Having been crapped on by a seagull on my way home from work, my afternoon was already off to a strange start. This was my third such mishap since I moved to Norway 21 months ago, and while that might not seem very extraordinary, I think those three times probably equal or exceed my lifetime tally prior to coming here.
Thankfully the bombing happened just three blocks from my apartment, so I didn't have to wait long for fresh clothes. I changed, grabbed a bite to eat, and set out for the gym.
On my way, I was walking up a set of stairs behind my apartment that led to an alley and soon thereafter to my tram stop. Halfway up, however, something caught my attention: A woman with orangish hair was standing at the edge of her yard, waving at me, laughing sheepishly, and saying something in Norwegian. Oh yeah, she was also awkwardly straddling a wrought iron fence.
This woman seemed to be in her seventh decade (at least), and her frail body couldn't have weighed more than 80 pounds.
“Is everything alright?” I asked as I approached her.
She continued talking in Norwegian.
I assumed that her pant leg had gotten snagged on the fence, but on closer inspection this was not the case. She was completely untethered.
As I was asking her if she needed a hand, her leg on the inside of the fence started to rise ever so slowly. Then she dragged it across the top and lowered it to the ground on the outside of the fence – still in slow motion.
At this point, I was starting to wonder what all the hoopla had been about.
As she planted her second foot on the ground, however, the problem became apparent. When she tried to stand up, she started falling backwards. Her fall was so leisurely, though, it looked like something out of The Matrix. She cried out for help, and I caught her. I stood her up, and after a moment or two, she was standing on her own.
“Are you OK?” I asked again.
And this time she responded in English.
“Yes,” she said, “thank you so much for saving me.”
“Are you British?” she continued.
“No – American,” I replied.
“Well, thank you again. I never expected to meet an American today!”
Then she went on to explain her situation. With eight hip surgeries under her belt, walking was difficult enough, much less hopping fences.
“Then why was she trying to jump the fence?” you ask.
Well, it turned out that the gate had become too stiff for her to operate after it had been repainted recently. She had complained to her landlord about the problem, but to no avail.
As we were discussing gates and hips, she stopped and looked at me.
“My, you are handsome,” she remarked.
The way she said it wasn't creepy, so I didn't get the feeling that she was a cougar or jaguar or whatever the term would be. (Perhaps a saber tooth tiger!) Instead, her comment had a grandmotherly ring to it. I half expected her to pinch my cheeks next.
“That's nice of you to say,” I replied.
I was ready to get moving again, but before I left, I offered to open the gate so she wouldn't be trapped outside when she returned from her errands. I turned the handle and pushed, and the gate popped open.
“My, you're strong too... and kind,” she fawned.
Now the creepiness meter was starting to rise.
Ignoring the compliments, I asked her one last time if she was OK, and she said she was fine.
Then, after a few more thank-yous and some good-byes, I turned and left.
Halfway down the alley, I turned around and she was still waving.
She was a bit over-eager for my tastes, but I guess making a new friend beats getting crapped on by a bird.