May 29th, 2010 • Travel Stories
The Curious Case of the Drunk American:
When: April 2011; 4 days
|The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen|
I have one remarkable story to share. The solitary statute of the Little Mermaid (from Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale) is Denmark’s pride. We made the thirty minute walk from Nyhaven to see her. The guidebooks extol her beauty but we were warned to keep our expectations in check.
We were besotted. She was breath-taking. She evokes a deep sadness and longing. The area was least assuming – no tourist traps, no food vendors or memento vendors. Just her. Alone on her rock.
A passing cyclist stopped by us and chatted us up cracking jokes and telling us little anecdotes about the Mermaid. For a 98 year old statute, the Little Mermaid has suffered two decapitations, one theft and and several vandals (once someone colored her entirely neon pink). But she’s just been restored back to her original state by the Danish government. “She’s the most photographed little lady in the world, perhaps.” remarked our cyclist friend.
It was a calm evening and the dusk was fast approaching. We were high on conversations and the Baltic air. The atmosphere around us was full of lightness and happiness. A bunch of backpacking Euro kids stopped by and admired the Mermaid’s graceful stance. A father hoisted his two daughters on a stone next to the Mermaid to take a better picture. All was well until, three (I’m afraid) loud, brash and severely inebriated American kids ambled up to the Statue. On their arrival, the moment was broken and the spell was broken. The crowd began dispersing.
One of the drunk kids, decided to truly prove every single stereotype about Americans (but didn’t realize that he was just illustrating a stereotypical asshole.) He proceeded to climb up the slippery rock and mount himself on top of the Little Mermaid. Then he began making vulgar proclamations and touching the Mermaid inappropriately. Several families with kids turned away and the group of European kids stood transfixed observing this uncouth American kid. He commanded his drunken friends to take photographs of himself over the Mermaid. And after entertaining him for a few minutes even his drunk friends sensed the disdain and rage amongst the bystanders and became nervous. They began making loose statements and disowning their friend, “I don’t know you.. You aren’t with us. Get down.”
This encouraged the drunk friend and he took his antics a notch above. My heart reached out for the motionless statute. I understand its a lump of metal, but the kids antics felt extremely violating. 98 years of history had bequeathed the statute a life. What this kid was doing and what probably several other kids had done, felt wrong and disrespectful. It defiled her. Shortly thereafter, having made his very important point about his superior balls and large penis, the drunk kid began his descent.
There was a wave of unrest amongst the crowd. My friend and I debated yelling at the guy. The Euro kids looked continued to stare at the three boys. Our cyclist friend stood next to us and observed. Silently, everyone was hoping for and demanding justice. Karma.
And then it happened, the drunk America slipped his footing and splashed into the water. His cheek slammed against the rock and he got up, dazed. But the minute it happened, the onlookers erupted into an applause. (Myself included) How the mighty hath fallen!
The fall wasn’t dramatic, the water was barely half a feet. And the kid wasn’t injured. But there was a poetic and metaphorical justice to this fall. The story had come to a beautiful close and our eyes reflected satisfaction and pride at a revenge well served.
Among other highlights from Copenhagen, here is a brief photo slideshow. Hope you enjoy!