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Even the True Queen of Denmark

October 2, 2019
Faroe Islands Hike Hvíthamar

Faroe Islands Hike – Hvíthamar

I usually go for the seat in the middle of an airplane row. That means if I’m alone, I can sit pretty much anywhere on the plane. Or if I’m with Cake Man, he gets a people buffer.

One thing let to another on our flight from the Faroe Islands to Copenhagen, and Cake Man ended up in the middle seat next to a young Faroese woman wearing a perfect fuzzy white sweater. The woman looked very uncomfortable, and she was instantly chatty. I assumed she was afraid of flying. I could tell this was going to be one of those plane flights with a conversation that stretched from departure to arrival. Quietly, I tried to let Cake Man know we could switch seats before the plane took off, and I could sit next to her. But he is Cake Man, King of Chill, and he needs no assistance.

Faroe Islands Hike Hvíthamar Looking Back (Those White Things Are Cars)

Faroe Islands Hike – Hvíthamar Looking Back (Those White Things Are Cars)

The beautiful sweater being worn on the hottest week of the Faroese year actually was meant to remind our seatmate of home. She was headed to another part of Europe to begin her post-university life. Her plans were wonderful — the kind anyone would hope for.

We learned a lot on that flight, including that as the oldest descendant of a line that lost a battle with someone about a thousand years ago, our seatmate was the True Queen of Denmark.

I don’t begrudge anyone such a possibility. A very good friend claims to be related to basically every monarch mentioned in the Tower of London’s display of the Crown Jewels. Also, our seatmate was a great conversationalist who spoke several languages and had an impressive knowledge of world affairs and history. I could see how she might be the True Queen of Denmark by some reckoning. It wasn’t like she was asking me to give her a twenty for two tens.

She claimed not to be nervous about flying either. She seemed to know all the staff on the plane and several of the passengers. I felt like we were sitting next to a celebrity who was really big on a new social media platform that had not yet arrived in the United States. But I was worried for her and the way she kept pressing one hand into the seat in front of her and trying to strangle the armrest with the other hand.

Faroe Islands Hike Miðvágur Bøsdalafossur

Faroe Islands Hike – Miðvágur Bøsdalafossur

So we kept chatting with her, and we learned about:

  • the Faroese foster care system and which one of her parents’s behavior landed her in it
  • how up until the time of the True Queen’s grandmother, pirates (particularly French ones) were encouraged by Faroese husbands to have sex with their wives so as to diversify the gene pool
  • the acceptability of an all-cooked-meat art project in the shape of a baby
  • the enduring love of foster parents who eat said meat baby with you after your art project has been graded and found to be of the highest caliber

I wanted to hear everything the True Queen had to say. She was so interesting. But I needed to use the restroom at the back of the plane. Cake Man seemed to be having a good time chatting, and he appeared cognizant of the importance of being a good complete stranger to someone who obviously was nervous about flying even if they didn’t know it.

I returned four minutes later. The look on Cake Man’s face suggested I had missed something big.

Nix Statue, Faroe Islands, Near the Airport

Nix Statue, Faroe Islands, Near the Airport

The True Queen let me know what it was — a description of her menstrual cramps. She’d been having terrible ones ever since she went on The Pill. The cramps were particularly bad today, and the concerned observer might easily mistake her pained expression for fear of flying. To Cake Man’s unending credit, he had already offered her my Alleve. She wanted to tough it out though. Menstrual cramps might be bad, she said, but getting pregnant would be so much worse at this point in her life.

The True Queen of Denmark was unforgettable. She isn’t in the process of claiming her title, but it’s clear she’s going to do amazing things.

For me and Cake Man, the jury is still out on who sits in the middle seat during the next plane flight.

In a series of related notes:

  • A podcast of Connie Willis’s award-winning “Even the Queen” (a science fiction short story about menstrual cycle politics) can be found here.
  • A free, 60-page guide to hiking the Faroe Islands is here.
  • More about the Nix Statue is here.
Funningsfjørður, Faroe Islands, in August at 10pm

Funningsfjørður, Faroe Islands, in August at 10pm

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