Spread a little happiness

If you’ve seen “A Night at the Roxbury” you’ll surely remember the Butabi brothers’ funny moves to “What is love”, and if you’ve seen it a dozen times like Wife and I – it was the first movie we saw together – you’ll also remember the scene in which the brothers rush to the rich nightclub owner Benny Zadir’s office.

“We’ve got a meeting with Mr. Zadir,” says one of the brothers, played by Will Ferrell.

“Names?” asks the assistant.

“Doug and Steve Butabi.”

Then the assistant delivers the line that is one of the running jokes of the movie:

Are you two brothers?

Earlier in the movie, when Doug and Steve have tried to get into the Roxbury, the bouncer has asked them the same question and every time, they deliver their standard reply.


[Pause] [Eye-rolling]

And then: “YEEEEES!”

But at Mr. Zadir’s office, Doug says something else: “Ma’am, I appreciate the setup but I don’t really have time for this.”

Sometimes, though, there has to be time, regardless of the setup. Here are my top 3 lines from our recent US road trip.


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This time it’s for real

For sixteen years, the Golden Gate Bridge has been something of a secret code in our household. A symbol of unity, if you will, between Wife and me, a testament to our way of sticking together. Well, not the actual bridge – even though it is an impressive sight and an impressive piece of engineering as it is – but driving across it.

I love to drive. Ever since I was a baby, the car’s been my safe place, and my happy place. The backseat was my domain, back there, I’ve read comics and made scientific experiments – such as testing which brand of glue dries fastest. Back in the day, there were no seat belts, especially not in the back, and there were no boosters or baby seats, I’d just lie on the back seat and take a nap when we drove to Grandma’s place.

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Notes on America, from America

About 25 years ago, I was an intern at a Finnish-owned company in Canada, and got to tag along my (Finnish) boss on a trip to the cottage country in northern Ontario. I got to tag along because I was a fellow Finn and almost a part of his family having spent the entire summer under his roof.

He thought it was just a casual gathering, a meet-up with some friends and acquaintances, but then again, he had only been doing business in Canada for less than a year.


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Play Dixie for me

Looking back, it’s always easy to connect the dots and see how one thing led to another. That’s how we take out the randomness and turn in a nice and clean story, because in truth, you never know where the road’s going to take you. You just keep on going, and while you may know where you’re trying to get, sometimes you make a right turn or get off an exit you hadn’t planned on taking, only to find out you ended up exactly where you should.

Both literally and figuratively speaking.


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7 things I learned driving from NYC to Toronto

IMG_22771. When the Hornblower gets to about 20 meters from the Horseshoe Falls, you will get wet, which is fine but the volume of falling water is such that it pushes so much air at you that you may find it hard to breathe. Tell the others in your group the Niagara Falls are, in a word, breathtaking.


2. Sometimes the thing to do really is the thing to do and that’s why you should eat a bucket of buffalo wings in Buffalo’s Anchor Bar. (Don’t forget to tip).


3. If you come across a Canadian dude at your local rink, and you see he’s holding a bandy stick instead of a hockey stick, go talk to him and help him find a hockey stick. Give him a ride home. Ask him if he wants to play some more hockey with your team, and if he says yes, pick him up with your car and give him a ride afterwards. You’ll become friends and you’ll go to Cancun together, and you’ll meet up somewhere else, and while you won’t see each other for fifteen years, you’re still the only person in the world to call him “Tiger” and you do stay in touch, and before you know it, you pull up in his driveway in Toronto. You both have nice families, and you barbecue and talk and have a great time and you realize how lucky you are to have (Canadian) friends like that.


4. The best way to get rid of the habit of checking social media is to drive in North America, and only use the Tim Hortons and Starbucks wifi to get online. In just three days, your mind will come up with other things to keep itself busy. Paying attention to the traffic, for example.

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5. On Toronto’s Harbour Street, there’s the old Toronto Harbor Commission building which in itself may be good to know, but most importantly, try to stay as curious and inquisitive as the 13-year-old boy who points out to you the difference in the spelling of “harbor” on the side of the building and the street sign at the intersection – and also does a Jim Carrey impression.


6. Even if you ate a bucket of wings in Buffalo, you don’t have to eat a 50-pack of the small donuts the Canadians call Timbits. A 20-pack will do just fine. After all, you didn’t choose the “suicidal” sauce in Buffalo, either.


7. Canadians still call bathrooms washrooms.

The Coral Island revisited

Just like Son and Daughter, I, too, had a lot of books when I was a kid. When I moved out, the books got to stay on the shelves for a while for the first few summers I returned home, and then they were taken to storage, and then, with a few exceptions, they were gone.

Among the exceptions, there are a few hockey books – biographies of Tretiak, Kharlamov, and Gretzky – the collected fairytales of H.C. Andersen, The Story of Robin Hood by John Finnemore, and The Coral Island by Robert M. Ballantyne.


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