Radical Candor and Radical Comfort: The Road to Danish-ness

cyclists ride along a blue bike path in copenhagen, denmark
Cyclists in Copenhagen, photo by Tony Webster via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Andrew Richdale wants to feel at home in Denmark, but is he ready for the brutal (to an American) honesty? His first forays into communicating like a Dane, chronicled in a fun piece in Saveur, leave him nowhere to hide.

“Well, to be honest—”

“No!” Bo snaps. “That! That was not Danish. We do not say ‘To be honest’ in Denmark! What you just told me is ‘Oh, now I will begin being honest.’ To be Danish is to not be afraid of saying exactly what is happening at any moment, with elegance and wit.”

I ask Bo how to shake the feeling that I’m a self-conscious visitor passing through a foreign land—how to, instead, feel I belong.

“Do you ever Instagram certain obligatory places or dishes to prove you’ve properly ‘done’ somewhere? I know it’s bullshit but—”

“Andrew! What is this thing you have, this real you and this other you?” Bo asks. “The way you live—you are in danger.”

A bit embarrassed, I ask to be excused, to go to the bathroom “real quick.”

“You can also do it real slow!” he shouts as I walk away.

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