Expats on Facebook often say that Luxembourg is boring, so I thought I would devise a game to help you kill some time this weekend. But first, we must go back to 1929, when Frigyes Karinthy hypothesised that you are never more than six steps away from anyone else. This sounds ridiculous if you are a very literal person, but of course Frigyes didn’t mean actual, literal steps. If we were talking actual steps, the theory would be subject to an almost endless number of extenuating factors – chief among which would be how long your legs are, and whether the person in question is also walking towards you. If you only count your own steps, you would be within 6 steps of anyone who is walking towards you so long as you are an exceptionally slow walker.
Frigyes’ theory is essentially that you are never more than six friendships away from any given person. This notion was popularised on the internet through the game “six degrees of Kevin Bacon,” wherein you try to find the shortest path from a given actor to the hilariously named star of, amongst other things, Footloose*.
I propose that a similar game could be devised specifically for Luxembourg – and given her current popularity, I suggest that we call it Two Degrees of Vicky Krieps. Since moving here, I have noted that it seems almost impossible to meet someone with whom you don’t share at least an acquaintance. So it seems entirely possible to me that anyone who has lived here for a while and made a few friends would be within two steps of Vicky Krieps, or even one of the Schlecks! For some weekend entertainment, why not write down the name of a few Luxembourgish celebrities and hope on the phone to your friends to see who could help you get in contact with them?
-> A word of warning. While the closeness of people living in Luxembourg has its advantages – it’s easier to get an out of hours appointment with the GP if they happen to be neighbours with a good friend, for instance, or get personal recommendations for a good housekeeper** – it’s not without downsides.
Anyone who has lived in a small town is familiar with a core aspect of small-town syndrome – the constant and silently gnawing sensation of being watched. It’s hard to blend into the background or carry out a secret mission*** when anyone and everyone you meet is likely to know who you are, if not directly then at least by extension – and boy does word travel quick once the chins get wagging. I suspect this is essentially true for the whole country of Luxembourg.
If you are of a somewhat more neurotic disposition, it may affect your behaviour to the very core. Nearly get rammed in the side at a parking lot and, in the spur of the moment, you give the driver a solid honk of the horn and ill-considered show of the middle finger? Bad luck – turns out it was your landlord’s neighbour, and you’ve just lost your security deposit. Gone to a pharmacy three towns over to buy some ointment for a fungal infection, in the hopes that no one would find out? Bad luck again – the customer behind you is not only the local gossip, but also goes to the same hairdresser as you. Unlikely? Yes, but entirely possible.
Moral of the story? Go to Trier if you need fungal cream, I guess.
*Apparently he also stars in TV-show called “I Love Dick,” but I decided to go with the classic footloose as (a) ILD seems a bit crass, and (b) I wanted Kevin Bacon to be the most absurd name in this paragraph.
**I have absolutely no experience with this, but couldn’t think of another example and so thought I would write the most Luxembourgish thing I could think of.
***This sounds nefarious, but could be something as innocent as sneaking a fag months after you’ve officially “quit” or having a cheeky bag of crisps while on a diet.