When I was in Sweden visiting Christina and her brother Lars a few years ago, they decided to treat me to a night out at the opera. They lived in a small hamlet by a beautiful lake about half an hour from Stockholm.
Christina phoned her ex-husband to see if he was free so we could make a foursome. Since he was available, the four of us started off a few hours later.It was mid-winter, so they decided not to drive as we would be returning late at night and the roads would be slippery. Or that’s what I thought.
We took the train, buying return tickets. They noted the timing of the last train of the night as we had to catch it in order not to have to book a hotel room in the capital.I noticed that Christina had a very large handbag, much too large for a night at the opera, which was considered a special occasion. Many women wore velvet dresses with fur coats or sophisticated designer suits with silk blouses and stunning capes. The men were in dark suits or tuxedos. Some even wore spats.
We arrived at the opera house and I was definitely impressed by the grandeur of the architecture and the general pre-opera buzz. When we got to the top of the grand staircase, Christina grabbed my arm and rushed me into the ladies room, still carrying her huge handbag. When we got inside, she rather discreetly took out a bottle of Champagne and showed me the special pockets where she had stowed four tulip-shaped glasses.
I wondered what we were doing in the ladies room and soon found out. Christina popped into one of the stalls, lifted the top from the toilet tank and placed the bottle of Champagne inside. I must have looked rather bewildered but soon found out it was her method of chilling the Champagne. She pointed out that it would be perfectly chilled by the time of the opera’s
Wine and spirits of any kind are extremely expensive in Sweden and in other Scandinavian countries because they are so heavily taxed.
Well, the opera began and I was suitably impressed. When intermission came, we all rushed out and Christina and I went into the ladies room. She retrieved her bottle of Champagne and out we went to join the gentlemen, each holding two tulip-shaped glasses in readiness for our opera treat.
When it was time to catch our train back,I was quite relieved that they had had the foresight to buy train tickets. In Sweden drivers are heavily fined for driving while under the influence.