I often find myself in situations where I am being seduced by extremely attractive foreign men. As someone who romanticizes the idea of leaving Connecticut and living an international love story, I am definitely not complaining.
Two years ago, I had been studying in France for six months. At this point of the semester, I needed a break from all of the damn riots and protests happening in France. Also, I had absolutely no luck with French boys, so my friend Lani and I booked a flight to Sweden. I was on a hunt for my Swedish pop queen Lykke Li and, maybe, a man.
While in Sweden, I finally found a boy that I liked! But, what happens when you’re in line for the bathroom and someone taps your shoulder and asks, “Why are you with my boyfriend?”
Here’s what went down:
In all senses of the word, Sweden was an adventure for me. I was visiting my friend Oskar, whom I had met in Paris a few years back. The thing I love about Europeans is when they say, “Come visit me whenever!” they literally mean it. And, me being the cheap hoe that I am… best believe that I visited for that free accommodation.
It was my first time exploring this democratic socialist “utopia” that everyone raves about. Also, Jesse Williams, the hunky guy from Grey’s Anatomy, is fine, so I had high expectations for Stockholm and its people. Yes, I know only Jesse’s mom is Swedish, but can’t a boy dream?
I navigated the streets as a curious wanderer, looking for nothing, but hoping to find everything!
It was early April and even though the rest of the world was graced with April showers, Sweden was dammed with polar winds and slush.
To stay cozy, we made our way to a cute little bar in downtown Stockholm –– the Secret Garden. The inside of The Secret Garden balanced the ruggedness of a Vikings’ beer hall and the chic, dark atmosphere of a Scandinavian capital. As assortments of vibrant shrubs filled the wall space, clusters of Swedes filled the space on the dance floor and near the bar. There was a dress pattern among the men: Tommy Hilfiger powder blue shirts, sleek pants, and pointed caramel shoes.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed one of these men quickly approaching me.
“Hi, I’m Olof,” he said with a deep voice and a bumpy accent. It sounded like [hI Imm Oluf]. It was a precious accent! His face was smooth; he barely had peach fuzz. His chin swooped-in down the middle like the mark of a recently scooped ice cream glob. He was the awkward Troy Bolton, High School Musical-type, but I was so into it!
I started blushing, “Oh, hi! I am Nasir.” As the words left my mouth, I observed. His eyebrows were slightly arched; he seemed to naturally have a Cara Delevingne brow during an age where overdrawn Instagram model eyebrows were dominating popular culture. His smile was wide like a grapefruit slice, and he radiated warmth. He looked like he had broken a ton of hearts.
“Where are you visiting from?” he asked. I still wonder how he knew that I wasn’t from Sweden. Although Swedish people of color aren’t particularly represented in huge numbers, they surprisingly exist.
“New York, baby.”
“Oh, wow! New York is amazing. I have been there once. The buildings are massive, and there are lights everywhere. I felt so alive, ya’ know?” He paused and forced eye contact when he saw that I had been avoiding staring directly at him.
“Ah, yeah. It is a wonderful place. I admire the art scene there. But, you know, Stockholm is pretty awesome too.” I smiled and finally looked him in the eyes. They were unnaturally blue and comparable to Spongebob’s eyes. They were piercing and sort of… creepy! But, I wanted to give him a chance.
After flirting in the form of yells over the loud music, he invited me outside for a smoke. Nuh huh… I don’t smoke, but I will definitely watch a cute Swedish boy smoke (as long as he doesn’t blow the smoke on me… then we’d have to fight).
My friend, Lani, had made a few Swedish friends of her own, so she was shaking her booty to Euro-house music while I snuck away with Olof.
It was basically the perfect wingman situation.
As I was getting ready to step onto the patio, he said, “Oh, Nasir. We can’t bring our drinks to the patio.”
“That’s odd. Well, where should we put them?”
“We can leave them here,” he said as he pointed to the dark crevice to the side of the door. “Oh no,” I thought and panicked with, “I’m sorry. You want me to put my half-filled drink on the floor, next to the entrance where countless people are coming in and out? I don’t know about y’all, but we don’t do this back home. You’ve always gotta keep your eyes on your drink!”
The last thing I would need is to end up on Swedish news for being drugged and kidnapped because I was messy enough to let some babyface teenager tempt me into taking my eyes off of my cider.
My city-kid mentality was showing.
He then put my U.S. culture of fear into perspective by reminding me that I wasn’t in The States, and that it would be okay.
“Fine,” I grunted and finally stepped outside to be greeted by the kiss of the Arctic. Dressed only in a black lace top, skinny jeans, and a light jacket, I began to shiver. It was so cold that my nipples decided to pierce through my lace.
Maybe it was my sharp nipples that gave it away, because Olof noticed that I was cold, and he offered me the jacket off of his back. He placed it on my shoulders, pulled me close, and rubbed my shoulders and neck.
“Well, you are a good host. You are very courteous,” I tilted my head and looked at the jacket that was warming my shoulders. He moved in a little bit closer and grabbed my hands as if to warm them. His mouth started to move and words came out, but my attention was on his hands as they transferred warmth to mine. Conversations about studies, work opportunities, and other momentarily pointless topics passed.
“You know, you are very beautiful – a beautiful man.” He interjected.
“I’ve been getting that often here. It is probably because y’all don’t see too many black folk.” I thought my joke was funny, but Olof’s face seemed rather unfazed. The language barrier might have gotten in the way of the comedic relief.
