When Robert and I were out for a drink at our local pub the other night, we were suddenly greeted and hugged by David, the check-out guy at our grocery store. We were rather surprised. While we have seen David for years at our grocery and always said hello and sometimes even briefly chatted, we have never been hugged by him. (He is the long-haired tattoo guy who commented on the fact that I am always smiling.)
This was a classic case of alcohol. David had been drinking with friends and thanks to a few whiskeys, was feeling friendly enough to sit down and chat with us for a while. It was fun. Then when I saw him again at the store later in the week, we were back to being casual strangers who recognize each other, never mentioning the fact that we had both been at the pub on Friday night.
This same behavior happens at company parties as well. At the event, people who you just pass in the hallway suddenly drink too much and become your best friend. It is a lot of fun and you think that maybe you have finally broken beyond the Swedish reserve. But come Monday, you are back to being just acquaintances who nod at each other in the hallway. No one talks about who drank too much, who danced with who or even who left with who. In the US, everyone at work on Monday would be laughing about who did what and you would probably hang out with your drinking friend again, maybe for lunch that day. It is an interesting difference between us.