|A GIFT FROM THE NORWEGIANS.|
Tynan, of Cafe Manila fame, told us a joke this morning. San Geraldo “got it” right away. Very unusual. First, there’s the fact that Tynan grew up in the English Midlands and San Geraldo only understands about half of what he says (the other English staff at Cafe Manila, and I, understand the other half). Second, San Geraldo usually doesn’t “get” any jokes without some explanation from me, which means that by the time he does “get it,” the joke is no longer funny.
I will eventually get to the joke, but it was about a penguin and that made me think of San Geraldo’s Norwegian ancestors.
No one in San Geraldo’s family had ever been back to Norway since his mother Alice’s parents settled in the United States. Alice’s father met her mother on the boat to New York in the 1920s. She was from Bergen. Before our trip to Norway with Alice in 1998, San Geraldo had done a lot of research and managed to find every address that his great-grandmother Ingeborg had ever had in the city. Alice had a cousin who still lived in Bergen. They had never met. We learned that the cousin had children (our generation) who also lived in Bergen. San Geraldo’s second-cousin Inger and her husband Jan Olaf met us at our hotel our first day. It was love at first sight. San Geraldo had sent Inger all Ingeborg’s addresses and Inger and Jan Olaf took us for a walk around Bergen to show us all the houses.
|THE NORWEGIANS WITH ALICE AND SAN GERALDO, 1998.|
When we arrived at the final address, we came to a tall fence at the edge of a large park. Inger turned around and very dramatically (it’s genetic) said, “Jerry! I have terrible news! Ingeborg’s last house is now the “pingvindam!”
|INGEBORG’S HOUSE, TOP CENTER AT #2.|
We learned that “pingvindam” means “penguin pond.” In 1960, Ingeborg’s house — and the entire neighborhood — had been razed to create the Bergen Aquarium.
On our last magical night in Bergen, we had dinner at home with Inger, Jan Olaf, and their three amazing kids. Inger gave us “lovely parting gifts” and cards. Ours was a postcard from Bergen Aquarium. On the front was a photo of a Rockhopper Penguin (in Norwegian, klipphopparpingvin). On the back was a heart-warming note from Inger that ended with “And Jerry: Don’t forget where your ancients come from!”
|DISTANT COUSIN ANDERS KLIPPHOPPARPINGVIN.|
Back to Tynan
“One morning, a penguin walks into a shop and asks, ‘Do you have any prawns?’ “
The shop owner says, “No.”
“Next morning, the penguin returns to the shop and asks, ‘Do you have any prawns?'”
The owner says, “No.”
“Next morning, the penguin is again at the shop. He asks, ‘Do you have any prawns?’ “
The shop owner shouts, “No! And if you ask me that again, I’ll nail your flippers to the floor!”
“The following morning, the penguin walks through the door. ‘Do you have any nails?’ “
“Do you have any prawns?”