“You know how the homeless people say “taaaaacksåmicke”, with that long “aah”? I wonder if that’s how they were taught to say it, or if that’s their natural accent?”
– Wife, the other day
My natural accent in Swedish should be Finnish, but is not. Of course I don’t know exactly what my Swedish sounds like, except that probably worse than I think. When I first moved to Sweden, and wouldn’t speak Swedish, my colleagues and new friends often – naturally – asked me how much Swedish I spoke to begin with.
My line – because of course I had a standard line for that – was: “It’s probably better than you think but worse than I think”. And I think that applies to my accent as well.
This past fall, I helped Bernd Bruckler write a memoir of his time in the KHL. This is Russia: Life in the KHL – Doctors, bazas and millions of air miles finally appeared on Amazon today, so it’s been a good day. Here’s that link.
Wanna read a small sample of the book’s “Money makes the world go ’round” chapter? Maybe? Here it is.
Oh, here’s ThisIsRussiaTheBook.com.
And here’s the cover:
<%image(tir_show.jpg|325|487|This is Russia: Life in the KHL - Doctors, bazas and millions of air miles
Tonight, I went to the gym wearing my brand new Paris Saint-Germain football team’s hat. Well, its not technically just mine, but Daughter’s and mine. We bought that one, and a Gryffindor hat from the Warner Brothers studios’ Harry Potter Tour in London last week, and the deal is that we’re co-owners of those hats. We both can wear those hats.
As I walked up the stairs to the gym, I saw a dude say something to me. I didn’t hear him, because I was listening to a hockey podcast, but when I saw that he said something to me again, I took the earphones out of my ears and said – as politely as I could – “What?”
“Easy, easy there. Easy now, boy.” That’s what my grandfather apparently told the helicopter pilot that was showing him the sights during an agricultural fair decades ago. Maybe it wasn’t a helicopter, maybe it just a small plane, and the pilot was just trying to show Grampa his own house, but either way, the turn was a little too abrupt for Grampa’s taste so he let the pilot know that he did not approve.
As soon as he got his feet back on the ground, the story about Grampa calling the pilot a boy started to make rounds in the family. It wasn’t just that he had called him a boy, it was also the way he always used to say it, with a drawl that made his dialect so distinct.
”Come on, Daddy, come stand in line with us. You said you wanted to high-five Pluto.”
– Daughter to me, today, at Disney World
Who knows what has led me to believe that I have a special relationship with Disney, but that’s just what I’ve felt all my life. And my connection isn’t just with the Disney characters, not just Donald Duck and Goofy, but with Walt Disney himself, a man who died before I was born.
The special feeling didn’t end when I grew up. Disney was one of three companies on my very short list of places I wanted to work at when I graduated from the business school. Disney, Coke, and Nike was my complete list. I applied for jobs with all of them, interviewed at Coke and Nike, but never at Disney. Not yet, anyway.
Exactly four meters below me, there are two piles of LPs, sitting on a shelf in our basement. If the floor of my office suddenly opened up, so that I’d fall straight down, and then through our hallway floor as well, I’d land on a photo of three dogs in the backseat of a limousine.
Those two piles of vinyl were a big part of t my teen years, which were my most active music listening years, and what seem to have defined my musical taste for the rest of my life. Every once in a while, when I go downstairs to look for something, I stop to look at my old records, and my old turntable sitting next to them in a plastic bag. Every time, I realize that I have most of those LPs also in other formats: First CDs, and then those imported onto my laptop as mp3s, and now somewhere in a Spotify cloud, as “The Only Playlist You’ll Ever Need”.
(That, in a word, is pathetic).
While I was never one of those guys who could visualize their dream car, their dream house, or their dream woman, I always knew that Rita Hayworth was the perfect woman. You may not agree with me, but in that case I will have to respectfully let you know that you’re wrong. And I will tell you why. Rita Hayworth was the perfect woman because he was the star of my Dad’s favorite movie – which I assume was his favorite because she was the star of it.
The movie is Gilda, a 1946 film about an Argentine illegal casino, its owner, his right-hand man, and Gilda, the perfect woman, and the owner’s new bride who appears to share a past with the right-hand man.
I like notes. Since there were no cell phones when I was a kid, Mom and Dad always wanted me to call them at work when I got home from school to let them know that I was fine. After that, I was on my own until they came home. In case I was out skating a little longer, or if I had gone to the store, I was always expected to leave a note for them.
“Mom. Went to store. R”
I’d leave that note on the doormat in the hall of our apartment, so that it’d be the first thing Mom saw when she got home.
We all did that. If my parents weren’t at home when I got in, before I could finish my “I’m hoooo-ooome” call, I’d see the note. If it was stuck to the hall mirror, I knew it was from Mom. Dad left his notes on the table under the mirror, or on the kitchen table.
How hungry am I? Well, I just had a cup of coffee, and then I ate the styrofoam cup. That didn’t help.
I’ve only had breakfast today. It was a good, big Scandinavian hotel breakfast, sure, with scrambled eggs, German wurst, two sandwiches, a croissant, and a cappuccino, but it was eight hours ago.
The reason why I haven’t eaten anything all day is that I’ve been working as a reporter, covering a visiting NHL team in Helsinki: watching their practices, and waiting for the players to come out of their dressing room to face people like me. And right now, I’ve been standing in the corridor outside their room for 50 minutes.
A few years ago, Son and I were standing in line to the Ferris wheel inside the Times Square Toys R Us, and just as we walked up to the gate, it was closed for the ride, so we had to stand there, and wait, and engage in some serious smalltalk with the ticket person.
“Hey, guys, where are you from?” asked the young lady.