Snus, Drugs and Alcohol.
Saturday in Oulu had everything except for the drugs. I don’t really know where to begin this story so I’ll start at the end. This story ends with me taking a shower and then passing out on my bed, before I could write. 4:47am.
Before I begin this story I have to apologize to a wonderful Finnish woman who was the reason everyone got together that night. We know what we did and we are sorry. Anteeksi, Förlåt, Entschuldigung, извините, 對不起, Sorry.
I had just come from a Karaoke Bar somewhere in Oulu where I was intending to bring the Bieber, the Justin Bieber, to the city of Oulu. I strongly believed that Justin Bieber was a hero in Finland but it turns out Finland has its own stars. It was in this small karaoke bar, that will remain unnamed, that I encountered a group of Finland’s brightest stars: the Scandinavian Music Group. To be honest I had no idea who they were. But I was with their biggest fan and the group wanted her to go and meet them. Alcohol and Snus make Finnish people very insistent and people started to pour the peer pressure on.
It is very unFinnish to approach a stranger. Even more unFinnish to approach the celebrities.
I am not Finnish.
I was given a pen and paper to get an autograph and pointed in the direction of the Scandinavian Music Group. This is not something I normally do and only the cheers and the desire to make someone happy was sisu-ing my legs forward. The alcohol and my first time trying Swedish Snus could also have helped. Snus is a tobacco, that is only legally allowed to be sold in Sweden. It is the equivalent of smoking 8 cigarettes. It is essentially a tobacco teabag that you put in your mouth. I believe this is where the term teabagging came from.
These are the Snus brothers Jarkko and Heikki who gave me my first Snus.
Anyway, as I made my way over to the other-side of the bar I was keenly aware of the many tattoos, giants and beards around me. The Scandinavian Music Group table kind of reminded me of a pirate motorcycle gang. I found it weird that these people would be famous in Finland but Finland does love it’s heavy metal. It was too late to turn back and I said “excuse me.”
This is when I met my first Gypsy. Many Gypsies. Apparently I walked past the very obviously Finnish, Scandinavian Music Group and into a den of Gypsies. I did not notice my group stop laughing. I did not notice the giant named Heikki get up and walk across half the bar to stand behind me. I did not notice the confusion in the Gypsies’s faces when I asked for their autographs.
I did feel the tension in the air change as the giant gypsy closest to me asked mitä? I did not want to be me at that moment. The Gypsies started discussing something in Finnish. It did not sound happy. FinnishFinnishFinnishGypsyGermanFinnishmitämitämitämitämitämitämitä. That is what I heard.
Thankfully earlier in the day I played blackjack in the bar with one of gypsies sitting at the table. I had listened as he rambled on about luck and seating position and gambling. He recognized me and told the giant beside him to sign the paper, handed it to me and said goodbye. As I walked back to the group, Heikki came over to me and said “what the *&^%! You went to the wrong table. I walked over here because I was scared they were going to knife you.”
When I arrived back with my group I noticed the Scandinavian Music Groups’ biggest fan had disappeared. She had gone home upset and I felt terrible. I was going to fix this somehow. The SMG went up to sing some karaoke and I waited for them to Finnish before I introduced myself. Wrong guy. He pointed me at the right group and I introduced myself again.
I met Joel who was an extremely personable and immediately likeable person. He introduced me to his friends which included Terhi and Pauliina, along with a couple of beautiful and friendly companions he was with. We talked for a little bit and then it was my groups turn to sing so I excused myself and joined Antti of Oulu, Mikko of Oulu, Heikki of Posio and Marjo of Supermario to sing “I don’t want to miss a thing.” The Karaoke bar was situated in a way that the background music couldn’t really be heard from the microphone. We’re not professional singers and having to sing acapella does not help. Thankfully Joel helped us out by singing along.
After the song, outside the bar, I explained the situation to him about the Gypsies and my friend leaving upset and he decided to help me out by writing a message on the same paper I had gotten a Gypsy Autograph.
I never knew of the Scandinavian Music Group before this night but am now a fan. I knew you as people before I knew you for your music. Just like we talked about outside a mysterious Karaoke bar in Oulu, if you guys are ever in Vancouver, you’ll have at least one friend.
To strangers: who are just friends we haven’t met yet!