Lady and the Tramp



“How to Fall in Love with a Man Who Lives in a Bush” is the title of her novel and as fantastically whimsical as that sounds, it was the reality for world travelling, Swedish polyglot actor Emmy Abrahamson. If the title wasn’t already taken, she could have called her book “Lady and the Tramp.”

Vic Kocula, about 5 years Emmy’s junior, was a working-class Polish-born, Canada raised, son of a bricklaying dad and a mother who was a cleaner.

It was the mid-2000s, and the young adult Vic decided to find adventure through European travels. He couldn’t find regular income or ration the little money that he did have and consequently, he found himself living on the streets.

He soon fell into a dark spiral of drinking and drug taking. His travel pack included little more than a sleeping bag and a briefcase to store a few cans of beer.

In his own recollection, Vic, describes the time by saying, “The wheels fell off and the alcoholism kicked in heavy. It was such a gradual turn that suddenly one day I realised, ‘Oh my god, I’m a homeless alcoholic’.”

One day Emmy sat herself down on a park bench in Amsterdam to wait for a film director to discuss a project.

Before the director could get there Emmy was confronted by a 25-year-old Vic with grossly dirty fingernails, crusted hair, knotty beard and clothes that reeked of sweat and garbage would have caused many single ladies to justifiably, mentally “swipe left”. Emmy however was engaged by the audacity and courage of the person beneath the dirty exterior.

Vic in his reflection describes seeing Emmy and being unable to stop himself from approaching her and talking to her. “There was this beautiful woman sitting there by herself and she looked super-content, with a smile on her face. I just had to go and talk to her.”

The tall vagabond sat himself next to the patient Emmy and asked her the time. That initiating question led to 10 minutes of easy conversation and laughter between the 2. Romantic tingling had already begun to manifest.

Before leaving Vic asked Emmy if he could catch up with her again, 6 days later, at the same location. She said yes.

In preparation for this second meeting Vic, who describes living homeless as having a negative effect on foot health due to wearing the same shoes and socks and often having them soak in sweat and rain, decided to sell drugs in order to purchase some smell-masking foot cream! He was keen to make a better 2nd impression than his first.

When he arrived 20 minutes late and riding on a children’s bicycle, Emmy had every sensible right to question the sanity of sticking around for this guy, but she did. In her book she says, “I was really trying to fight it but I was very attracted to him.”

This time they left the bench and wandered Amsterdam, sharing conversation, food and a first kiss.

After 3 more dates Emmy left for Vienna, Austria, where she had been residing. She gave Vic her phone number without any expectations. He didn’t have a phone for starters.

3 weeks later, after Vic spent a weekend in prison for stealing a chicken and Emmy reached her 30th birthday milestone, the homeless romantic called the woman who had captured his heart. When she answered the phone the first words that he spoke were, “I’m here!”

By picking up odd jobs Vic earned and saved enough money to purchase a train ticket to Austria.

To bring this odd fairy-tale to its heart-warming conclusion, Vic sorted out his life, cleaned himself up inside and out, and went back to school to become a mechanical engineer. Emmy and Vic were married 2 years after meeting and are now parents to twins!

Emmy’s parents knew a little of his rough background and his “wildness” was obvious when they met but they only learned the full story, including Vic’s homelessness and substance abuse when the book was released and at the time some of Emmy’s closest friends abandoned her because they couldn’t accept the man she had fallen in love with.

On the whole ordeal Emmy says, “Some people see me as having ‘saved’ Vic but I think it’s the other way round. He showed me you don’t need much to be content. And he makes me laugh every day.”

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