Why the National Animal of Sweden should be a 1981 Saab 900 Station Wagon

Published on 19th April 2018

    So I've officially been living in Sweden for 2 weeks now, and I think it's high time I've made a few changes around here. I'll give you some credit Sweden. You've done a pretty good job up until now with your functional health care system, low rate of crime, and a Scandinavian standard of living that enables both cheap cheese AND towel warmers, but no country exists without room for improvement! This is why I will selflessly take it upon myself to meticulously edit you, Sweden, for the betterment of your country and its people.

     Granted, being the editor of an entire nation won't be easy. For one thing, I'm the first of my kind, having just invented the profession a couple of seconds ago. However, I have also just invented the job requirement, which it turns out, I am exceptionally well-suited for. This will be the fourth country in which I have lived, on the third continent, after 13 years in Canada, 20 in America, and a very bizarre 365-day stint in China, which gives me the experience and perspective necessary to mercilessly criticize your nation after living here for less than a month. Don't worry. I won't expect a formal government position just yet, but an official office would greatly improve my productivity and dedication to my new Nordic home (wink wink).

     So let's begin with some low-hanging fruit. Sweden, we need to talk about your national animal, because such a sensible nation as yourself should, under no circumstances, have a national animal as confusing as the Swedish Elk.

I present to you, the Swedish Elk.

     That faint sound you heard in the distance was 10,000 Canadians simultaneously spitting out their Tim Horton's coffee. This is because your elk is not an elk. Your elk is a moose. I'm not sure if this is a simple mistranslation or the consequences of some sort of Swedish mass hysteria, but your national animal is... wrong. 

I present to you the national animal of Ecuador, THE WOLF!

     Granted, it isn't difficult to discern where all this confusion began. In British English, a moose is an elk, and an elk is a wapiti (seriously?). On top of that, the Swedish word for moose is "Älg", which is much closer to elk than moose. But as a humble Canadian, I would like to offer a few counter-points. First, Britain doesn't have any moose, nor elk, nor wapiti, so I would hardly expect them to be the authority on the subject. Just Britain once again attempting to force their authority over the English language, just because they invented it. Secondly, after the whole Brexit vote, I would think your relationship with the small island-nation to be tenuous at best. So please, let's leave the moose-facts to the experts, shall we?

"Guys, I don't want to jump to conclusions here, but I think moose might be racist."

      So now that we can all agree on dropping this silly "Moose vs. Elk" debate, let's get on to the more important business; picking your new national animal! We must do this fast, as a country lacking an official national animal is at great risk of a mass cultural existential crisis leading to riots and strange Eurovision song contestants. But don't you worry Sweden. I have just the animal to replace your fictional moose/elk hybrid national delusion; the 1981 Saab 900 Station Wagon.

Just think of how many effortlessly attractive Swedes you could fit in there!

     Now I know what your thinking. "But Rory, the 1981 Saab 900 Station Wagon lacks certain prerequisites required to be deemed an animal, like mitochondria or an undying will to survive!" And to this I agree with you, but you have to understand that the 1981 Saab 900 Station Wagon is too perfect a national symbol to the ingenuity and practical nature of the Swedish people to be deemed anything less than your permanent national animal.

     Take the Swedish national obsession with the concept of "lagom". To all the non-Swedes out there, "lagom" is the Swedish word meaning "just enough," as in "Goldilocks enjoys her porridge lagom hot, her chairs lagom big, and her beds lagom soft." The Swedes take the concept of lagom to such an unusual extent as to create an almost toxic-humility, where they must also be lagom successful, live in a house of lagom size, and have a lagom amount of children, which usually amounts to none. In comparison, the United States tossed the idea of lagom into the trash before the word even attempted to insert itself into the national consciousness. Sweden's "just enough" is to America's "never enough" is to Canada's "Go pick up a 2-4 from the LC. We're out!" 

     The 1981 Saab 900 Station Wagon is lagom manifest. 

Lagom size.
Lagom style.
Lagom comfort.
Lagom.

     Also, the 1981 Saab 900 Station Wagon is incredibly sensibly Swedish. For one thing, you can fit an average of 7.83 Swedes in a 1981 Saab 900 Station Wagon, or 6.94 Americans! The safety standards were unusually high for the time, and your future national animal had an engine of lagom power that could go from 0-100km/h in 14 lagom seconds. Lagom!

     Also, like most things in Sweden, the closer you look, the weirder things get. For one, the engine was backwards, with the power coming out of the front of it, where the headlights are. The crankshaft had to pull a 180 degree turn to get to the back tires because... reasons.

     But there's also the darker side of why this automobile might just be the perfect symbol of Swedish culture and it's place in the world. For most foreigners of this strange Scandinavian land, Saab stands for "An expensive car that doesn't look expensive, but I have a family now, so I need room for at least 2 child safety seats," but to Swedes, Saab stands for something else entirely. That curved windshield of the Saab 900 which allows for unparalleled road-visibility actually comes from a long lineage of Swedish aerial murder machines still alive and well today. Yes, alongside Saab's dedication to sensible family sedans, also come divisions dedicated to ultra-violence, that makes things like...

Lagom... submarine?
That isn't lagom missiles at all!
This shoulder-mounted anti-tank weapon weighs less than 7kg, so I guess it's kind of lagom?
     Much like Saab is an international arms dealer masquerading as a mild-mannered car company focused on cornering the "family man who has given up his dreams" market, Sweden is an even bigger international arms dealer masquerading as a Scandinavian Socialist paradise. This is actually the continuation of a long-standing tradition, dating all the way back to WWII, or as the Swedes call it "Our get-rich-quick scheme!" Yes, while Germany went Fascist and Russia went Communist, Sweden went hard Capitalist, selling arms to both Allied and Axis powers during the 6 year conflict. 

     Now some of you might look at this practice as being somehow immoral, to sell arms to both sides during an armed conflict that will decide the fate of the world, but in Sweden's defense, they are really, really good at it. So good, in fact, that even today you will find Swedish guns firing at Swedish planes in countries that are definitely not Sweden.

    So let's all agree to drop this elk debate that is dividing Swedes from Malmö to Jokkmokk, tearing apart the very fabric of Swedish culture, and change your national animal to the only sensible choice, the 1981 Saab 900 Station Wagon. I will expect a vote in your Parliament (or Congress, or Council or whatever you have) by Monday. 

    This little edit's on the house.