. Understanding was not so thrilled with my choice. So I hunted in my present closet and came up with another set of Table Topics*, a game which the Swedes played at Thanksgiving and enjoyed.
“Where’d you find that?” he asked.
“The present closet,” I replied.
“Oh, I should have gnome,” he said. “Get it?”
“Ha, ha. Very funny. Yes, I get it.” I think my sense of humor is finally wearing off on my husband.
Now, to the other subjects, in breve so I can get most of them in.
1) Rant: the Spanish hospital administration would not let Thing 1 lie down on their vacant waiting room couches when she was doubled over in abdominal pain last week. No fever, no vomiting, but American and wearing sweat pants. She had to sit up, I was told, or leave the area (but go where?). They could provide no reason for their policy; it was just the rule. I will stop here but do want to point out that I think they’d have kicked Jesus off the couch as well.
2) Madame Malbouef commented to me during our absolutely FAB visit that I was a “Large in Charge”.
“What’s a Large in Charge?” I asked.
“A big sister,” she said. She, very nicely, stopped short of saying “bossy”. (But you know she was just being diplomatic).
“Haven’t you ever heard that term before?” she said.
Madame Malbouef grew up in the Detroit area; her father has nine siblings and her mother seven. I had never heard the term before but am adopting it. Among other things, it has made me examine my speech patterns – I have the soul of a general after all – but perhaps others don’t appreciate this so much???
3) El Botin – favorite Spanish restaurant in Madrid (I did not have one before). It’s in all the guide books and according to them, Goya (famous Spanish painter) was a bus boy here. It’s also in the Guinness Book of Records for oldest operating restaurant. Next door to the Plaza Mayor, this antique, several storied restaurant serves delicious food, the waiters are friendly (!BONUS!), they are kind to children, and, the sangria is delish. They even sell sangria pitchers and plates with their name on it, reminiscent of Tio Pepe in Baltimore and my beloved plate restaurants of Brazil. Finally, it is no more expensive than any other restaurant in the area and the table linens are swish. It has made it onto the Princess’ Must See/Do in Madrid list.
4) We’ll skip the crazy neighbors and, instead, I’ll leave you with a joke for your kids:
Q: What do they call Santa’s football stadium?
A: The Gnome Dome.
*Lulu Powers‘ sister Julie came up with the idea of using them as place cards!