When we were kings

Turns out, I didn’t know anybody. I thought I could put all the names and faces together, but I didn’t recognize my best buddy. I probably would have had somebody asked me to find him in the crowd sitting in the sun, but when he came to shake my hand, I drew a blank.

Then again, he wasn’t sure who I was, either.

Almost like the first day of school.

Except a lot more fun.

Because on the first day of school I cried.

It was the summer of ’81

The sports camp is about to end. We’ve had a week of fun, a week of cracking jokes in the dark when we were supposed to be sleeping, and getting ready for the sports activities we’ll be doing the next day. It’s always the same guys, too, with the same jokes, but they’re kind of funny, and I’m the new kid anyway, so I’ll just lie on my mattress and listen. And giggle.

 Me.

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Naming rights

There’s nothing like a nickname to date you. Not to the whole world, but in relation to your buddies. What works in high school, may not work in the adult world. Sometimes people outgrow their nicknames. That’s why the Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs doesn’t want to be called “Tico”, like when we played minor hockey against each other, but Alexander.

Ripe.

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Ride of a lifetime

“Dad, can we play that things-that-didn’t-exist-when-you-were-a-kid game again?”
– Son, from the backseat, yesterday

Oh, where to begin. Of course we didn’t have cell phones, flat screen TVs – color TVs, actually – remote controls, shoes with Velcro instead of laces, and in the words of a 4331-member strong Facebook group, “When I was your age, hockey bags didn’t have [bleeping] wheels on them”.

There were no Crocs, no CDs, no DVDs, no Euros, no toy Kalashnikovs, and no Star Wars Lego merchandise. We did have clogs, and VHS, and my father used to make wooden pistols, and leather holsters for me.

Facebook group of three.

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Born to be my baby

“It feels so unreal, was it the same for you?”
– Brother-in-law, 48 hours before the arrival of his first-born

Apparently, only four percent of children are born on the actual due date, which, to me, makes the whole concept of having one date simply ludicrous. If that’s the best they can do, why not simply give the parents a good ballpark guestimate, say, a week, and leave it at that.

3/4 of the family.

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United artists

Do you remember the first time you watched a movie on a DVD? What was it?
– Wife, last night

Sometime in 1978, my father brought home two boxes that did wonderful things. Both were really good at just one, of course, but together, they revolutionized the way our household worked.

And sometimes, he'd make his own movies.

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Sink or swim

I’m in the water. I’m telling myself to stay calm. Breathe. I inhale and move my arms and legs fast. I seem to be floating. Maybe I can do this after all. I move my limbs too fast. Too fast. No, too slow. I’m drowning. I move my arms faster. I kick the water as hard as I can. It doesn’t help. I. Can’t. Stay. Afloat. The water tastes likes shit. I spit. I close my eyes. I want to rub my eyes but can’t because if I do, I will go under water, and I will never get up.

“Risto!”

My cool Dad. Inspecting something.

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On speed

Here’s a fact I’m 100 percent sure you didn’t know: You’re reading the collected works of the speed reading champion of the Oulunkylä Elementary School, circa 1976.

One day on third grade, each of us had to leave the classroom at some point, sit down with the teacher, and read as much of a book as we could in 60 seconds, out loud. I can’t remember how many words I read, or even what the book was.

Just chillin' ... what's up?

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Legacy

It was a hot and humid Swedish summer night, I was up, translating a book. That was the night when Michael Jackson died. I saw the news first in a friend’s Facebook feed, as he had posted a link to a Finnish site that ran a headline “Michael Jackson dead”.

And it turned out they were right, even if the status in LA media at that point still was either “rumored dead” or “in a coma”.

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