Johan The Wonder Swede

My a cappella singing group gets together every Monday night, presumably to rehearse. Sometimes, however, more pressing issues require our attention.

Here is a dramatic re-enactment, so that you all may enjoy.

Please note: Descriptive commentary is in italics. My blog commentary is [in brackets.]

* * *

The Scene

A small conference room in an office near San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. Five women are seated around a conference table that takes up most of the room. It is 7:30 and the sun has just set. Rehearsal has officially begun.

Lisa, counting out number of chairs: How many are we again? There are ten of us now?

Me: Ummmm...yes. Definitely ten. I think.

Lindsay: It's ten. Ten is an easy one to remember.

[The Loose Interpretations gains and loses members the way any organization does. For some reason, however, it is near to impossible for any of us to remember how many of us there are. You would think the number changes every week. In truth, we could be ten people for three years, and still someone would ask "What are we? 9?" Because math is hard.]

Lisa: And is everyone coming tonight?

Me: Yeah. No one said they would be out.

I say this with authority. I will soon discover that I have no idea what I'm talking about.

Lisa, still counting: Okay, then we have just enough chairs. Oh wait! We need a chair for the auditioners! Shit!

Lisa, who works in this office, runs to get the 11th chair.

She reappears two seconds later. With no chair.

Lisa: Is the phone working?

The five of us stare at the phone, as if staring at it will answer the question of, "Is it working?" Nothing happens.

[For the last two+ years, we have been rehearsing in Lisa's office. For the last two+ years, the beginning of rehearsals has gone the same way: when one of us arrives at the main entrance to the building, we buzz upstairs. The buzzer rings Lisa's phone, which is located in Lisa's office, which is down the hall from the conference room. She has three rings to get to the phone before it hangs up and the person buzzing is left stranded outside. This means that for two+ years, Lisa has appeared to have some sort of physical manifestation of Tourettes. She will be sitting in the conference room with us, chatting, warming-up, being normal...and then all of a sudden she will LEAP! from the table and BOUND! down the hall like a madwoman, often crashing into a chair or desk or doorknob.

This is very disconcerting, because it is usually surprising. Even more so if you are in the middle of a conversation with her when she takes to racing out of the room mid-sentence.

Anyway, two weeks ago, one of her coworkers alerted her to the fact that she could have the buzzer redirected to the conference room phone. THAT IS THE MOST AMAZING THING, I believe she said. And suddenly she realized she'd been spending the past two years throwing herself down the hallway for really, no reason.]

Lisa goes over to the window and looks down. She sees one of our members arriving.


And we all stare at the phone some more. We are silent. A solid minute passes and nothing happens. We look from the phone to each other, as if to ask, "Has technology failed us? Will Lisa have to return to her previous Tourettes ways?" And then the phone rings! Hurrah!

Except then Lindsay picks it up AS THOUGH SHE HAS NO IDEA WHO IT IS.

Lindsay, in a very professional voice: Hello? May I help you?

Jean through the buzzer: Wha...? It's Jean?

Lindsay pushes the button on the phone to let Jean up. That matter solved, we resume our present-member cluelessness.

Lisa: Wait, so who are we missing?

[The expression "Wait, so who are we missing?" is uttered every single week at about 7:37 p.m.]

A heated discussion ensues as we try and remember who isn't present. Keep in mind that there ONLY TEN OF US. You would think we were trying to solve a differential equation.

Me: Carey's not here yet.

Lisa: Is Carey coming?

Me: Well, yes. I mean, um, I think so.

Sandra: WAIT! I think she said she wasn't coming.

Lisa: So not Carey?

Me: What about Frances?

Lisa: Isn't she getting married in a week?

Sandra: No, in two weeks.

Lisa: But do we know if she's coming?

Me: She may not be coming.

Lisa: So if -- Hi, Jean -- that's no Frances, no Carey...then we're only missing Dianne and Susan.

Lindsay: Didn't Dianne say she wasn't coming?

Me, Lisa, Sandra: ???

I decide to check my phone to see if anyone's called to say they will be late. They haven't. However, I DO have a text message from Dianne. Reminding me that she is out of town.

Me: Dianne isn't coming.

Lisa: Oh.

Lindsay: I thought not.

Lisa: So we're only missing Susan then?

Me: Yes.

Lisa: Okay, so we totally have too many chairs set up.

At which point the phone/buzzer rings and I pick it up.

Much to all of our surprise, it's Frances.

Me: It's Frances.


By 7:45 we have seven of us around the conference table. To the best of our knowledge, we are now only missing Susan, who is never flakey. Thus, we assume she is not coming, but none of us can remember why. I call her and leave her a message, "Um, it's almost 7:50, are you coming?" And because we are not actively rehearsing but instead waiting for an auditioner to arrive, the conversation ensues.

