© 2023 Robert Sickles
My parents and I were the only Americans aboard a small guided tour bus, visiting the cities and countryside of Denmark. The other six tourists were: a very tall, dark-skinned black gentleman with a scar across his cheek. He spoke with a Jamaican accent and always dressed in a blue suit, starched shirt and necktie; a stout and jolly older English couple with Yorkshire accents—they had sort of a Hawaiian holiday wardrobe; and the most intriguing couple: a distinguished older man, well dressed and tanned, and his young girlfriend or wife, a glamorous redhead with a colorful wardrobe that emphasized her profound figure. Picture something like Antonio Banderas with the 1960's phenom, Charo. They were always cuddled close and spoke softly only to each other. Dark sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats often hid their faces. Honeymooners? Incognito lovers? Hollywood? Royalty? The Mob? Russians? The eight of us could have been a perfect cast of characters for a whodunit.
It was a short tour and a very organized schedule, so not much time for socializing. Everyone kept mostly to themselves, and all that my folks could do for six days was gossip and make up stories about all of them.
On our first night, the bus pulled into a very unique looking inn, an avant-garde building upon a large rural property. But the first thing I noticed was a sign at the gate reading "De Tre Ege” with a silhouette drawing of a tree. Also at the gate, a big metal chicken sculpture. “Hmm…”—and you can follow my line of thought—“The Tree Egg… weird name for an inn.”
The next morning, we were served a big breakfast of scrambled eggs. In my mind, it further tied the name of the inn to chickens, so I had to ask the host if they had a lot of chickens, adding “and do your chickens roost in the trees?”
He was not amused by my question, and replied “No, no chickens. What are you talking about? I’m really not in the mood for smartness, young man.”
“Sorry, no, I’m serious. The big metal chicken, and your sign with the tree on it that says ‘Tre Ege.’ What is a tree egg anyway?”
[Oh, all right, I know I had a smart-ass adolescent way. Linda just chimed in, "Oh, you still do, fella!"]
A little giggle arose among the guests. Wait, what did I say that was funny? The host’s wife leaned down and said softly, “Tre Ege is Danish for 'three oaks,' for the three big oak trees on our lawn.” She also told me that the metal chicken was created by a local artist and had no special meaning—they just liked the way it looked by the gate.
I looked out the window and pointed out that there were no oaks or any other trees. She said, “Well, they used to be there, before we cut them.” Nothing was making sense about this place! As they say, something was rotten in Denmark.
I received a short lecture on the advanced superiority of the Danish culture, and that rude Americans should know more about a country and its language before they traipse around and make fun of it with childish questions. I looked to Mom for support but she was reading a brochure, pretending not to know me. Our guide was busy lighting his pipe and said nothing in my defense.
Then the host just went ahead and said it—that I should be seen and not heard. Whoa, now them’s fightin’ words… and did I ever want to let him know what I thought of his Danish fascist superiority. Fortunately, we stayed just the one night and departed right after breakfast. I restrained myself from yelling out the window as we drove away, “You’re in the wrong line of work! You are terrible hosts with a stupid hotel name!”
I shook it off and took some ribbing in the bus about Tree Eggs. We went on to see many interesting and beautiful things around Denmark. It was fun to get back to imagining stories about the mysterious older man and his pretty lady companion.
At the end of the tour, that couple was dropped off first in an exclusive residential area of Copenhagen. Our bus pulled up to the front of a large elegant building on manicured grounds. A servant appeared to help with their luggage. Wow! Who were these people?
We all had to climb out of our bus to make way and to say our goodbyes. Suddenly, I felt very ill in my stomach and head. Did I eat some bad meatballs on that ferry boat? Or was it our guide’s burning-cat-hair pipe tobacco smoke? I let out a couple of moans and grunts, turned pale and urped up some of my lunch on the mystery lady’s flowery dress. She led me inside, where I immediately yacked up the rest on the foyer rug. I was so embarrassed, but the lady kindly assured me it was not a problem, no one was offended, and she’d have someone come clean up. I think it was the first time I even heard her voice.
I felt better after sitting a bit, looked around and realized I was in a very rich mansion. I said my thanks and apologies, and walked back to the bus. I turned to wave and noticed the brass plaque, “Embajada de Chile.” Our guide confirmed it was the residence for the Chilean Embassy in Denmark! Oh… so that’s who they were! I had just puked on the Ambassador’s wife, and his Persian carpet! ¡Ole, Bobby!
All in all, the little tour was enjoyable and memorable—but I certainly left my mark in Denmark!