The other day, as Son and Daughter and I were at the subway station, waiting for a train, Daugher told me that it was true, there was actually a place called Korvatunturi (Ear Mountain) in Finland.
“Did you know that?” she asked me.
I told her I did.
She didn’t say it, but something else was implied in her question and remark. The fact that if the grown-ups kept telling her that Santa Claus lives at Korvatunturi in Finland – and at least one grown-up in her life does – and if there is such a place for real, then there must be something to this Santa business.
My father was in Turkey on a vacation a few weeks ago. Last week, he paid a visit to us and on our way back from the airport, he rolled up his left sleeve and showed me his watch.
“Got myself a new watch in Turkey,” he said.
“Oh yeah? Ten bucks?” I asked him.
“No, no, this is a real watch. A lot more than that,” he said, and added after pause, “but not three figures.”
“I looked it up online, a watch like this is worth 8000 euro –when it’s a real Breitling. But really, who buys a watch worth 8000 euro?”
When I moved to Sweden in 1998, I stayed the first week in an apartment that belonged to a friend of friend, before moving into another apartment that I rented from a future colleague. Well, she was already a colleague, but only for a few days. My first week there, I didn’t have any furniture so I spent my nights lying on a borrowed mattress in the kitchen, reading under the kitchen hood light.
No surprise then, that I didn’t have the right cable package to watch the hockey World Championships three weeks later, although I did have electricity and a couch at home. I followed the tournament in the papers, and did watch half of one game in a bar with another new colleague of mine, but didn’t see the final games between Sweden and Finland.
There are two schoolyards in the world that I know better than most, despite the fact that I never went to those schools. One of them is the the schoolyard of Son’s and Daughter’s school in Stockholm, and the other is an elementary school in Joensuu, Finland.
The school was right next to our local multipurpose arena: a gravel pitch where we played soccer and Finnish pesäpallo in the summer, and hockey in the winter. The school was just 200 meters from our house, but went almost completely unnoticed by me the for first two years I lived in Joensuu. However, when it was time to go to high school, and ride my green Peugeot to town, the schoolyard was the perfect shortcut, and saved me at last ten, maybe fifteen seconds on my way to school.
“So, anyways, I’ve met someone…”
The other day as I was going into the sauna, I walked right into a boy’s shirt that was hanging from the door on the inside. On the shirt, there’s a note – in Son’s handwriting – that says: “Costume #2, “Dad”, sophisticated Q725”.
Son has always been making all kinds of plays. He’s gone to a drama school for five years, he’s been in a movie, and he’s currently in a comedy show, but he’s always liked to tell stories and jokes, and perform. My mother bought him a microphone stand when he was two, and apparently, that was his thing. (After a joke, he’d press a button with his tiny foot to start up the laugh track).
I don’t remember ever having been fascinated by war. I was never that kid with a big plastic bag full of toy soldiers, or the kid who wore camouflage pants weeks on end. I knew both those kids, and I also knew a third kid, who wore camouflage pants when he made short war movies, and taped firecrackers to his toy soldiers.
But not me.
I only had three toy soldiers, and mostly I made toiler paper parachutes for them, and threw them down the balcony. Or, to be honest, I threw them from my parents’ bed, but I always wanted to throw one down from our second-floor balcony to see how they’d fare. I knew I wasn’t supposed to throw stuff from the balcony so I didn’t. The only did I ever threw down was a brown, six-month-old Xmas tree which I didn’t want to carry down the stairs, but instead I just lifted it over the rail and let it drop onto the backyard parking area.
By then, I was already almost thirty.
Dear Valued Customer,
Thank you for using Santa Claus™ Global Services (SCGS). We hope you had a Santastic™ experience, and that we’ll see you again soon. Before that, though, we’d kindly ask you to fill in our customer satisfaction survey so that we can make your next experience even merrier.
The survey takes only three minutes to complete. Thank you, and ho, ho, ho.
BRUSSELS – A big step towards world peace was taken today in the capital of Europe, as world leaders began the process of planning a special peace summit to discuss important matters in a wide range of topics, from financial to geopolitical to educational to philosophical and moral matters. Those unable to participate can join for parts of it via Skype, and those without a broadband Internet connection, can take part in the conference in spirit.
According to the confidential reports leaked to this reporter, representatives of all parts of the world, of all religions and faiths, and of all races and cultural enclaves will be invited to be in attendance.
They say we learn something new every day. Even I say that every once in a while, mostly when I realize I really have learned something new, often an unexpected fact. Then there are the things you learn and keep telling forward even though you really can’t explain them, not really, and even though you can’t be really sure if they’re true.
I have two such stories. I still keep telling them to people, even though I have no idea if they’re true or not, and if pressed, would probably guess that they’re not true.
In fact, I told one of them to our neighbors just the other day. We were sitting at a restaurant on the ferry to Finland, having met there by coincidence, and as we talked while the kids were in the playland, the ferry moved sideways a little. Not as if in a storm, but just a little so that people stopped walking on the decks, and grabbed a hold of the tables in the restaurants, leaning back, trying to figure out if the problem was the ferry or their heads.