Lisa: So Sandra, are you happy we have found you a husband?

Sandra: The Swedish text messages you mean?

Lindsay: What?

Lisa: Kristy and I were out on Saturday night with a group of people and there was this guy there. Named Johan. Although Kristy insisted on calling him Hans for the first few hours.

Kristy: Sorry.


Lisa: Anyway, he was tall and he really wants to date a Swedish girl. Wait, how did we learn that? Why do we know he wants to find a Swedish girl?

Kristy: Umm. I'm not sure. I may have asked him why he doesn't have a girlfriend.


Lisa: But we really think you'll like him! He does technical stuff for work, so that means he's geeky! And he's cute and nice!

Sandra: Is he tall?

Lisa: He's really tall! He's like...Johan the...WONDER SWEDE. So we were like, WE KNOW A SWEDISH GIRL!

[Sandra is originally from Sweden. She is also gorgeous, and has a thing for geeky boys.]

Sandra: Is that when the text messaging started?

Me: It must have been.

Lisa, to the others: It was AMAZING! They were sending all these texts to each other from Kristy's phone. IN SWEDISH.

Amanda, getting to the heart of the matter: So how do you know this Wonder Swede?

Me: Umm...

Lisa: Umm...

Me: I don't um...I don't think I know. He was at dinner, right?

Lisa: Yeah. Isn't he friends with the girl who works with your friend's husband?

Me: Oh! Um, I think so...

[Clearly, we know Hans/Johan very well and have every reason to endorse him to our dear friend. Wine.]

Lisa: Sandra, he is PERFECT for you. And I am pretty sure I invited him to my birthday party [wine] so you can meet him there! Kristy, make sure he knows to come to my party.

[And with that -- for the time being -- the matter of Johan the Wonder Swede getting together with Sandra was settled.

A little while later, right at the end of one audition, the phone/buzzer rang. MUCH to our surprise, it was Susan. So we let her up and just as poor, unsuspecting auditioner was leaving, Susan came in looking very, very upset.]

Group: Susan! Hope you're okay! Sorry you are just missing -- Susan, this is Jenny, Jenny this is Susan.

Susan and Jenny shake hands and say hi.

Susan, looking disconcerted: I am so sorry I'm late. I'm sorry I missed your audition, Jenny, but THANKS! For coming! It's good to meet you! I'm sorry.

We all look at Susan with concern. We are unsure why she's late and/or why she is apologizing so profusely. Then she hangs her head down a little and puts her hair behind her ears.

Susan: I might be a little bit...wasted.

We laugh, collectively. After all, it is MONDAY.

Susan: I just, HEY, I'M GETTING MARRIED! In like a WEEK. And did you know that people will buy you DRINKS? When you're getting MARRIED!? And my coworkers are all STEVEN IS IN VEGAS FOR HIS BACHELOR PARTY SO WE'RE TAKING YOU OUT so we went downstairs and we got some drinks. I am so sorry. Jenny, I'm sorry. I work with geeks and they buy me drinks. I'm sorry, I got your message, Kristy, and I was like, OH SHIT. And I -- I can't believe it's already NINE O'CLOCK!

Me: Susan, it's 8:15.

Susan: I know! I can't believe it!

Us, to Jenny: Uhm...we wish we could say it's never like this.

We start to usher Jenny out, laughing and apologizing, but only sort of.

Susan: So what else did I miss?

Lisa: Well, we found a husband for Sandra.

Susan: WAIT! NO! I have a boyfriend for Sandra! I have been meaning to set them up! I know a guy she should date. And he is from DENMARK!

Us: Wow...

Lisa: But Johan is from SWEDEN!

Susan: Johan? Well Rasmus is cute. His name is Rasmus.

There is discussion about this new Rasmus development.

Amanada: Rasmus might be competition for Johan.

Lisa: What does Rasmus do?

Susan: He is a computer geek, so Sandra will like him. He's kind of beefy, but sexy beefy. SEXY BEEFY!

Susan delivers the line "sexy beefy" with enthusiasm, and much pointing at no one in particular.

Lisa, to us: I think this is my favorite version of Susan so far.

Amanda: Rasmus is sounding pretty good.

Lisa: Yeah, they may be pretty evenly matched.

Kristy: Plus "Rasmus" is fun to say. It's kind of like--


[I am not sure if I was going to say Razzmatazz.]

Kristy: Razzmatazz!

Susan, sort of quietly to herself: Razzmatazz gets into fistfights in North Beach.

Amanda: What? Did you say fistfights?

