Oslo Syndrome and the Snus Ruse

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No one ever wants to admit to  being friends with people who have earnestly read The Game. Specifically someone who loiters around pedestrianised areas in the afternoon pestering women with stories they learned from a middle aged Australian in a suit jacket and jeans. Sometimes I even wonder if the pick up “artist” industry  is just an elaborate joke created for my amusement (See Big Bang Theory’s and Paul Rudd’s  take on the Game but, though often the funniest are just real ).  However, every now and then a friend of mine confesses to having read the Game and to have used its “tricks”. This has led on one occasion to the alarming realization that friends of mine have spent entire Friday nights pretending to have a heated discussion about the number of continents in the world – purely as a ruse to start talking to women.

Now two other English friends of mine have developed a ruse specific to Norway. I have seen it in action and it is indeed depressingly effective.  It goes a little something like this:

Our Englishman (lets call him Bean) sights a Norwegian woman, or in pickup artist language a “target”.  The target, tall handsome, half sat on her bar stool cradling an I-phone, looks happy and relaxed.  Nonchalantly,  she pops a snus on her gums to give herself the appearance of one who has just walked into a door.  Spotting his opportunity Bean approaches with exaggerated caution and in his best Hugh Grant stutter begins: “Excuse me, I couldn’t help b-but notice that spherical little box you have there, I keep seeing it everywhere and I was just wondering what it was”.

The Norwegian woman, after the initial shock that a stranger is talking to her, warms once she has grasped the question: “oh oh this, ha yes it is snus. You don’t know?”

Bean: What is this… Snooz you talk of?

NW: ha ha its Snus silly

Bean: Ha ha, Snuss,

NW: Snus

Bean: Snus Snus snus, okay I got it, but what is it..

NW: Its tobacco you  put on gums like this – want to try it…?

Bean: Yes okay (puts pouch on gum)… ooooh it feels … strange… tingly…

Okay you get the idea, now imagine going through these motions again and again every time you want to talk to a Norwegian girl. Eventually it must begin to wear away at your soul.  Certainly it did my friends’, and on the 4th day of their trip to Oslo they modified the ruse; they approached girls by telling them about the ruse. Which as a ruse I think, is both better and more ethical.

Sadly or happily, depending on your take, my friends initial breakthroughs were continually undermined by their bad cases of Oslo Sclerosis.  For those that haven’t heard of it, this illness only affects non-norwegian visitors to Norway rendering them socially incapacitated.  Striking instantly upon arrival the illness is characterised by an inability to stop complaining about how expensive everything is. Lasting days, weeks or even sometimes months, its victims are often reduced to conversation comprised almost entirely of squeaks, obscenities and numbers. Whole days can be spent window pricing, that is looking at the price things purely for entertainment, like an economic wonder of the world.

“Look look look – Lynx deodarant is 60kr, thats like like like, 7.50!!

Oslo sclerosis is at its most vicious in bars and pubs.  Indeed, newcomers to Norway are often physically unable to buy a beer from a bar without expressing shock, anger or dismay at the bill.  They will also have an uncontrollable urge to tell whoever will listen about the price of stuff in Oslo.  This conversationally is like going to England and describing the rain to everyone you see and why you don’t like it. It is also something that every Norwegian who has ever spoken to a foreigner before will be intimately familiar with.  They may smile, nod and agree with you but what they want  to say is:

“Yeah stuff here costs more than elsewhere,  but please – shut the fuck up about it!”

And so it transpired with my friends; the Snus ruse broke the ice but Oslo Sclerosis froze back it again. They went home alone on each night of their stay.

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About Paul Beaumont

Occasional journalist, part-time socialist & full time International Relations PhD student. Available for hire - but never in the morning. Academia page: https://umb.academia.edu/PaulBeaumont
This entry was posted in Notes on Norway, Short Stories and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Oslo Syndrome and the Snus Ruse

  1. Love it. Really funny, nice one!

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