When Ingmar Bergman died in 2007, it made me giggle. No, I’m not the heartless man I must seem right now, though when Osama died I’m pretty sure I giggled, but that wasn’t the same thing at all. Ingmar’s death brought to mind Ingmar, and my only memory of Ingmar outside the death chess game; my being schooled in the pronunciation complexities of Norwegian names.
My father and I were in Trondheim Norway, which at the time I pronounced near to its spelling... Trond'hime. (Since, I have learned it's Trone' yem and in case I forget I have an old neighbor that reminds me constantly with a really annoying judgmental giggle) We had made most of our trip without guides or tours, but there was a Trondheim visitor bus tour available that sported a handicap equipped vehicle so my wheelchair bound dad and I jumped aboard for a few kroner. During the run I happened to have seen a large statue, and could barely read the name on the placard below. "Oh, I see a statue of Ingmar Bergman!" (Ing'mar Berg' mun) I said as any easily excitable non Norwegian speaking tourist might.
An elder Norwegian on the bus who I now suspect was riding only hoping for an opportunity to use his inherent, codgerly crankiness on people who would not likely be his neighbors leapt to his feet and shouted a word I'd assume to be Norse for *&Y97y43; and then sneered "Why is it English speakers can never pronounce the poor man's name correctly! The greatest filmmaker in all the world! It's Bear' ya men! (with a slightly rolled r for effect; let's say a two tounging roll) Ing'a mar Bear' ya mun! Get it right! PLEASE!" Then with a look of desperation, as if a man whose wife was dying of starvation, who noticed I had the last slice of bread in the room and so felt it necessary to shame me into giving up my selfishness and general creepiness so as to allow him to be a hero and save his wife… he sat back down and mumbled to himself while turning his eyes away from what had so egregiously offended him; namely, me.
I'd never cared really, but still I was proud that I'd learned something important on my trip. "Tusen Takk" (thousand thanks) I said in gratitude. "I am properly chastised and will never make the same mistake again!" He snorted, loudly, powerfully, contemptuously. I felt a little sad that I'd obviously ruined his day, yet I cheered a bit when I noted that his snotty demonstration of anger had a literal component to its structure, as he’d deposited something on his jacket that needed a handkerchief to remove. It was a fair trade. He'd peed on my parade, then on himself. I love the Norse. They have such a sense of fairness.
Rest in peace Ingamar Bearyamun. I shall never again mispronounce your name. In fact, I’m guessin now that I’ve retold this story, I’ll never speak it, much less remember it once existed.