Monday, October 15, 2007

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

I suppose I need to explain my week long absence from this place. So, let me begin at the beginning.

Last Thursday (10/4) I got a very polite email from a Dr. Hejskulle Dublåsa-Jag who identified himself as being the official representative of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, informing me that I had, in fact, been nominated by Berit Brørby, President of the Norwegian Odelsting for the Nobel Peace Prize for "actions relating to the better understanding amongst peoples."

My first thought was, "Well, it's about time."

Dr. Dublåsa-Jag further informed me that I was, in fact, the leading contender for the prize and, barring any surprise, I would win the prestigious award. He left his number and told me to give him a call as soon as possible as there were "many things to work out."

I called him back and introduced myself to him. He was very polite and told me that the balloting was nearly over and that I was well ahead of the next leading contender. I told him I was very excited about it and was looking forward to receiving the award. He told me that this was a very prestigious honor and that "even Mother Theresa" was flustered when he called her.

I asked him if there was any protocol that I needed to follow at this point, and he said no, except that I should get together the money for the "honorarium."

When I asked him what that was, he responded that there was no real equivalent word in English, but it could be thought of as a pay in to the Foundation in order to ensure that future awards could be made. Essentially, the interest earned on the honorariums earn enough interest for the recipients in 50 years. The money is invested in high risk securities for 6 months, or until the ceremony, and is then returned to the awardee. The typical payment is around $500,000.

I told him that I couldn't afford that amount.

He paused for a moment before asking if there was any way to get the money, as it is one of the oldest traditions of the award, dating back to Alfred Nobel himself.

I told him that there was no way that I could come up with that kind of money in such a short period of time.

Dr. Dublåsa-Jag remained adamant saying that if I couldn't come up with the money, I would have to forfeit the prize.

Now, my mother told me two things growing up: (1) wear clean underwear in case you get hit by a car and (2) never turn down the Nobel Prize. I asked if the Norwegian Nobel Committee would accept a lower amount.

He told me that they did make an exception for Jimmy Carter, who was allowed to come up with a $100,000 deposit and that he would look into it.

Several hours later, he emailed me back saying that the Committee would accept the $100,000 honorarium and that they needed the money by Wednesday the 10th at the very latest. Wiring instructions were provided for my convenience.

I went around to all my bank accounts, drew down my IRA, cleaned out my retirement fund, and pawned several valuable heirlooms to raise the cash. At the last minute, however, I realized that if I wired the money to him, I wouldn't retain my Internet Anonymity. Same deal if I had sent a check.

So, I came up with a brilliant solution: I would fly to Norway and personally hand him the cash, thereby paying the fee, retaining my anonymity and getting a jolly trip to Scandinavia out of it. I packed my ski mask (because it was sure to be cold) and my gun (stowed, not carried on) in order to protect me from would be thieves.

Flights to Norway direct from Pittsburgh are few and far between, but early Monday morning, I hopped on a plan from Pittsburgh to Detroit to New York to London to Brussels to Copenhagen back to London to Trondheim International Airport. When I arrived, it was late Tuesday night... possibly the week before I left.

Anyway, I looked up the address for the Nobel Committee in Trondheim at the corner of Holstveita and St Olavs Gate. Turns out there was nothing there, just a guy who claimed repeatedly that he didn't know anything. (I later found out that he was lying.) I asked around and it turns out that the Nobel Prize is given out in Sweden, not Norway.

So, I rushed backed to the airport, got on a tiny prop plane, flew into Stockholm and rushed into the main offices of the Nobel Committee. I couldn't help but notice, by the way, the number of particle board chairs and tables in the lobby.

Anyway, the lovely Valkyrie sized receptionist politely told me, as she surreptitiously fingered the alarm button, that the Nobel *Peace* Prize was actually given out in Norway. So back on the plane I went to Oslo, briefcase of cash in tow.

To make a long story short [Too late] Hejskulle Dublåsa-Jag is Swedish for "Heywood Jablome".

And so, yours truly ended up being interrogated by Homeland Security for the last four days after trying to board a plane with a ski mask, a briefcase full of cash, and a gun.

To top it all off, they gave the friggin' award to Al Gore... and all because I couldn't get my honorarium to the Norwegian Nobel Committee in time.

To top off the top off, I still reek of lutefisk.


spork_incident said...

That sucks.

But I'd like to hear more about the Valkyrie-like receptionist.


Sherry said...

ick, norwegian food!

Sooska said...

Have you taken this outrageous story to the press? Maybe Torsten Ove of the PG will look into the (how do you say "hanging chads" in Norwegian? "Lutefiske," perhaps?) I think Torsten covered the Nigerian puppy scam and the Coke-Pepsi fracas so I am sure he'd be on top of this one!