Super Sunday Hamster Blender Blog

20 August 2007

Fock and Roll

We played our second show at the Grady Tavern the other night. We had fun. I love the Grady Tavern, as they are very nice to us. And the show was a Rock Yer Socks show, and they are also very nice to us and we love them as well. Thus, amongst all this love, we played into the wee hours of the morning until we were exhausted by love. Frankly, aren’t we all tired of love? At least that’s what the Republicans say. I think they are trying to get a bill through on the subject.

Anyway, it was great to play out. So this blog entry, of course, is all about Finland. Despite a decent showing of friends and music-seekers, I do not think any of our friends from Finland showed. I blame MySpace a little, as their Bulletin system was down on the day of the show, thus negating any last-minute reminder to our heavy base of Finnish friends.

I can’t blame Finland too much; it’s a long drive and there isn’t a lot of parking at the Grady. They could have carpooled with the Japanese, but I am not sure if they ever got in touch with each other. Maybe there is still tension over the hushed Finnish-Japanese Conflict (or “samurai policing action,” as the responsible governments so nicely spun).

Anyway, Finland is an awesome place. I’ve been there about a dozen times, and it is truly the crown jewel of the Mediterranean, if it were in the Mediterranean. I spent most of my time in Helsinki, and the people were friendly and kind. Similar to the Grady Tavern, but with more parking, fish and nose-picking.

I was once out for a dinner in Helsinki with a bunch of people – a business affair – and there were Americans, Finns, and a Scotsman (sounds like a bad joke already). Sitting directly across from me was a Finnish girl named Marta or something that sounded like the Atlanta rail system. She was a very nice, attractive Finnish girl, and I may have impressed her with my Finnish (counting to three, for example, when the waiter asked me for my wine selection). At one point, she was deeply engaged in telling a story, and without hesitation, began to pick her nose. Not a little, subtle swipe-and-wipe, but a brutal, full-frontal assault with her pointer finger carousing deep inside her nose like a hedgehog digging for a fat, juicy, and entrenched grub (actually, I don’t know what hedgehogs do, or eat; so apologies to hedgehogs everywhere, especially Finnish ones). My instinct was to avert my eyes, but she was talking to me as she picked, and it would have been rude to look away, or even vomit.

Should have I picked my nose, too; in some sort of bizarre unifying cross-Atlantic alliance? No, I just listened, and nodded politely, and choked back the bile. In an odd way, I was impressed with the level of comfort she had with such a personal act. In retrospect, I should have felt honored, and possibly openly applauded such a vigorous display.

And, no, I do not know where the booger went. It’s just one of life’s mysteries, like why Journey is still around.

Anyway, the point being is that the Finns are really quite comfortable with themselves, and are a very accepting nation. It’s quite obvious when you look into the Finnish national pastime of the sauna, where you strip down to nothingness and sit in a very hot room. It’s a family thing as well. After dinner, everyone gets naked and sits together in the house sauna. Now before you picture yourself sitting around naked with your parents talking about whatever one talks about with naked parents, it gets scarier. What does one do when confronted with being naked with your boss? And your boss is the run-of-the-mill dumpy-old-milky-white-male?

You pick your nose.

No, don’t be silly. Anyway, I was doing some work in Finland, and the office building I was in had a very nice executive hospitality room where, one evening, we were catered to in a post-work event. We were served a wonderful dinner and the room was stocked with enough booze to fend off the Russians. There were about a dozen semi-important individuals from a handful of countries. After dinner, our Finnish hosts - as is customary – invited us all (“us all” being all male; and save for two of us, very old and overwhelmingly lumpy) to go for a nice, relaxing sauna. Together. As a nude unit. A nudit.

I am watching my boss, hoping he will lead the way with his polite refusal. Much to my dismay, he’s dropping trou at the desert table. A few others began to join in, and it is not a pretty sight. It’s not even a sight. My eyes are welded shut.

Do I decline and hope I do not insult my Finnish hosts and draw the ire of my boss? Do I join in and feel completely uncomfortable and unequivocally grossed out? Now, it didn’t matter if I were straight, gay, bisexual, tri-sexual, quadra-sexual, asexual, transsexual, transgender, transfigured, disfigured, or disemboweled, this is not what I would have wanted – these people were a meat pie of ill-fitting skin and warm drool. Jabba the Hut had no clothes, right? Well, picture a bunch of Jabbas with pasty white skin and scraggly, misplaced hair.

At this point, I look over at a younger, fitter French gentleman who, like me, had this panicked expression. So I quickly stammered “it is a rule to never get naked with your boss.” He nodded in satisfied agreement and we poured wine and pretended to be involved in an extended and weighty conversation. I deftly counted to a hundred in French. Others with the similar convulsions from the Jabba-nightmare saw and understood our ruse and joined in, until we apparently seemed to be in a heated debate about work and industry and stock markets and soixante-douze.

“We’ll be there in minute, gents, in a minute! We are smack dab in the middle of discussing the pros and cons of federal outsourcing of the salmon market aimed at stabilizing the Lapland economy soixante-treize, soixante-quatorze, soixante-quinze…

It worked. As the sauna door closed behind them, we sighed in relief and set about picking our noses.

Despite my principles, I did feel bad as I am sure I insulted them, and they deserve better. The Finns are extremely hospitable, sharing their sauna and their friendliness at all times. On many occasions I traveled alone to Helsinki, and spent quite a few nights by myself going out to dinner. I favored local pubs where I could get a sandwich and a beer while sitting up at the bar. Every single time, I would be approached by a Finn, and invited into a conversation or over to their table. I vividly recall this one man, upon finding out I was from the United States, exclaiming, “isn’t Finland focking cold!?!?!”


“You know, focking. Like “fock you and fock off!”

“Ohhhhh.” The Finnish language is easier than I thought, to which I counted to three for him.

“HAHAHAHA. Fock you!”

But it was not my language skills that drew them near. Quite often, the request came from a group of 2-3 ladies. Hence, I began to believe Helsinki was the Center of My Universe, where, suddenly, I was a beautiful person. Maybe I looked like a famous Finnish person, or my second-generation European features allowed me to fit in. This was far different than New England, where people only talk to you if you (a) have lived in New England for two centuries, (b) are arresting them, or (c) are on fire.

So at my next opportunity, as I was once again approached by two Finnish women, I had to inquire. Very succinctly, they replied, “It is because you do not look like a Finnish man.”

Attractive by default.

Now I am not sure what turns these Finnish women away from the Finnish men. I mean, everyone is accepting of nude nose picking and all. And the Finnish man can tango. It is the national dance, and they have tango dance nights and tango dance halls. That’s awesome. A nation that tangos together is a nation that is not bombing other countries. And I found all Finns – male or female – nice to me, respectful, and generally happy people. So despite whatever it is that Finnish men did to piss off Finnish women, I am sure it’s all salmon under the bridge during a nice tango date on a long, beautiful Helsinki summer evening. How can one resist its charm? And its practical values - Helsinki is remarkably clean and safe. It’s very similar to Hartford, except Hartford is depressing and gross. They both begin with “H,” though.

Which segues quite nicely back to the beginning of this blog, since Grady Tavern begins with “G” and that is almost “H.” I mentioned we played out there recently. It was fun. It focking rocked.


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