Despite Denmark's own flagging economy, the Danish Council for Independent Research apparently has too much money lying around. They're giving 2.5 million Kroner ($419,000 US) to a Danish PhD student who wants to determine whether trolls live on Bornholm island.
Anyone who's been to the Norway exhibit at Epcot knows that Scandinavians love their trolls. The knobbly creatures with huge noses and wild hair run rampant through Nordic fairy tales, but are thought to be as real as the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, or a tasty gluten-free brownie.
PhD student Lars Christian Kofoed Rømer was the lucky researcher selected to receive the 2.5 million Kroner grant. He'll spend a year on the island in the Baltic Sea looking for "physical manifestations" of trolls. He's even looking for the Krølle Bølle troll, which has already been determined to be fake, as it was created in 1946 by author Ludwig Mahler.
My research proposal was shredded and returned to me, postage due.
I spoke with noted Danish troll hunter, Bjorn Jorgensen, to ask him about the chances of Rømer finding evidence of the supernatural beings.
"You have to understand that trolls are very shy creatures," said Jorgensen. They usually only live in and around burial mounds. They're also very mischievous, so they may not actually want to be found for the entire year.
"They're notoriously hard to spot, although you can often see evidence that they've been around. They'll hide your keys, put your wallet in your other pants, or send racy text messages to your wife's best friend."
"Sounds like you've got some real experience with trolls," I said.
"Ja, they're real stinkers," he said. "I first became aware of them when my wife was snooping around on my mobile phone. Since then, I've dedicated my life to finding the trolls who would do such a thing."
"Have you had any luck?"
"I've been close," said Jorgensen. "I've tried leaving little traps, like the old stick and box trick. I've found the box tipped over, or the troll has placed a raccoon inside the trap."
"What kind of advice do you have for Mr. Rømer?"
"There are a few things I would tell him if I could, except my wife checks my mobile phone daily. First, trolls only come out at night. There's no use trying to find them during the day. For one thing, their hidey-holes are camouflaged with troll magic, which means you wouldn't even see them if you were standing on top of them."
"But you can see them at night?"
"Oh no, of course not. It's too dark."
"Then how do you know whether you can see them?"
"I have been a troll hunter for 11 years. I know how to spot a troll hole."
"You mean a Krølle Bølle troll hole?"
"Don't be a smartrøv."
"Sorry. What else should Mr. Rømer know?"
"Trolls are able to disguise themselves. They're very cunning and clever that way. Many times, I have captured a troll, but he has cleverly disguised himself as a raccoon or rabbit. Once, a troll disguised himself as a badger, and I had to be taken to hospital. I received 37 stitches in my hands, and a series of painful rabies shots. I was not able to text my wife's— I mean, continue with my troll hunting for weeks."
"Have you ever seen a real troll?"
"Absolutely," said Jorgensen. "I actually held one in my hands. He was only half a meter tall, and I caught him around his middle with both hands. I went to show my wife, but he bit me on the hand. He almost broke the skin! He also poked me in the eye with that big nose of his. I had to drop him, and he scampered off into the woods."
"That's unfortunate," I said.
"Yes, Mr. Rømer will need to be careful. Trolls will also steal people's clothes, if they are not careful. He needs to take care if he is ever doing nocturnal research with his wife's fri—I mean, research assistant."
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