So, the weekend was a bust.
Friday night was weird but fun, though. Went to dinner at this fancy Russian restaurant and enjoyed a selection of vodkas (as well as actual food in delicious blini form). I guess it would be more accurate to say I enjoyed a couple of nice vodkas – the honey vodka was delicious – and then suffered through the pepper vodka, which was awful. Food was good even if the service was a bit slow, and the company – a selection of former colleagues and colleagues-of-colleagues who have all become friends over the years – was excellent. We Secret Santa’d, and I managed to fob off one of my books to Heli who really did a good job of pretending to be pleased, and we all had a good laugh at the book of Bunny Suicides and the “impossible box / mahdoton rasia” magic trick that Jarmo got.
Then Anna and I headed across town to meet up with a bigger group of Lionbrides at the Apollo for some Finnish stand-up and the drowning of sorrows after a whole mess of our co-workers got fired. A few more drinks were had, including a couple of Captain Morgan Spiced Gold and colas. They were nice. The stand-up was reasonably funny, for Finnish stand-up. First guy tanked completely – and he deserved to, his routine was mostly about diarrhoea and the audience just talked among themselves throughout and after a while he just declared that the whole thing wasn’t going the way he’d planned and walked off stage. The second guy was funnier, but only because he totally used me as a prop.
About halfway through his routines he asked if anyone in the audience had been married a long time. I hesitantly put up my hand and he asked me how long I’d been married, I told him it was fourteen years. He asked if my wife was here tonight, and I had to say “no”, which got a big laugh and a round of applause. It all went in a very predictable and lowest-common-denominator way from then on, with rather tired nagging-wife jokes and man-shopping jokes and so on, none of which really applied to me but which I took in good grace because he told them in a funny way. Plus, he couldn’t pronounce “Chucky” when he asked me my name, so everyone called me “Jacky” for the rest of the night.
After another couple of rounds at the comedy club, Anna and Wendy and Mr. Fahrenheit and I got in another taxi and headed to Kallio. Why do we always go to Kallio?
Well, in this case that was where our dinner party crowd had promised to meet up with us, even though it was getting difficult to contact any of them and nobody was really sure whether they wanted to go anywhere. They wanted to go to a bar that wouldn’t be too crowded and might play “oldies” music of the ’80s and ’90s. Most of the Lionbrides wanted to stay at the Apollo, so we parted ways.
We ended up at this bizarre series of semi-linked-up warehouse bars named, as far as I can tell from the stamps on my wrists, Kaiku and Kuudes Linja. They seemed to have a set of interconnected soundproofed rooms with different music playing in each one. If any of them were playing ’80s and ’90s music, they were doing so ironically. Wow, what a den of utter hipsterosity. I’m glad I was there with peers, because I doubt there was anyone else over the age of about 25 in the place. We sat down in Kaiku for a round – in my case the weirdest and most awful White Russian I had ever tasted – and waited for the others to show up. When they did show up, it was to the bar next door, so Anna and I went to meet them. Wendy and Mr. Fahrenheit decided to stay behind, and apparently I said I would go and get them, although frankly by that stage I was getting tired of cat-herding and didn’t know why they weren’t just coming with us now, so I may have decided “fuck it, they can stay here if they obviously want to.”
Leaving my coat and backpack at Kaiku, I went up into Kuudes Linja and there sat around and watched the weirdos with my completely normal and well-adjusted friends. Not least of the weirdos was a young lady I have taken to calling Tank Girl, because she was dressed in a boob-length fur coat, suspenders-panties-stockings-high-heels, and nothing else that we could see. I would have taken a photo of her but it probably would have been a sex crime. Anyway, she was completely wasted – nothing like a little alcohol to thin the blood on a cold night when you’re basically naked – and was flailing around the bar and dance floor quite amusingly, and we all had a good wonder at how anyone decides to leave home dressed like Amy Winehouse had forgotten to finish putting her kit on.
A decent White Russian was had to dispel the taste of the whatever-that-other-thing-had-been, and also a shot of Maker’s Mark because it was a cool bottle, and then a glass of coke to put the Maker’s Mark in when Maker’s Mark turned out to be the worst bourbon in the entire world.
Many of the team went dancing, but I decided to just sit and wait for something I recognised to come onto the sound system. I did recognise some Faithless, Britney Spears and Coolio, although they all made me feel very old indeed and so I again opted to just sit it out. After about nine reasonably-strong drinks and as two in the morning rolled around, I realised I was simply not going to get drunk and was not going to suddenly start enjoying myself, and so I got up and left.
I met Wendy and Mr. Fahrenheit coming out of Kaiku, and was duly shouted at for not coming to get them the way I “promised”, because apparently I am the puppetmaster who pulls all the God damn strings in this crazy little world. Wendy walked home and Mr. Fahrenheit and I started thinking about a taxi, but this was a peak pikkujoulu weekend so the taxis were few and far between. Eventually we started walking for a taxi rank, but we found a McDonald’s first, and then I realised that while the bus that would take me directly home had long since finished its rounds, the one that would take me with a few hundred heavily-forested metres of home would still be running for a while. So we had a snack, waited until 2:45, and then I jumped on a bus and Mr. Fahrenheit headed for his taxi. The line did not look too horrendous.
I shared the bus with Lasse, an old family friend who had also been out having a few beers with his buddies … and also with Tank Girl, who was carried onto the bus by two guys and then carried off somewhere on the seedier side of Vaarala by one of the aforementioned guys. I would have worried, would maybe have tried to make sure she hadn’t just been picked up off the side of the road and was being carried away somewhere by an opportunistic passer-by, but they really did seem to genuinely care about her well-being and apparently she did this every night. So, okay.
I got off the bus, walked through the wet and dark and treacherous forest with actual ’80s and ’90s music playing on my iPod all the while, and was home in bed by 04:00. Then up at 09:00, and ready to start a fun day splitting and loading firewood. Actually a pretty easy job with four people and a special log-splitting machine doing the work. It was mostly occasional lifting, and watching my father-in-law struggle and swear good-naturedly at his easy-break chainsaw.
And that was the first half of the weekend.