A few days ago, I put on my father’s IT support person’s hat on and tried to help him hack into his own Apple account so he could buy an app. It was fairly easy, or should have been, as it was the same IT support person who had once created the account and the password to go with it. However, once again, I had been too clever for my own good, or the good of my father, because I simply couldn’t remember the password and had to take the bonus round: the secret password questions.
First question: What was the name of your first pet?
Since the questions were designed to retrieve my father’s password, not mine, I hesitated at first, but then asked him, “Maybe Roope?”
“Nooooo,” he said, “who’s Roope?”
Who’s Roope? Only the first pet I remember him having.
First of of all, I told the world, I’d work on my physique
“This year, I’ll go to the gym at least four times a week”
But 300 days later I have to concede
That I’m not made for life at the gym, simply because I am weak
If a song was written in 1904, is it a traditional folk song? Maybe not, but I didn’t care because I was in fourth grade, and I didn’t know the song was written in 1904, or that a version of it had been in an early 1960s Finnish movie. Our teacher had probably picked that one to make our music class a little more contemporary.
It didn’t, but I didn’t care. I just loved singing the song.
I sat in the front row, as I often did, being a small kid. The big kids could see from behind a smaller one, but us shorties wouldn’t have seen anything sitting behind a big, we were told, so I sat in the front row even in music class, even though it didn’t really matter there.
“Daddy, I can’t sleep … tell me a story … pleeeeeeease.”
“Try to think of something nice. Like, like, fairies, and butterflies.”
“You always say that butterflies are just overrated insects, that’s not nice, is it?”
“Well, no, I know. How about you think about, say, the Smurfs? They’re nice. And funny, remember how that one smurf always carries around those gift boxes that explode?”
“Yes. He’s Jokey Smurf.”
“Yes! What a funny guy!”
I open my eyes and get out of my bed. I look out the window, the sun is shining, and a blue bus is just pulling out of the stop across the street. When it’s gone, three seconds later, I see the poster on the bus stop. It’s an advertisement for “Slap Shot”. It puzzles me that a hockey movie is coming out in the summer, but not as much as it puzzles me that Mom and Dad won’t let me see it.
I’m the kinda guy who’s fairly easily impressed by others. I may not always say it, or show it to the person in question, but in my heart I know it.
I look up to those people and I try to emulate them. Maybe I’ll start to dress like them, or I try to walk like them, or – just something. As a kid I taught myself how to fake Wayne Gretzky’s autograph, and I put a photo of Wayne over my own photo in my bus pass. When somebody told me I walked like Esa Peltonen, a Team Finland star, I made sure to keep walking that way.
When I was ten, or eleven, and read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, I wanted to be Mark Twain. He’s still my literary hero and one day I will have a mustache like that, too.
I was only ten years old when I realized the first of my superpowers. I was sitting in the backseat of our car, in a parking lot somewhere, waiting for my father to come back from the store or the hockey rink. For some reason, I wasn’t reading comics, or a book, but instead just looked out the window – like kids used to do back in the day.
As I was staring out the window, possibly trying to see if Dad was on his way back, I realized that I was actually looking right through a lamp post.
“How come you don’t have any beard over here, where you have that scar?”
– Son, one recent Saturday
Right on the edge of my chin, on the left side, there’s a scar. It’s not a big one, just a couple of centimeters long, and since it is where it is, you don’t really see it, especially if I’m clean shaven. But then I make a funny or scary face, or grin, the scar travels a little further up, and it’s there for you to see it.
And every once in a while when someone realizes I have a scar on my face, she asks me about it.
“How’d you get that scar?” she’ll say, and I’ll smile and say:
“You should see the other guy.”
And then I tell her the story.
Ever since I realized it was cool to have parents who have done extraordinary things, I’ve told all my friends that my father won a Finnish championship as a young man. It was a major ace in the hole when other kids were bragging about their parents’ successes.
Now, my Dad was no longer a player, like Lare’s father – who played Division II soccer – and my Dad wasn’t a candy wholesaler like Pekka’s, but he sure had won that Finnish title.
Except that he won it in pesäpallo, which while being Finland’s national sport, was, and is, also a small and rural sport, and therefore, not the coolest of sports.
Also, he only sort of won a championship. That he was on the team that won can’t be disputed and never will be disputed, because I have the evidence right in front of me. On my desk there’s a photo, a newspaper clipping, in which he’s holding the trophy and his teammates are all around him, beaming.
Wife looked at me, and raised her eyebrows.
“You gotta do what you gotta do. There’s no other way,” I said.
“You’re right,” she said, got back on her bike, and kept on riding through the overgrown grass and some bushes. We were discovering things, and nobody said it would be easy.