I believe in planning for the worst, hoping for the best, but expecting something closer to disaster than success. It sounds very depressing, I suppose, but I go through life pleasantly surprised most of the time. Mind you, I think it only works because I endeavor to do my best, no matter what the outcome I think will be. If I fail at something, I don't want it to be because I didn't try hard enough.
So knowing that I had a family function I planned for the worst: a full on assault on my non-Danishness. I thought up plans of attack and counter-attack and how to rebuff unwanted comments.
It's all about the preemptory strike.
So the first time someone spoke to me in Danish, I quickly responded, "I really don't understand any Danish other than a few nouns and some very boring verbs." Are you learning Danish? "Yes, but I'm only in my second week and the language school expects it to take up to three years to learn Danish." (That's sort of a lie, I have three years to learn Danish before they cut me off, but the language school did urge me to go everyday so that I can finish Danish before my three years are up. I took from that suggestion that they expect it to take me around about three years. Anyway, it's a great number and worked wonders.) Do you speak Danish at home? "No, my teacher advised us that for the sake of our marriages, we shouldn't turn our spouses into Danish teachers."
And that was pretty much the conversation I repeated with people for several hours. But it did work. I also avoided the people who are most likely to bring up my Danish. I only responded in English to questions in Danish.
I was also one of the few people NOT hit by the two year old nephew. He's a horrible child. No discipline. He hit his aunt and when she told him not to do that, he burst into tears and ran to his mom and told her that his aunt was being mean. Thankfully, the aunt told her sister (childs mum) what happened, but still he didn't get into trouble. He called me a foreigner and "lort." Nice kid. I told him in my best Danish that I was going to move into his room and stay with his mom and dad forever. The only Danish I spoke all day. He was horrified. NNNNEEEEEEJJJJJJ! he yelled. I walked away, smirking. I think I need to learn how to say, "you are a horrible child and someday someone is going to beat the crap out of you and I'm going to laugh."
We did have assigned seating. I got lucky and the guy across from me was a civil engineer who works with GIS so I could talk to him about remote sensing of multi-phase sites vs single-phase sites (archaeology speak, good fun).
I did get the question, "why the hell are you living in Denmark - you are from California!! You are crazy to leave!! Why!!??" a few times. I really need a nice response to this. The old, "I married a Dane" doesn't work on people who are smart enough to know that this means my husband could have gotten a green card. And I hate the twenty minute long explanation about how I'm working on my degree so I can't work and he could and he wanted to switch careers and so we wanted to stay where the education is free and the next thing you know the economy drops out, we are stuck with a beautiful, but overly large piece of property and while the health care here is crapy, it's free and I have access to it whereas in the US I can only go to my University health center which would mean living in Rhode Island which is not something I particularly want to do because there are no jobs blah blah blah.
Anyway, I didn't die. There were only two songs and they were after dinner before dessert, so I wasn't fainting with hunger. It was also all you can eat buffet and there was no pork, but lots of salads. So instead of drinking a lot to fill up my time, I ate a lot instead. Good times.
And we won't have to do it again for a while. Whew.