Bobbie's Beat: The Norwegian invasion

There is just something about the number 3 that pushes my alleged brain into subject matter for this column, so here goes:

  1. While foraging through the back of a closet for my stash of Christmas sweaters, I found an old favorite that is still in good shape. On the front in big letters are the words “Lutefisk: The piece of cod that passes all understanding.” No need to explain lutefisk because you can look it up on the internet or just ask a Scandinavian.
  2. Last Sunday afternoon, I participated in the Author’s Fair at the Newport Library.  All around the room were 21 other writers with their books. This event was well attended, and I had a great time greeting folks who dropped by. One lady who stopped at our table said, “I just love your column, especially when you do jokes.” (I made a mental note to include more jokes).
  3. After the Author’s Fair, I went with my neighbor, Janet Anton, to the home of friends for a small, informal holiday gathering. Christmas is in the air, and we were all knocked out by the Super Moon rising into the sky. 

While sitting around the fire, the conversation suddenly turned Norwegian. I’m not naming names, but the host was (still is) Norwegian, and one of the female guests was Norwegian (and still is). All you need for sprightly conversation is more than one Scandinavian in the same room.

They started bantering back and forth about lutefisk (most people hate it), lefse (how it should be made), and several other oddities. I turned to the person sitting next to me and asked, “Are you feeling left out?”  She was still laughing over the description of lutefisk and replied, “Heavens no. My people are from Wales and they aren’t this funny.”  

Being Swedish, I kept quiet for a change but did offer the fact we had a few Norwegian relatives who married into our family. There has always been rivalry between Swedes and Norwegians, and I can still hear my Uncle Paul (born in Norway), who loved spouting “Ten thousand Swedes ran through the weeds chased by one Norwegian.” Uncle Paul would do this in the middle of a conversation no matter what the subject. None of the adults in the room found this particularly funny, but my brothers and I thought it was hilarious.

And now, for the lady at the library who loves jokes, it seems appropriate to throw in a few. You don’t have to be Scandinavian to catch the humor:

•     •     •

Ole wore both of his winter jackets when he painted his house last July. The directions on the can said,
“Put on two coats.”


Ole’s neighbor, Sven, had a boy who came home from school one day and asked, “Papa, I have the biggest feet in the third grade. Is that because I’m Norwegian?”

“No son,” said his papa. It’s because you’re 18.”


The judge had just awarded a divorce to Lena, who had charged non-support. He said to Ole, “I have decided to give your wife $800 a month for support.”

“Well, that’s fine Judge,” said Ole. And vunce in awhile I’ll try to chip in a few bucks myself.”


Ole and Lena got married. On their honeymoon trip they were nearing Minneapolis when Ole put his hand on Lena’s knee. Giggling, Lena said, “Ole, you can go a little further if you vant to. So he drove to Duluth.”


In the middle of the show, Ole stands up and yells at the ventriloquist, “Hey, you’ve been making too many jokes about Norwegians. Knock it off, you bum." The ventriloquist replies, “Take it easy, they’re only jokes.” Ole replied, “You idiot. I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to that little guy sitting on your knee.”

•     •     •

I just found another sweatshirt (size XL) that needs a good home: it’s free to the first person who contacts me. My husband, Burt, bought it at a Scandinavian Festival and wore it only one time. It says: “Pray for me. I’m married to a Swede.” Any takers?


Bobbie Lippman is a professional writer who lives in Seal Rock. She is the author of “Good Grief: A Collection of Stories As One Woman Journeys From Heartbreak To Healing Through Honesty and Humor” (Dancing Moon Press). The book (with all proceeds going to Rotary International) is available at JC Market in Newport and directly from Bobbie, who can be contacted at [email protected]

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