Sven transferred to my high-school during our junior year from Sweden. The first time I laid eyes on his feminine golden curls which reached his nipples and lanky boy body that solely consumed Nutella and lingonberries, I knew I was in lust. It was like staring at a Burberry ad; there was so much external immaculate beauty, but absolute emptiness beneath it all. Sven wasn’t an idiot, but he wasn’t extremely bright either. That’s why I thought I could trick him into dating me; I would intrigue him with my American belligerence and Wet ‘n Wild lipgloss, and we would go from there. One Friday, after watching our high-school football team be squashed by similar Neanderthals in bright jerseys, I invited him to go get frozen yogurt with my friends. He ordered vanilla yogurt with raspberries and giggled quietly and uncomfortably while we sang Shakira in the car.
“You know, I really like IKEA,” I offered, trying to find common ground.
“It is a very nice store,” he replied.
“I love the Swedish meatballs. They’re my favorite. I also really like The Knife. They’re totally Swedish,” I said.
“That’s very good.” I couldn’t break him. His small, delicate face suggested that we were a circus compared to the teenagers back home. He was nonplussed and seemed bored.
Needless to say, my charm didn’t rub him the right way, in any way, in fact. I stopped fantasizing what it would be like to have a Swedish boyfriend. I had these imaginary conversations with my parents, where I would say, “I’m inviting Sven over for dinner. He’s Swedish. He’s very different from all the other boys in school,” so I had to stop having those, obviously. Sven went on to date a few quiet girls and I had a few annoying boyfriends and then we went to college and I didn’t run into him again until our sophomore year.
We were at a party. It was winter and everyone was home for break and very deprived from accessible alcohol. The party happened to be at Sven’s house; this was something I didn’t realize until I saw him. He was wearing a lime green t-shirt, a few glow-stick necklaces, and was sweating profusely. He smelled like BO and granola.
“Welcome to my home. Would you like me to perform a light show for you?” He asked, pointing to his gloves, which had plastic glow-stick tips.
“Um, okay. It’s nice to see you again,” I said meekly, American belligerence was gone and replaced by universal confusion.
I sat down on a bed in the guest bedroom and watched Sven take his shirt off and start spinning his arms around like a windmill on acid; he circulated his hands in rhythmic motions and wafted his musky smell towards me.
“Wow. That’s pretty cool.”
“Thank you so much. I am so happy you enjoyed it,” Sven said, sweating. His eyes bulged.
A few beers later, I learned Sven was on ecstasy. He no longer looked like a handsome girl with whimsical long curls, but a young man with slight 70’s facial hair that bordered on creepy, but was still technically attractive. He was no longer reclusive and scared of me either; before I left, he invited me back to his parent’s house the following night.
“To, like, hang out?” I asked.
“Yeah man. I want to get to know you. The real you,” he said dreamily, as though now I was the foreign concept, a philosophy waiting to be experimented with.
I drove up to his house the next night. There were maybe three different driveways, so I had to call him and ask him where to park my car.
“Wherever, man,” he said.
“Okay,” I agreed. I parked by his Jeep and met him at one of ten different patio doors. Whatever his parents did in Sweden was very lucrative. His house was extremely white, in a modern art exhibit way. I took my shoes off and clumsily held on to them as we walked up the pearly stairs and into his room.
White as well, the walls were bare except for a poster of Sven himself, modeling as a pre-teen for a snow boarding company in a fluffy neon-yellow and blue jacket, looking like a seductive cherub.
He turned on some techno, and we made out in his bed that looked like it was from outer space, and as he tried pulling my tights off, I informed him, “I’m not having sex with you tonight.” I secretly gave myself a brownie point.
“Okay, man. That’s very cool. Would you like to go to a rave with me?”
“Alright,” I said, as though this was the obvious next step in our relationship.
The rave was in a few weeks, and by then, both of us had to drive back to our respective colleges which were a few hours away from each other.
“You guys, I’m kind of dating this Swedish guy,” I told my room-mates as soon as I arrived, putting my suitcase down and whipping out my laptop. I showed them his Facebook.
“He likes ‘plurlife,’ ‘meowing back at a cat when it meows at you’ and ‘hiking’. Very dynamic, Gina,” my room-mate’s best friend Justin said.
