Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Confusion and Flusteration

I'm weighing gym membership options here in Lillehammer, and recently was given a tour of Elixia. This week I've I taken advantage of a week pass to try out a few of the classes. I was running late for a yoga class, a bit unsure where the class was held, and as always thinking of what I might say in Norwegian if someone were to ask. I was also noticing things in the gym that I hadn't noticed on my tour, like where the bathrooms were, and the line across the hall where one must remove their boots. 

As I left the women's locker room, I noticed a counter just outside the locker room where members can alphabetically file their workout cards. I remember thinking, "that's a handy spot! I don't remember that from the tour" as I mindlessly headed towards the door to the gym. But alas, the door to the gym was actually not the door to the gym: it was the door into the men's locker room. I think I turned around in mid-air, the door already closing behind me, and I'm reasonably convinced no one even saw me. The "door" to the gym was in fact a wide doorless doorway, and I have no idea how I failed to navigate that turn. 

But, on to the task at hand: find the yoga class. A bit flustered from my near-encounter with male flesh, I hurry through the gym to the room where I believed the class to be. But alas again, no class in the yoga room. I stumble through a jibbery Norwegian/English sentence with a staff member in the classroom, and increasingly flustered, turn around to hurry back through the gym to the other room for large classes. But--boom! A woman is blocking my way, sweaty in workout clothes, hair in a pony-tail, and she asks me, in Norwegian, "What sports did you do in the US?" 

What sports did I do???  What kind of greeting is that?

The following thoughts simultaneously race through my head:

  • Who the heck is this woman? Do I know her? Is she a mother at the barnehage? Is she in my norskkurs? Does she work with Erik? 
  • T o r t u o u s l y   t r a n s l a t e   w h a t   s h e   i s   a s k i n g   m e .  .  .  .  
  • How does she know I'm from the US? She's asking about sports in the US? Does she remember me from track in the US? That's impossible. . . 
  • How do I say "track" in Norwegian. . . I know this one. . . running. . . løpe. . .  hurdles. . . 
  • And where the heck is my yoga class?  I'm really going to be late!
It hit me about 2 minutes later that she was, in fact,  Elizabeth, a Lithuanian woman from my Norwegian class. At least I had the weekend ahead of me to compose my apology to her, and look up a few words in my dictionary, like confused, (didn't) recognize, and men's locker room. 


  1. And the yoga class was well worth it!

  2. Action at the gym! Good thing she actually knew you and didn't just guess that you were American by the looks of your shoes (usually a dead giveaway).

  3. I have soooooo many moments like these!

  4. This reminded me of when I joined my first gym in Norway. I'm certainly no prude, but it did take a couple days to become accustomed to a room full of completely naked women, applying deodorant -- leisurely, and carrying on conversations with their locker neighbors as if they had just run into each other outside the grocery. So, so, so... you seem to have omitted some colorful details from this story... ;-)

  5. Oh, no, Angela.
    I was in a hurry, so I raced in and out, not stopping to shower. Gross, I know. Did that at home, later.

  6. Hahaha! That's hilarious! You're a great writer - very vivid and colourfully expressed. Learn norwegian fast so you can be a writer in my newspaper :) Greetings from Kine and the rest of the long gone family in the north :)

  7. Hi! I had a year-long membership to Elixia in Oslo, and I didn't like it much. It was a very cold, odd place with bad music and...NO ONE broke a sweat. Seriously, there were people on their stationary bikes gabbing on their cell phones. I looked like some sort of asthmatic, tomato-faced, blotchy, sweaty, no-makeup weirdo. I hope the Elixia in Lillehammer is a better place to be and a more comfortable workout zone for you, wrong turns notwithstanding. ;)

    Lykke til!