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Mimicking my friend Jen's response to all things peculiar, I let out a falsetto "Huh." "So what's with the walls, then?" I gestured to the smooth blond wood and Mexican-restaurant-colored tiles. Gudrun shrugged. "Okay, then, what about those disco balls?" I pointed to the five giant balls that spun and glittered above us.

"They have sometimes events here," Urs said. As if that explained everything. I was about to let the matter drop, but there was one more thing I needed to know. "Why is there all this plywood beneath us?"

Gudrun smiled. "Ah, so," she said, as if I'd finally touched on a subject that made sense to her. "That is because we are sitting on top of a pool."

I searched her face for any indication that this was some kind of German sarcasm. But she only smiled and gestured at the built-in lockers I hadn't noticed before, and the rectangular shape of the wood below.

I looked across the table at Urs and Gudrun, both of them sporting crooked, we-told-you-Swedes-were-strange smiles, to which all I could say was "Huh . "

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