Last weekend, Daughter had another bandy game. Bandy, if you don’t know, is like field hockey on ice, and Daughter, if you don’t know, rocks the sport. She’s a great skater, and more importantly, she’s got the gene that I don’t have, which is the one that makes her want to practice every time she gets a chance.
The games last Saturday were especially exciting because they were her first games indoors.
“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.
For the first time in my life, I have a garage, and I think that’s very exciting. From what I’ve heard, all kinds of exciting things take place in garages. Deep Throat met with Woodward and Bernstein in a large garage – “Large Garage”, a great pen name for someone – many bands have honed their acts in a garage, both Apple and Google got their starts in garages, and these days, one of the most famous garages is the one in which Marc Maron tapes his podcasts.
Having a band rehearsal on a parking lot, or sitting at a typewriter in a car port is just not the same thing.
Shortly after Son was born, in the middle of the greyest time of the year in Helsinki, Finland, my mother asked me if I ‘d ever thought that I wouldn’t have kids at all. She was holding him in her arms and Wife and I were getting ready for our first night out without the baby – “Finding Nemo”, a long story, will tell later – so I quickly just told her I hadn’t – because that was the truth.
It’s just that I hadn’t thought about having kids, either. I simply didn’t think much. When I was a teenager, and my buddies talked about their dream cars and dream girls, I sat in the sidelines, listening, because I didn’t have either.
And yet, somehow I ended up with my dream car – turns out it was a Volvo V50 – and the dreamiest of my dream girls, Wife. And with her, our dream children.
I don’t think I had seen a homeless person until I was in my twenties. I must have been aware of the people walking around, sitting on park benches, but those were mostly referred to as people who were down and out, maybe just as “drunks”.
I remember the uproar when the streets of Helsinki were wiped clean of such individuals before the CSCE meetings in Helsinki and I remember reading the daily political cartoons in the paper, and there was one recurring character who represented these people.
Decades ago, I found it fascinating to hear my grandmother talk about things that had happened decades ago. I was always fascinated by the fact that she could even remember things that had happened so long ago. Well, here we are, and I’m about to tell you a story that begins, as you guessed, decades ago.
So … decades ago … when I was a schoolboy, there was no Facebook or Twitter, or Amazon, which meant that all the recommendations of cool things to read and do, and listen to, came from my friends. One friend knew all about the coolest comics, another was in charge of sports teams, and a third one was a reader.
And then, a fourth one, Mika – name not changed – was my house guru for music. He was perfect, because he didn’t just introduce me to new music, or old music for that matter, but when he did, he put it into context. Speaking with him was like speaking with a music critic. Not only did he know that Bruce Springsteen was the Boss, he knew why he was the Boss, and why he should also be the boss of me.
Fifteen years ago, in the middle of the dotcom boom, among my then-employer’s many brilliant hires was one young lady who, if you ask me, turned out to be the most brilliant of them all. She got a desk on the same floor as mine, and every morning, while minding my own business, I’d watch her walk across the office and sit down at her desk.
And later that same day, while still minding my own business – which I made clear to everybody by wearing headphones and humming Finnish 80s rock songs – I’d see her get up at her desk and walk to the kitchen to get a cup of hot chocolate.
By now you’ve probably been to New York and Los Angeles, seen the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the pyramids in Egypt. You’ve checked out Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin and walked on the Chinese Wall hoping to be seen from space. You’ve eaten that dangerous blowfish, of course, and drunk wine made of grapes from the shady side of the Andes.
Chances are you’ve also come across Finns along the way. Maybe you’ve met one, maybe you know one, maybe you’re married to one, or maybe someone you know is married to one.
Spotify, the online music service, recently put its boys in the lab on the job to analyze 50 years’ worth of summer hits to come up with an exhaustive list of summer jams. And as you can expect, the list is a collection of fantastic songs, from “It’s my party” to “Ring my bell” to “Every breath you take” to “We like to party” to “Hips don’t lie” to “Call me maybe”.
Some more fantastic than the others, of course.
The full list has 130 songs on it, and according to Spotify’s team of scientists, the saddest and the slowest of them all is “Alone” by Heart, the Nancy and Ann Wilson sister act.
That’s not how I remember it.
I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind
That I put down in words…
How wonderful life is, now you’re in the world
Moulin Rouge, the movie, came out in 2001, almost two years before Son was born. I didn’t know much about it, but for some reason I thought I wouldn’t like it, so I never watched it. About six months before Son was born, Wife and I traveled to Maine, and it was one of the movies shown on the plane, so I watched it with my nose about six inches from the six-inch screen, and I loved it.
When we got home, we saw it at a friend’s place, and then finally, on the big screen. And I loved it every time. For years, I had the “Can can can” song as my ring signal.