I watched a Danish series on Netflix a while back – The Rain – and noticed that the lead actress, Alba August, vaguely reminds me of someone from my past.
The Swedish Girl moved in to my neighborhood the summer between junior and senior year. She was 15½, and thus needed rides to and from school until she could get her license. Since she was cool and lived just down the street, I offered.
And that’s what our relationship was: I picked her up (some mornings) and brought her home (most afternoons). For several weeks. That’s about it.
Now I’m not gonna lie and say I didn’t have any feelings for this girl. But here’s the thing: for one, she was younger, 15½ and still firmly in school, while I was about to graduate. We lived in the same neighborhood, so there was the possibility of post-break-up awkwardness . And, to be honest, I was sick of the Duluth High School drama by that point: why date someone at your school and deal with the 90210 bullshit when you can avoid it entirely by dating someone from a different school?
Having said that, I loved every second I spent with The Swedish Girl. I took her to school and brought her home, and we made each other laugh and listened to cool tunes along the way. Sometimes she’d draw me pictures as a thank you for toting her. It was probably the sweetest, most innocent relationship I’ve ever had: a cute Swedish Girl was drawing pictures for me and it was fucking adorable.
But then I did something – insulted a friend of a friend of The Swedish Girl. I think? I never really knew, which is kinda what pissed me off so much when she dumped me as a friend: I never knew why it had to end.
My last interaction with The Swedish Girl came a year or two later.
It was a Saturday, and my friend Jamie and I had gone to Little Five Points for lunch and to check out the action. Heading back to Gwinnett, we got on the Downtown Connector northbound at Boulevard. I got over a couple lanes, then had to brake for traffic. I looked over at the car to my right, only to see The Swedish Girl. She pulled down her sunglasses and raised her eyebrows a couple times in a faux flirt. I, amazed by the coincidence, just smiled at her like a moron. The Swedish Girl then gestured at the traffic ahead and mouthed the words “Wanna race?”
Still stuck in idiot mode, I nodded.
So The Swedish Girl just floored it. She had one of those nicer Accords – the “sporty one” is, I believe the correct Man Term for it. Within seconds, she was off like a rocket, weaving through traffic. It took my Jetta a bit to catch up, but when I finally did, it was neck and neck.
Up the Connector.
Past North Druid Hills Road.
Past Clairmont Road.
Past Shallowford Road.
Doing 90+ mph through it all, dodging cars like they were asteroids in a video game.
The Swedish Girl and I would sometimes look at each other as we passed the other, sometimes smiling, sometimes smirking. It was like a really, really bizarre type of flirting:
It was also one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done in a car. And I’m not proud of it now. I coulda killed someone. But hey, at the time, it was just Saturday fun.
Fun, that is, until I finally came to my senses sometime after 285 but before Jimmy Carter Boulevard. There was a bottleneck in traffic, and The Swedish Girl and I had to pass a car. She broke right, while I broke left around the car. But I chose incorrectly: traffic in that lane had slowed considerably, with no way to switch lanes. I was boxed in and could only watch while The Swedish Girl sliced through traffic ahead. She was soon gone from my sight completely.
Which was fine, actually. I remember turning to Jamie, my heart pounding a hundred miles an hour, and saying something like “Oh my God! What did we just do? Man, if the cops had caught us I woulda been screwed. What the hell was I thinking?”
So that’s that. I saw The Swedish Girl turning into, or out of, my neighborhood from time to time, but that was all. If The Swedish Girl ever stumbles across these words, I genuinely hope you’ve had a wonderful life. Because, for a couple months in 1988 you were the coolest.