Imagine that you have become a national symbol. You're almost 92 years old, but still look healthy and youthful. However, nobody seems to like you very much. Your fellow Danes think it's strange that you're the symbol of their country and that people come all the way to Copenhagen to see you. Crowds of people come to take your picture...and then go home and tell everyone how disappointing you were, so small. You might be consoled by the fact that you live on prime waterfront property...but the view from your backyard is decidedly industrial.
What's more, periodically, people hurt you. You've had your head chopped off...twice. You've had your arm cut off. You've been covered in paint. You've been knocked off of your granite perch into the water. It's enough to make you cry statuesque bronze tears.
When I first came to Copenhagen, the one tourist place I had heard of was the little mermaid. And what I had heard was not good - the representative comment was 'Copenhagen is a nice town. The little mermaid is rubbish.' So, I was expecting very little. Which perhaps is why I came away from my first visit quite enchanted. Of course she is small - or as my boyfriend puts it, 'It's the little mermaid - what do they expect?' But, she's sweet and accessible, and brings out my protective instinct. And, I hope I look half that good naked when I'm her age.
She's also draws people to her. The second time I came to Copenhagen, the mermaid had just been blown into the water, and then taken away to be restored. Instead of the real mermaid, tourists were greeted with a giant sign, in Danish and English, with a big picture of the mermaid, explaining what had happened, including detailed descriptions of her injuries - she had some gouges, but no missing limbs or head, if I remember correctly. I also remember a couple of tourists there with me...taking photographs of the sign. She's a must see mermaid. What's more, she's a marketing dream, gracing postcards, imitation mini-statues, even Little Mermaid perfume.
So, to make a long rant short, when you come to Denmark, to see all of the things I outlined in my last post, do not forget the mermaid. And do not forget to buy me a drink to thank me for the inspiration.