A memory: Eric, one of the kids from mellanstadiet when I was ten or eleven. Him and another boy were taught a tap dancing routine by our gay counter-tenor music teacher Rune, performing it woodenly in the lecture hall for the entire school. They wore striped vests and straw hats, their faces expressing a mixture of concentration and a dawning realisation that perhaps they were making absolute fools of themselves. Steppens söner, “Sons of the Steppe/Tap Dance”. But us in the audience didn’t know enough to realise how naff it all was.
Anyway, Eric was a pretty boy with an elfin face, and so I wasn’t too offended once when he called after me, “Hey Rundkvist, you’re so fucking… feminine!”. I’m not sure he knew what it meant. I did, but I didn’t think it carried much clout as insults went. I knew I was neither more nor less girly than the other kids. And I certainly wasn’t a Son of the Steppe.