“Yeah but look at his hair. It’s so beautiful.”
“It looks like he hasn’t washed it in like three weeks.”
“Humans aren’t even supposed to use shampoo, anyway,” I reasoned.
“He looks dirty. Like he does yoga in dust all the time,” my room-mate said.
“Does he only hang out with girls? Look at all those girls he’s doing drugs with,” Justin said.
“He might not be doing drugs.” I looked at the picture; he was surrounded by three girls in purple glittery bras, cat ears, and glow-stick headbands. Their pupils were tremendous. I wondered if he had sex with at least one of those girls.
The night of the rave, I met Sven in L.A. at a hotel room his ex-girlfriend’s dad had paid for; it was some swanky place where I had to pay for valet, which was annoying because the only cash I brought was for emergencies. I walked in the room nervously; Sven was dividing up drugs and orange juice, his ex-girlfriend was putting on a few layers of eye shadow that made her face look like a galaxy or fancy bruise, and another couple was getting dressed in the bathroom.
“Girl, you are so beautiful. Let me help you get ready for tonight,” Sven’s ex-girlfriend said.
“Um, thank you,” I said.
“You’re so beautiful. We are all so beautiful here. In this hotel. On this planet. It’s so important to look at ourselves in the mirror and repeat, ‘you are so beautiful’ but only once a day. To remind ourselves. Do you ever take baths?”
“You should. Like once a week. You become, so, like aware of your body. It’s so beautiful, you know?”
After we sufficiently prepared for the rave, Sven’s friend drove us to the Hollywood Bowl and there everyone split up, except for me, Sven, and his ex-girlfriend. A huge inflated mushroom materialized on stage and I couldn’t help but wonder if this girl was going to linger around forever. Was it common practice in Sweden to go to raves with current and past girlfriends? Was I Sven’s girlfriend? Was this weird?
“We should have a threesome!” Sven suddenly exclaimed, his eyes bright and crazy.
“What?” I said.
“Yeah, Sven. That is such a beautiful idea. Absolutely beautiful,” the ex-girlfriend said.
“Um, no?” I started to panic. I was struck in L.A. in a sequined mini skirt and in no condition to find my way to safety. The stupid valet had all my money.
“Are you sure? It would be so..,” Sven started.
“Beautiful. It would really connect us, girl,” the ex-girlfriend crooned.
“Your skin is so soft,” Sven said, petting my shoulder.
“Yes, it’s so, so soft,” the ex-girlfriend added, grazing my arm with her fingertips.
“Okay, stop it. I can’t. I can’t do this,” I stammered, and walked away from them and the inflated mushroom. The music was pounding into my head like an ear infection.
I sat outside sipping a Gatorade I found on the floor until the show was over, hoping it wasn’t laced and that I could somehow fast forward time and be in my own bed. This is what happens when you agree to go to rave with a Swedish mad man. You end up drinking someone else’s arctic ice flavored spit on a curb in the cold with no money. Good job. I ended up going back inside because I convinced myself I was getting hypothermia, and ran into Sven and his gang. They had seemed to completely forget about the threesome suggestion. The ex-girlfriend even wandered off to go touch soft things, so I decided to get things going again with Sven and maybe he could deal with doing things the normal way.
But he seemed distant and perhaps disappointed, and when we got back in the hotel, we all just fell asleep. I woke up in the morning and snuck out of the room before anyone could notice that I was gone. I waited for the valet to bring me my laughable Camry. When the driver saw me with my sequined skirt, drooping purple eyeliner, and bird’s nest hair, he nodded as though he understood the need to get away. You have no idea, I thought.
After I hadn’t heard from Sven in weeks, I noticed that he updated his Facebook relationship status to “in a relationship,” and I laughed. I was certain it was with his ex-girlfriend who clearly was not out of the picture yet. I clicked on his page, only to discover a new face. A girl with tan skin and short hair; I ventured into her photo album and discovered she once modeled with nothing on except blue paint. Pictures of them at the beach suggested they had been seeing each other for awhile; she was the kind of girl who would sex with him in his parent’s pristine house, the kind of girl who was probably enough for him.