Of course I know it’s only natural to encounter drunk people in bars. The whole point of being there is to eventually become one of them. However, last night was the first time since moving to Sweden that I was met with any real hostility because of my nationality. Or maybe it was because I’m an immigrant. The agitator was very drunk so it was difficult to tell exactly what his problem was. I was sitting with an English friend and we were chatting away, in English naturally, which tends to attract attention from bar patrons curious about those two good looking English-speaking women sitting at the bar. My friend and I weren’t there to get drunk, though, just to catch up and visit. A bar might seem an odd place to do this particularly due to the fact that my friend is three months pregnant. Still, this place is her local, where she used to go all the time before she got pregnant, and she knows everyone there. Plus she was drinking non-alcoholic beer.
While I was visiting the ladies room, an inebriated man had managed to maneuver himself into a piece of bar real estate right next to my friend. I took my seat and saw that he stood slobbering over her not noticing or caring that she had her face turned away from him. She seemed to physically shrink from him every time he opened his mouth as if she were afraid of getting drunk off of his breath. Apparently, when I was away he had ascertained that she was English. When I took my seat he asked if I was also English, to which I replied that I was actually American. What followed was a slurring diatribe against America and Americans and George W. Bush and American foreign policy. Now my friend is not very confrontational, and her usual way of dealing with unpleasant people is to wait for them to go away, which usually works just fine. But this guy wasn’t going away. He kept moving closer and closer to her until he was practically slobbering into her hair. I’m not really that confrontational either, but this had gone far enough. “Okay, you need to move away from my pregnant friend. Right now. You’re too close and you’re breathing on her. So piss off.”
“Yeah, well, you’re breathing my air.”
At that point, I knew what I was dealing with, which was probably a member of Sweden’s most racist and xenophobic political party: the Sweden Democrats. Basically they believe that immigrants are at fault for all the problems in this country, and that those problems would simply disappear if we all just went away. Even those of us who have been living here for years and have paid tons of money in taxes to the Swedish government. “Sweden for Swedes” is their party motto. Having said all that, I should probably point out that my friend and I don’t really fit the description of the type of immigrant the Sweden Democrats don’t like. We’re white, you see. And we’re not Muslim. I’ve been in the same room with people having a conversation about how the “fucking immigrants” are ruining this country. When I politely point out that I am, in fact, one of those fucking immigrants, they quickly reassure me that of course they didn’t mean me. They meant the “brown” immigrants, naturally. Oh I see. You don’t really have a problem with immigrants, do you? You’re just a racist asshole.
Eventually we did manage to get Mr. Racist Belligerent Drunk Man to leave us alone. Maybe he wasn’t a member of the Sweden Democrats after all. He didn’t seem to be giving my friend a hard time for being English, so I’m pretty sure he just hated America and Americans, which is fine. I can’t do anything about that. Haters gonna hate.