A few weeks ago, TJ and I attended an art event at the Världskulturmuseet (Museum of World Culture). As we stood there waiting for the naked performance artists to start crawling across the glass roof above us, a group of women positioned themselves next to us to get a good view. One motioned to TJ and started speaking to him (in Swedish). He did not understand what she said as much as he understood her gestures. She handed him her wine glass. He held it. From her purse, she produced a round tin and opened it. Inside the tin, were packets (portions) of snus.
Snus, for the uninitiated, is a moist powder that is chock full of nicotine; it is placed under the lip, similar to chewing tobacco. Snus is produced and consumed mainly in Sweden and Norway.
The woman placed a packet of snus under her bottom lip, thanked TJ, and reclaimed her wine glass. It was then that I noticed she did not have another container. One in which to catch the snus juice. Nor was the floor the type of floor that one might spit upon. We were indoors after all. Even the Museum of World Culture has its limits. It was then that it dawned on me. She would have to swallow the snus juice. TJ and I conferred about this...and shuddered.
I have memories of trying smokeless tobacco (dip or chew, as it was known) in college. This was back before portions were packaged. The brand was Skoal. Just loose, moist, finely shredded tobacco leaves. I distinctly remember the rule. Do not swallow the juice that formed in your mouth. The juice that started flowing immediately after the chew was placed between the lower lip and gum. The nicotine buzz would follow shortly thereafter. Trying to keep the mass of chew in place was half the battle. It wanted to move around in your mouth. Slide across your teeth, around the sides, to the back of your mouth and down your throat, if it could. Expelling the juice elegantly was the other challenge. Some were successful, some were not. Sure, there were some friends who could actually chew and drink beer at the same time. Now, that was talent. I was not so talented. Needless to say, I had my [limited] experience and checked it off the list.
Here in Sweden, everyone, not just the women, swallows. And they combine the feat whilst drinking. Talented? Maybe. But, I'm not as impressed as I used to be.