“No, that is not true. We just have a good eye for attractive people,” he said with his deep voice.
“I was just kiddi –” He leaned in and stole a peck. My head immediately jolted back, and my upper body, head included, turned in a circular motion to make sure that no one saw what just happened.
“I’m sorry. Did you not like it?” He asked, concerned about my reaction.
“Ugh. Your lips are soft; it was great! But, it is just a bit dangerous to kiss in public here, no?”
“Why would you think in such a way? It is Sweden – absolutely no one cares if two people are kissing at a bar.”
“Yeah, but we are two men…in public!”
“You proved my point… two people kissing at a bar.” He chuckled as if I ought to have been ashamed for bringing heteronormative thoughts into a society that offers a safe space. He placed his shivering finger over my mouth and leaned in again. This time, his kisses were fueled with intensity; it’s not unlikely that he was trying to prove a point about no one paying any attention to two people kissing at a bar.
While his tongue penetrated the space between my lips and forged its way into my mouth, my culturally American-groomed mind couldn’t only focus on the kiss, I was thinking about everything in between. Some cute Swedish boy and I were making out in a Winter Wonderland… I was shook.
Although pleasure radiated to various parts of my body, I was surprised this act (something as simple as a kiss) was being accepted by the other bar kids. I pulled away and looked up, and as he warned… no one looked; no one cared; I felt non-existent and unbothered in the best way possible.
The feeling of happiness in an invisible situation trumps happiness that is observed by many.
This moment was for me and not for anyone else.
Feeling comfortable, my fingers spread and clawed the back of his head to pull him closer to my face. I pulled away, but this time with allure and not paranoia.
“Yeah, wow. That was great. Oh, and I have to pee,” I mouthed.
I rose from my chair to head back into the bar. Once in the bar, my hands searched the passageway of darkness where my cider was placed before. It was there. To drink it or to not drink it? Boy, drink the damn beer. You have a cute little Swedish boy-toy now. Your night has been wonderful, and whatever happens simply happens. I took a swig of the cider and reminded myself that my mission was accomplished –– I kissed a Swede! I handed Olof his drink as well, and squeezed my hand in a I’M-READY-TO-WIFE-YOU-UP way.
After a few more moments of our conversation, my bladder sent signals to my feet for the bathroom; this was a much-needed tinkle after all of the alcohol and excitement from this evening. Booze & boys is my form of heaven, and The Secret Garden offered that to me. Bouncing from the left foot to the right foot, the bathroom line moved quickly. I felt Olof’s hand release my hand; I thought that my “pee-dance” was irritating to his rather calm self.
“Where are you two going?” A woman demanded with a curl swooping down her cheek, as it covered the tail of her right eyebrow.
“I’m going to the bathroom. And, who the hell are you?” I responded in an offended tone.
“Oh, I am his girlfriend?” We both snapped our necks and glared at Olof.
“His, what?” I was sure that I heard her correctly; I just needed to confirm.
“His girlfriend, his partner, his girl. You both are waiting in line to use the bathroom together and I do not like the way that this looks. You can’t go in there together.”
“Wait, hold on. I actually need to use the bathroom. What did you think we –?” I easily closed my lips and stopped talking once I realized that she thought that I was dragging Olof to the bathroom to have some “alone time” with him. Although I had no clue what was going on, I felt extremely guilty! Like, what just happened?
Above all else, I was absolutely offended that Olof’s “girlfriend” would assume that I would have sex with someone in a bathroom stall. I may be sassy, but I always (okay, maybe sometimes) keep it classy.
When I came out of the bathroom, Olof apologized. He grabbed my hand, looked me in the eyes, and shared a moment of sincerity. “Don’t ask any questions. Sometimes I kiss boys,” he said. I respect that 100 percent, but BOYS IN RELATIONSHIPS DON’T USUALLY KISS OTHER PEOPLE! He grabbed my phone and put his Snapchat in. He gave me a bear hug and said: “Keep in touch, okay?” Then he kissed me on the cheek, checked for his girlfriend, then kissed me on the lips.
Hadn’t he learned his lesson?
The next day, Lani and I were on the bus to the airport, and I received a message saying, “That was fun. See you the next time you come to Sweden?”
Part of me wanted to write “Boy bye, you almost had me start a brawl in a Swedish beer hall! Also, you’re out here not being honest with your girlfriend… yay for polygamy, but nay for a lack of honesty.”
But, I was a little boy-crazy at the time, so I wrote “OMG, yes boo! That would be so fun.” Two years later, and have I spoken to Olof again? Hell no, but the thought of a boo-thang in Sweden is comforting. But at the same time, I am always conflicted about this situation. I had a wonderful experience, and I’m glad that he enjoyed himself too, but at what expense? His girlfriend seemed upset, and he wasn’t completely honest with her. I couldn’t help but feel “off.”
After this moment, I realized that you never know what these international lovers are up to. They might be trying to play you, so you need to be upfront with them. Now when I go on dates, I always ask questions like: “Where do you see yourself in five years? Any wives or kids? Any crimes no one knows about? Where do I fit in into the bigger picture?”
This is only one of many disastrous experiences, so I’ve learned to double-check people’s interests. International or not, anyone can be shady. With that being said, skepticism is good, but it shouldn’t overshadow your experience.
Cover all the bases, because you never know what surprise your next international fling will bring!