My family

Holiday. Spending time with parents and a brother.

As for what this is like, besides nice, consider this. A car, with me, brother, our father in it. On the radio the selkouutiset start — the Finnish version of “News in Simple English”, except in Finnish, and the name translates as “Clear News”. Immediately, simultaneously, all three of us hit on the question of “What’s unclear news then?” and start jabbering and slobbering like crazy, then realizing what we’ve done laughing like even more utterer fools.

Earlier that same drive, we pass the village that’ll go as Nameless, and a sign advertising a folk music thingie called a Namelessfolk festival. Five seconds pass as I fish for the right German word; then my father steals the right quote I was fishing for: “Ein Namelessvolk, Ein Namelessreich, Ein Namelessfuehrer?”

My father’s side of the family is all like this: four ever-cheerful brothers that all can run verbal rings round anyone, and him the oldest and slyest of them. When one of then turns round years, there will be a serenade; and there will be cringing, too.

I spent my childhood looking up at dad, wondering where that quick wit came, how could it be, and why I was so shy, sullen and timid; then at round twenty I began finding bits of the same in me, and all was joy. It feels really nice when you get someone to laugh; even better when you’ve known a time when talking to someone was a chore because the interests you shared were bound to be zero. Turns out absurd humor is a shared interest for nearly everyone; those it isn’t for, I’m not interested in talking to anyway.

But enough sappiness: As for sauna — well, the sauna-bathing today included us three manfolk coming to the conclusion that there was no way to show our country locality wasn’t in the iron grip of fearsome gangster squirrels. Can’t prove a negative, can you? We even went as far as to mock up soundbites from the highly paranoid investigative TV special that’d break the story, half a stentorian Hannu Karpo thing and half a cousin of a History Channel UFO conspiracy special — “In this, a village dominated by fear, silence reigns. It is a decidedly Finnish kind of omerta, the law of silence, and in the fear only one question remains: whose sauna’s going up in flames next?”

The starter for that conversation — in a sauna on the place of one that’d gone up in flames a few years past — was a different alternative hypothesis for the ignition: father had had an oak vasta (usually them’s made of birch), that being the bunch of twigs you beat yourself with while in that 100-Celsius heat…

Why, is this news to you? This is not madness; this is Finland.

The alternative ignition hypothesis being that though birch vastas cannot be reused, them growing all soggy and yuck, the oak vasta could be washed and dried — it was a very nice one, and it was a shame it had been lost in the fire.

To which I commented: “Well, the used birch ones are dried then burned as firestarters. Maybe the oak one had that built in.”

And much fun was had.

While bathing — also, if you need to get a Finn to talk, get him/her naked and into a humid room of 100 Celsius, and get thee alcohol too — the topic of local celebrities also came up.

There has been, as far as we could recall, two members of the Parliament (Eduskunta) out of our big but poor and thinly populated municipality.

One was known for letting loose a torrent of diarrhea on a Parliament sauna suite couch, and in a separate incident literally making a hotel suite’s furniture into fireplace fodder.

To which my comment was: “And at that point, we thought it could get no worse, huh? And then the next guy was a True Finn.”

One Response to “My family”

  1. Bob O'Hara Says:

    It is a decidedly Finnish kind of omerta,

    Sorry, I’m struggling with this. How would you notice?

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