At this time, the conversation is momentarily diverted when Lindsay brings up how amazing it is that fights always draw so much attention. Then she tells the tale of how she grew up in Mississippi and the county fairs would ALWAYS involve fights, and those always drew more attention than anything else at the fair. Her description actually ended with the following sentence:

Lindsay: ...and there's really just nothing to do but drop your fried pickle and run toward the fight.

[I actually grabbed a piece of paper so that I could write that down. Because it is a priceless sentence.]

We did meander back to the subject at hand, however. Namely that Rasmus/Razzmatazz is perhaps more violent than would be good for Sandra.

Lisa: Well, then, Johan is definitely better!

Susan: NO! Razzzzzzzzmatazz is good, though!

Kristy: We should invite them BOTH to your birthday party!

Lisa: Ohmygod -- they can have a DANCE-OFF!!!

Amanda: A Nordic dance-off to win Sandra's affections!

Lisa: Johan the Wonder Swede versus Razzmatazz the Angry Dane!!!

Much discussion is had about what the dance-off might include. More apologies to Jenny are given as we walk her to the door. Someone mentions that it's odd that our next auditioner hasn't arrived yet.

Susan: Oh her? I saw her on my way in. She's waiting in the hallway.

Upon hearing this, Lisa bolts from the office as though she's heard the phone ring to go and fetch another unsuspecting girl.

[Ladies and gentlemen, my a cappella group. Creating a Nordic dance-off.]


* * * *

That night after rehearsal, I received a text message from Johan the Wonder Swede, asking for Sandra's digits. Apparently Lisa and I made very convincing (read: INSISTENT) (wine) arguments for him to get in touch with her.

Yesterday, I got an IM from Sandra saying she and JtWS have scheduled a blind date for this Friday.

I wish them well.

But I'm still rooting for a dance-off.


  1. Dontcha just love hanging out with girlfriends...Good luck to Sandra and JtWS. May they hit it off although a dance off would be fun too. I love options:)

  2. Kristy: Plus "Rasmus" is fun to say. It's kind of like--



  3. I'm just going to sit here for a couple of minutes imagining the Nordic dance-off between the Beefy Dane and the Wonder Swede. Overtones of Footloose keep bleeding through for me, though.

    Heh. That was a great post!

  4. Fried Pickle! Gah! You crack me up. Every day when I check your blog and see a new post is like Effing Christmas!


  5. First time here; loved this post. Way to capture the heart of a group through dialogue. Loved the part about dropping the fried pickle.

  6. Someone in your group needs to write the lyrics for the song "Wondersuede" arranged to the tune of "The Theme From Spiderman" and then sing it at Lisa's birthday party for which apparently my invitation has been lost in the mail.

  7. That is one of the best girly conversations ever.

  8. This post is made so MUCH funnier by the fact that I've met and know many of the participants.

    I've never even considered that the conversations we've had at Total Eclipse rehearsal should be shared with the world. I'm bringing a tape recorder next week.

    @othurme - my invitation must be with yours in the "D-List" pile.

  9. Maybe what our band needs is a Total Eclipse scribe. Forget the recorder, just invite Kristy to our next rehearsal.

  10. I almost peed my pants visualizing this-- the wasted Susan description is priceless. And then I cried because I MISS YOU GUYS!! Sigh.

    Lisa, will there be any Wonder Swedes at your New York birthday party? (FOR WHICH I AM VERY EXCITED!!)

  11. This is probably the best way to recruit members. I don't sing, and I live in Boston, but I REALLY want to join your group!

  12. Oh my goodness people...don't get your panties in a bunch. No one had received the invite until just about 5 seconds ago.

    That post, and that night was HILARIOUS. I think Susan should be wasted all the time. Also, I'm DYING to hear how Sandra's date with JtWS was!!!

  13. I don't live in SF, and I really shouldn't sing EVER, but manoman do I wish I was part of your group. So much fun! Thanks for sharing, Kristy.

  14. Official recap of my date with JtWS:

    Met for drinks at the Gold Dust Lounge downtown. As per Kristy and Lisa's description, he is indeed tall, cute, smart and fun.

    The bar was loud so I spent half the time lip reading while struggling to remember how not to sound like a 5 yr old when speaking in my rusty mother tongue.

    I think we will hang out again. Probably not ready to have his babies quite yet though. At least not until after his dance-off with RtAD. (For the record, JtWS said he's not much of a dancer.)

    My vote: second place gets a fried pickle.

    @alix - I also vote we use Footloose as the dance-off song.

  15. I want to fly out from DC just to audition for this group. It sounds like an unforgettable experience.

  16. OK, I was not yet reading this blog when the post first went up, and so have been redirected from Kristy's more recent post.
    May I please have an update, not only on whether Sandra ever saw Johan again, but on whether she ever saw Razzmatazz at all? And whether the entire Nordic contingent made it to that birthday party two years ago?


Post a Comment

Popular Posts