The Great Geat

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.

What kind?

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…

About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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7 Responses to The Great Geat

  1. The Sci-Fi Fanatic says:

    I’m thinking Jason just came up with a name for his Great Dane. It’s a sign from the heavens.

  2. Cheri says:

    Funny you would think about his dog’s name. That was the first question I asked him.

    What did you name your pup?



    Yeah…Ned is the first name of the most famous bush hunter in Australia.

  3. The Sci-Fi Fanatic says:

    hmmm, okay. : )

  4. andreaskluth says:

    Did your teacher venture a guess as to where the Geats lived and who they are today? (Ie, Swedes, perhaps?)

  5. Cheri says:

    Let me quote the professor verbatim:

    Beowulf was a Swedish hero who goes to help a Danish king. The poem was written by a Saxon in England. Beowulf was a PanGermanic hero.

    He indicated that the Geats were a group from Southern Sweden (on the lower west side).

  6. Mr. Crotchety says:

    I wish I could contribute something interesting about Beowulf. In lieu of a Christmas (sic) ‘pageant’ last year, I watched the fourth graders dress up and recite Beowulf. It was cute and gory at the same time.

    I called a bartender ‘baby’ a week ago. I couldn’t believe I said it. I must be getting old.

    • Cheri says:

      Depends if the bartender was a man or a woman.

      The only thing worse than 4th graders reciting Beowulf at the Lutheran Christmas pageant would be 6th graders reciting the Song of Roland.

      The part where Ganelon, Roland’s stepfather, has his limbs ripped out of his torso by four horses driving away in diagonals—yeah, 6th grade boys would love that part.

      Also, when did relevancy to the post become important to you?

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