Swedish Fiscal Three Way


Six months after our arrival in Sweden my wife and I decided to apply for a home loan.

As we made our way to our bank I wondered if they would float us a loan as only I was employed with a temporary contract.

Our first mortgage seeking experience started awkwardly when the bank informed us that one does not simply drop-in casually on a loan officer.

Rather one must arrange a meeting in advance. Of course, the meetings can only be scheduled by phone.
So we exit the bank and call from our mobile phone, made the appointment and then reentered the bank.

This was our first meeting with a loan officer but not our first exposure to svensk ordning (Swedish order).

The loan officer, Magnus Svenson (name changed to protect the typically Swedish), presents the quintessential image of a Swede under 30- tall, hip, blonde, well dressed and well groomed. 

He wears the kind of a beard that a young man grows to look more mature, the kind one shaves when one reaches that mature age in order not to look so mature and to keep oneself in the top 5 hottest guys list at your office.

Beards possess magical transformative powers.

At nineteen, I grew a similar beard while working through university at the local catering hall.
After growing the beard the management promoted me from waiter to Maître’D, then wedding DJ.

Yes wedding DJ.

During the Reagan 80s, things happened.

Steven Karwoski sporting his middle aged hipster beard

Steven Karwoski sporting his middle aged hipster beard

So we begin our meeting with my standard opener, “Can we take this in English?”

He agrees to English with the caveat  “ I’ll do my best but it’s better if I’ve had a few pints of beer in me.”

OK I can work with this guy.

Now I’m wondering if he wants to move the meeting to the pub. 

I sit cap in my hand like the peasant I am come to humble myself before the powers that be and ask for some money. Eyes to the ground, shoulders rolled downward I just hope Kajsa comprehends it all. I’ve never cared for any of this.

Steven Karwoski celebrates his birthday in a pub in Northern Sweden with Norway's greatest Pub band Pub to Pub.

Steven Karwoski celebrates his birthday in a pub in Northern Sweden with Norway’s greatest Pub band Pub to Pub.

I’m a fiscal bottom feeder, a teacher making a tiny wage. I wait for the embarrassing moment when he asks what I do for a living and how much I make. 

Christ this would have gone so much better at the pub. 

I’m great in a pub; a few beers in I’d have him understanding my rudimentary Swedish, joking, singing and planning a camping trip to Sarek National Park.

However, we spar in his arena, not mine, so I wait for the lions to be set upon me.

It comes – the Question – I answer.

He smiles and responds, “I think teaching is the most honorable profession.” in a slightly patronizing tone.

Ok, he’s a fan in non-committal way.

Then attempting to soften the blow, he acknowledges education’s poor salary scale by adding, “Yes, but our reward is in heaven right!”

Loosely translated: Beat it, your reward is in heaven, not at this bank. So don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

He then comments,  “My mother is a teacher.

Ok better…. you’d give your mom a loan right?

And adds, “I would have really wanted to be a teacher.”

Warmer if not hot.

Then he doubles back on me and asks,

“How much do you make?”

Christ you should know! – Nothing.

Oh I hope I don’t need to suffer the indignity of showing my paystub. This feels like the PE shower in high school yet with this situation I can feel no solace of potential growth due to a stimulus package.

Cap in hand, I look down at the floor.

“Ok” he says and then turrets to my wife, Kajsa.

“So what do you do for work Kajsa?”

“Ah fine furniture and interior design.”

“Are you working now?”

“Do you have any contacts?”

What is he a job coach?

So we run through our assets, which include my small retirement fund and a few stocks from Kajsa.

We give him the figure we think we might scrap together for a down payment. He taps away.

Then asks how much we want. We mutter the amount.

He taps away.

Then he turns, stroking his beard and says,

“ I want to say that I do want to begin a relationship
with you two.”

He had me at beer.

I try to imagine us all living together.

Would he babysit our daughter?

or at least pick up and drop off at school?

Does he cook?

Does he have any good DVD’s?

Or any vacation homes anywhere?

But seriously a relationship with us?

I’m really not into polyamorous relationships or threesomes.

As Rodney Dangerfield once said about the problem with group sex “ I never know who to thank afterwards.”

Also a threesome with a guy always seems like cowards way of getting close to a naked erect penis. If I wanted to be in a room with a guy with a hard on I’d cut out the middleman, or women long ago.

Of course we all have our man crushes.

I mean if Vince Vaughn asked me to be in a relationship I’d do it.


However, a group relationship for fiscal gain I’ve got some standards.

But this is Sweden so I try to keep myself open minded.

He then continues,  “If Kajsa were to find employment then I would be really interested, but right now, I’m just not ready”.

I’ve been here before.

The old ‘if your wife only had a job then I’d be into you’ line.

But wait you’re telling me in Sweden with my teachers salary I could swing a mortgage. 


I think this is going to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

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