I Have Rats on the Roof


I Have Rats on the Roof

The Danes are goofy people.

I didn’t know anything about Denmark before her, but now I am something of a Denmarkphile, if such a thing exists.

Our first date was at a restaurant, a Ruth’s Chris Steak House. The name Ruth's Chris Steak House confuses the hell out of me. Aside from the fact that saying “Ruth’s Chris Steak House” is nearly impossible (you have a TH, and an S, and a C, and an S, and another S, and a K, and another S… W… T… F), I also don’t know what exactly a “Chris Steak House” is supposed to be. Is Chris a name or an adjective? Was that Ruth’s idea? It’s a bad name for a business, but that’s neither here nor there.

My date’s name is Rikke, but don’t bother trying to pronounce it, whatever you are saying in your mind is wrong. The R in Danish doesn’t sound like the R in English or Spanish or basically any sound a normal human would want to make willingly.

“Imagine you have a potato in your mouth,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.

It didn’t help at all.

Because of her Danish accent she pronounces the S with a little bit of a lisp, so Squirrel becomes Shquirrel, Silly becomes Shilly, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House becomes a slobbering sentence that made us laugh for ten minutes. I liked her right away.

“Table for 2?” asked the waitress, and it made me smile.

Going to a restaurant alone sucks. When you go to a restaurant by yourself you can’t go to the restroom in peace because there's nobody there to tell the server you are still eating. There's always a 75% chance your food will be gone when you get back. I’m not saying that’s the only reason I like having her around but I would be lying if I said that wasn’t a big selling point.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House is a fancy establishment. On our way to our table, we walk past a large fish tank with some jellyfish inside and Rikke points out that the word in Danish for jelly fish is “vandmand,” which literally translates as waterman. I laugh at the idea that while in other languages they named those weird looking creatures “jellyfish” or “medusa,” in Denmark there was a dude who said “Nah that’s just a water guy!”

That’s one of the things I like about Danish people, they are simple people with simple needs. They don’t complicate things. A jellyfish is a “waterman,” a plane is a “flyingmachine,” and a bra is just a “breastholder”.

Throughout our dinner I couldn’t stop asking questions about her and her culture. I learned that the Danes have nine vowels but no word for “please,” which is… odd. She told me that the word for “liquid” can be confused with “flying” (which made liquid soap way more fun) and that when you go crazy they say that “you have rats on the roof.” It made sense, I have seen rats before.

She told me that when everything is perfect “you have it like a yolk in an egg” and I also learned that the word for island is not even a word, it’s just ø, which makes them sound way more isolated… but if you add an L you have øl, which means beer. I can dig that logic.

Hey, talking about beer, time to use the restroom!

As I stood up, she asked me, “are you done with your food?” and I just smiled.

It’s the little things.


**** This story was written for the NYC Flash Fiction Challenge, in which writers from all over the world are challenged to create short stories (1,000 words max.) based on genre, location, and object assignments in 48 hours. This was my first assignment: Comedy / Steakhouse / Liquid Soap. Wish me luck!!