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The Tale of Fair Gudrun

By Tage Danielsson. He had them pegged half a century ago.


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Once upon a time there was a girl who never found true love and therefore wanted a divorce.

That's the way it was with Gudrun, for her name was Gudrun, and she thought everything was unfair. She'd married an engineer from EPA she met in Tempo where she stood selling plastic cookery. They didn't have any children and both of them worked. Gudrun complained daily about all the injustices brought on her by her marriage. She had to buy dinner and cook it, she had to sew buttons into her husband's jacket, she had to make the coffee whilst he watched TV, all of this she had to do, even though her job was just as strenuous as his. And one can understand this seemed unfair. That her husband fixed the fuses, washed the car, shopped at Systembolaget - that wasn't something she thought about much.

So the divorce was easy to obtain, for neither of them liked living together anyway. Gudrun decided calmly and resolutely that if she ever married again then dammit things would be fair.

One day when she was standing at her counter in Tempo a man with a favourable appearance approached to buy a plastic bidet. He looked so shy and embarrassed when he took up the bidet that Gudrun fell for him. And when he returned the following day and bought something as unnecessary as a plastic holder for two toothbrushes, Gudrun understood the symbolic meaning of the purchase and showed him the sentiments were mutual.

Gudrun and Albin, for his name was Albin, met quite often in the evenings for a while, and both thought it would be divine to marry. But Gudrun made sure Albin understood that in such case, everything would have to be done fairly. And Albin readily agreed because he was a good natured man.

So after a while Gudrun and Albin stood before the mayor and said 'I do' at the same time, for Gudrun decided it'd be unfair if the one of them were to say 'I do' before the other. And Albin held a bouquet of flowers identical with Gudrun's.

When they returned to their three room flat that Gudrun still had from her earlier marriage, Gudrun showed Albin a long list she'd written up.

There amongst other things was written:

'Ironing 1 shirt corresponds to making 2 beds;
making TV coffee corresponds to the washing up after dinner for 2 persons;
sewing in 1 button corresponds to fixing one broken electrical jack;
breast feeding of (when applicable) children corresponds to washing of 2 dirty plastic diapers;
snoring so spouse is roused from sleep corresponds to the right to first read the paper the following day;
purchase of dinner corresponds to hoovering the parlour and hall;
hemming 1 bed sheet corresponds to taking out trash to trash chute;
washing 1 pair of socks corresponds to emptying all ash trays in the flat.'

That and a lot more was on Gudrun's long list.

'Now we're going to abide by this list, Albin', said Gudrun, 'so that everything is fair, that's the alpha and omega of marriage.'

'It's going to be fine, for the important thing is we love each other', said Albin, and then he didn't say a word, because he didn't want to speak longer than Gudrun had.

And Gudrun and Albin lived together a long time, ate two potatoes each at dinner, each drank four centilitres cognac with their coffee on Saturday evenings, and made love with each other as fairly as possible in the dark of the night.

One day Gudrun said:

'Albin, I think I want children.'

'Then I want children too', said Albin out of pure habit.

But as you understand it was Gudrun alone who had children.

Now it was an awful difficulty to get everything done fairly. That Albin washed diapers whilst Gudrun breast fed was no huge problem, but there were so many other things to do all day long that Albin had to take time off from work - and that wasn't more than right, for Gudrun had to do the same thing. When the children cried at night, the parents woke and looked at their schedule which was tacked to the wall above the bed. Albin had the night shift on odd dates between two and six, Gudrun had it on even dates. With months with 31 days they split up the final night so Albin took the shift between two and four and Gudrun took four to six every other occasion; on the others they switched.

So thanks to Albin's great kindness and good nature, they managed most things without friction, and the wee baby grew and began to talk. The baby turned out to be a wise and fair child, for its first word was 'mappa' and its second was 'pamma'.

One day Albin said:

'It'd be really nice for this wee child to have a sibling to play with.'

'Don't look at me!' replied Gudrun. 'Now it's your turn!' Albin couldn't take it anymore, and he didn't know how he'd manage his turn anyway.

So Gudrun's back at Tempo selling plastic cookery, waiting for a real man who understands how everything has to be done fairly.


 - Tage Danielsson, Sagor för barn över 18 år, W&W 1964

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