by cheri block
The Nordic stars aligned yesterday in a series of random conversations that related to my current preoccupation with King Beowulf.
First, I ran into my very charming 40 year-old Australian neighbor, Jason, who was driving down the road. He stopped, and as is our custom, we engaged in a short intense conversation about what we are both doing.
What’s new with you, Jason?
I have a new puppy.
A Great Dane. You know, I wanted a dog that has a presence but also one that I can trust around my kids.
That’s ironic. I’m reading about a Great Dane—Beowulf.
Jason is a techie, so I spent the next five minutes summarizing the poem. Jason looked interested, so after adjusting my hat, I finished the summary.
It wasn’t until he drove off that I realized I had misspoken and thus, made a mental note to amend the record the next time we talked.
I am reading about a Great Geat, Beowulf, who helps a Great Dane, King Hrothgar, I thought.
I came home, showered, and headed to lunch with Joe before going to my office.
Joe and I ensconced ourselves in our usual booth in the bar.
Sammie (who Joe calls Baby) took our order.
Maybe it was thinking of Beowulf’s dragon, deep in his underground lair, that caused me to deviate from my usual order of tomato-basil bisque by instead selecting the mushroom bisque.
And while my thoughts were still underground, I asked Joe, Do you know what a tumulus is?
Did you say tumulo?
No, I said tumulus.
Listen baby, I don’t have the slightest goddamned idea what a tumulus is.
Well, I have been doing some research on Nordic heroes and old Denmark. I must admit my complete ignorance on all things Swedish and Danish. Until this research, the only thing Danish in my sphere is my friend Sam Rasmussen, an 84-year old pistol of a human being. Do you know Sam?
Joe didn’t know Sam and didn’t appear to care about this thread, so I snapped back to answer my original question.
Joe, a tumulus is a burial mound. These ancient burial mounds are all over Sweden. In fact, one tumulus in Sweden is thought to be the historical Beowulf’s.
Joe’s mind immediately scrolled back in time and I could tell a story was coming to fruition.
Interesting, Baby (not the waitress). Did I ever tell you the story of the time my grandfather Joe from the old country left me three tumulos? You see, a letter from Italy arrived in the mail…