But it’s Cold! – Malmo, Sweden
In November Ryan & I went to a software developers’ conference in Malmo, Sweden. (Just across the water from Copenhagen, Denmark … which explains how we ended up with a bunch of Danish Kronar instead of Swedish Kronar …) We didn’t actually do much in Malmo, even though we were there for a week. The conference lasted all day, including lots of evening events. The conference itself was really good – I always leave a good software conference feeling inspired.
We did wander around some in the evenings though. The only pictures we have of Malmo with light are from the mornings. The sun set every day before 4pm, so we got to see first hand how much the sunlight (or lack thereof) affected us. We found ourselves sitting down for dinner at 5pm. We’d go out for one drink (at $12/beer, we couldn’t afford any more than that!) and then find ourselves back in our hotel room by 8pm staring at the wall. It was so odd.
The evening event on the very first night was a Swedish experience … Swedish beer, Swedish fish (on toast, not the candy), a lovely Swedish meal… and a naked trip from a steamy sauna into the freezing cold Baltic Sea. Yeah. Seriously. There’s nothing like starting a professional conference with a little nudity, right?
The opportunity to have this experience was too unique to pass up … but I will say that we reserved the right to back out at any moment. Ryan and I showed up and the only other two women in the room of men quickly found my sides. At least I wasn’t alone … They ‘warmed us up’ with some swedish beer, and we stood around making conversation and trying to imagine how this whole thing was going to work. As it turns out, there were separate sides for men and women (thank goodness!!). So, when the time came, the two Swedish women took me off to the ladies side, and I wished Ryan luck in the sea of men. We walked into the locker room, and I played follow the leader. One of the women was clearly familiar with the concept … so, when she took her clothes off, I took my clothes off. I busied myself making a nice pile of clothes … and then grabbed my towel to follow the leader out of the room. We passed a shower room full of soapy naked Swedish ladies (seriously.) We hung up our towels outside of the sauna, and then doubled back towards the locker room … At this point I decided I wasn’t going to be able to fake it. “Ok, you’re just going to have to tell me what we’re doing now. I thought we go into the sauna…” Apparently we shower before the sauna. *shrug*. ok. So I went into the shower, picked a shower head … and got wet. Next stop was into the sauna. There were three rows of ‘bleachers’ in the Sauna. Watching the pros … I figured out that the tiny towel I was given was for me to sit on. Makes sense … keeps the naked bum off the bleachers. So, there we were … three naked ladies … sitting in the sauna … chatting like it was happy hour. Actually … it wasn’t that weird. We talked about our jobs, and our husbands, and how many women we worked with. We sat in front of a wood stove that was giving off really dry hot heat. There were only a few other women in our sauna – presumably the regulars. So it was pretty relaxed…. right up until it came time to cool off. We tiptoed outside into the cold, climbed down a cold metal ladder, and went all the way into the sea. It was crazy. and cold. and awesome. By that time you’re so warm that it doesn’t feel so bad … and you head right back into the sauna to defrost your toes. We went back & forth between the sauna & the sea several times, and then finally showered (naked soapy swedish ladies again) and got dressed to rejoin the men.
Meanwhile on the men’s side …
Remember how I said there were only 3 women and a sea of men? Imagine how Ryan felt in a sea of naked men. Yeah. There was a dry sauna, a wet sauna, and a coed sauna to choose from … and the men packed all three. There was no ideal place to sit on the bleachers. On the bottom row one’s face was eye-level with every man’s um … well, you can figure it out. On the second row, if one should instinctively turn his head towards the voice of a man he was conversing with … one would find himself intimately engaged with the man behind him on either side. Not to mention what happened when someone wanted to climb past you to reach the top row. Apparently the only acceptable strategy was to look straight ahead & speak to the opposite wall. Except of course for the overly comfortable Swede who leaned against the door naked and free leading conversation and making friends. :)
Apparently there were a number of men who found themselves talking together at the conference later in the week, and all they could think was “I’ve seen you naked.”
My personal favorite was Ryan’s report of what happened when the men talked about what it would be like to be married to another nerd. Ryan piped up and said “I’m married to a software engineer … she’s over on the women’s side. We just fight over the computer and nothing gets done. ” ;-)