Yesterday afternoon. Swishing my Erich Fend long black coat I hurry to get into a cab. I’m heading to the Romanian Embassy where I’m invited at a tea event. The specialists from Tante T tea shop downtown Copenhagen are invited to introduce a limited number of guests to various green teas. I look forward to the whole thing, as I’m a green tea drinker heavy style.

While the cab swiftly passes other cars, I fall into a reverie. The images of traffic lights blend with my imagination of Dean Hayduk’s psychoanalytic practice right there in the middle of Strandvejen, surrounded by posh villas owned by the rich. I try to imagine Hayduk at work. The reason why I think of this is because ‘hayduk’ in Romanian means highway robber. I’m trying to imagine Dean’s sense of humor and try to contrast it with that of his clients. I almost laugh, when the sheepishly looking cab driver stops the car by the side of the road near Hayduk’s office. I’m about to tell him, “this is not the ambassador’s residence,” when it flashes through my head that I must have mistakenly given him the wrong address – thus having suffered from a regular Freudian slip of the tongue. But no, the cab driver simply can’t find the destination. I point to his GPS on his board and ask him to put it on. “Ah well,” he says, and then he invents something that clearly is not going to help us. He wants to know whether I myself can’t give him more precise information on how to get to there.

At this point I’m experiencing a dejà-vu. I had just read about a similar situation in the latest issue of In magazine when the editor, Camilla Lindemann, in her lead article expressed major frustration with cab drivers that can’t put you where you want to be put without fussing. At this point I’m exasperated. I stick my hand in my purse with a fury, get out my own GPS gadget, put it on, and we’re back on the road again. I feel robbed, however. As the cabdriver keeps asking: “what’s it saying now?”, pointing to my GPS, and I go, “left”, I’m thinking that he’s has just managed to steal an interesting thought from me. I was in the middle of developing a theory that links the grammar of the unconscious with the urge to articulate ourselves in clichés whenever we dislike the fact that we like somebody.

I hit the embassy without a finished theory. I make a flamboyant entrance. Just as well, given my obscenely late arrival, which is also enhanced by my conscious act of heightening the effect of my impressive, almost baroque looking, and lavishly cut Erich Fend garment. I give the ambassador an affectionate kiss, great diplomatic French style, and take a seat next to the Czech ambassador. And then what do I do? An hour into the exquisite tea tasting – I’m of course high from having had my nose in various greens – I manage to offend the editor of the Danish publishing house Vandkunsten by suggesting that the Danish cartoon crisis was more about the Danes standing to lose a lot of money, rather than freedom of speech – I also say to him, “you know what, follow the money not the morals, if you want to know more.”

When one of my compatriots, a Romanian physicist at Risø suggests that the Danes are very open and direct people, I blurt at him and tell him to get real: “the Danes are as direct as my dead mother,” and continue by telling him that if he pays attention he will quickly discover that the Danes, in fact, take offense like the rest of the world, and sometimes even much faster than the rest of the world. To this, the scientist, who before coming to Denmark worked in Japan for 10 years, makes this remark: “you know, you’re right, the Danes are not as good psychoanalysts as the Japanese. They are not so good at reading signs.” That was a priceless addition. It should have slowed me down. I didn’t.

Next, I go over to the ambassador, and start conversing about academic life and how I loathe certain aspects of it. All this happens in the presence of a très élègant Monsieur le Général. I turn to him and tell him that the ambassador is a reactionary. As the ambassador accuses me of being a dogmatic Marxist in turn, a baffled general hesitantly asks: but you like each other, n’est pas? Mais oui, I quickly reply, before the ambassador has a chance to say anything. I say, “we like each other because he is an open-minded reactionary and I’m an open-minded Marxist.” Whatever Monsieur le Général thought, he thought. When we parted, however, he gave me a marvelously courteous hand kiss, while bowing grand cavalier style with these words: “ahhh, Madame la professeur.” We were evidently both enchanted.

But before the final departure, there was cognac. Romanian style. While sipping the liquor I turn to the Czech ambassador, and deliver a stereotype. As I hand him my card, I tell him that the only reason why I carry such things with me is because I want to get invited to private events that involve string quartets, and as I know that the Czechs are particularly good at that, I expect him to do me the favor. He hurries to promise me that he will, and I believe him. Then we have some very good laughs on account of languages. He’s a polyglot. When the Romanian ambassador approaches us, he tells me: “you know, this guy also thinks that I’m a reactionary.” I turn to the Czech and commit the intentional fallacy: “so you must be a Marxist.” To this, he replies, “my dear, I prefer to think that I’m a human being.” “Oh, there goes a German idealist,” I think to myself, and I instantly get Schleiermacher’s picture in my head.

At the end of the day, I wonder, whether I managed to be diplomatic – read that as nice – to anybody at all. I was. The financial half of the owners of Tante T asked interesting questions and I replied politely – but not before I said to him, after he had disclosed that he was a politician, that if he was a liberalist, I would have nothing to say to him. He wasn’t.

Overall, I wonder what Freud would have made of so much good humored laughter. Meanwhile, thanks are in order: His Excellency, Mr. ambassador Paleologu, thanks for a great evening – as ever.


Bent said…
I rather see it before my inner eye: You swooshing into Hayduk's front office, asking the secretary in your best Spooner mode: "Is Bean dizzy today?"

Well, if not dizzy already, he surely will be after an hour of you free associating with minimal recourse to nouns and other readable signs...

What Freud would have made of all this is another matter. He would probably have been too diplomatic to say.

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