Friday, August 28, 2009

Finnish Men

Finnish men are a taciturn lot. It's true, they are really fluent at keeping silent in two language. It used to be Finnish and Swedish, now it's Finnish and English. An outgoing Finnish man would be considered introverted anywhere else in the world. I have met talkative Finns, it's when they've had several cases of beer and I have gotten used to the general lack of conversation. Finns believe that silence is golden, and they will inform you of how much you talk when you talk too much. They love their personal space and are good at all sport that does not require other people to play with and is life endangering (with the exception of ice-hockey), these are such things as Formula 1 racing, Cross- country skiing, marathon running in the middle of winter, Motorcross racing etc.

They take everything seriously, even when really drunk, they seldom will say or do something they do not mean. When they get to that point, it is the point of passing out. When you ask them a question, they will think about it for a long time before answering (sometimes as long as 20 minutes in a running conversation) and the answer will be very detailed and accurate -try asking for directions in Finland, you'll see what I mean- or they will simply refuse to answer because they don't have the time to think of the right one.

Finns do not believe there is such a thing as an uncomfortable silence. It is a good thing to learn. It is better to have someone with nothing better to say to shut up and to babble on.

Potential Boyfriend names:

Notice anything? They are all 2 syllables, usually with a repetition of one letter. I was joking with a Finnish friend that all the male names sound kind of the same... he smacked me on the head and pointed out that I was always getting the name of the fortress island (Suomilinna) with the name of this special shot (Salmari). Anyway, Finnish is an impossibly difficult language to learn but with very straight forward pronunciation. The syllables sound the way they look.

Four insights into Finnish Culture

Finnish Dogs
They are rather furry, generally well behaved, and do not bark. TBH, I didn't see that many around.

Finnish Driving
Finland has some of the best Formula One drivers in the world. Finnish men know how to drive, they all rode their first moped when they turned 8, and I have heard stories of little boys being made to drive little go carts or motorcycles on a track even when they have barely learnt to walk. If your riding with a Finn, you can trust your life with him. I was half asleep on Jukka's motorbike (the upper half), and I'm still alive. In all Scandinavia, the fines are according to your income, after tax, so the richer you are, the more you are taxed. But it doesn't really matter because no one speeds anyway. They drive at the speed limit because it's the speed limit. They won't cross the road even if there are no cars going by because the light hasn't turned green.

However, all rules go to shit when they are having a race. (I saw this on Top Gear, no shit) A group of Finns, including housewives, teenage girls, a retired old men and a little boy who has just grown tall enough to see over the dashboard take battered old cars from the 70's into the forest and have a race. The teenage girl beat one of the regular English drivers on Top Gear. 

Finnish Theft
HUH? You don't even have to be afraid of the homeless drug addict lurking around in the park (unless it's the rapist park... apparently one of them in Helsinki has been dubbed exactly that). In Finland, and actually the rest of Scandinavia, everyone believes in making their own way in life, through honest means. It's so pervasive you start worrying if you are being as equal and honest with them as they are with you. Anyway theft is not necessary, the government is rich enough to take care of everyone, and anyway, Finland is not a materialistic society. Everyone is either comfortable or moderately rich.

How to meet Him.
Good luck! I mean it. Finland, like most rich, atheistic, Western societies has a population with a high rate of casual partners, and you can guess how that happens despite the guys seemingly painful shyness for most of the week, with the exception of Fridays and Saturdays. All men are easy when they are drunk enough not to be self-conscious, and the Finns will drink till they are boderline comatose so they can approach a girl (I met two guys on the boat from Stockholm to Helsinki who told this to me as a reason why Finnish males drink so damn much). But don't worry, he'll buy his own drinks, you just have to wait till 4 a.m. before advancing.

There is also the slow and steady way. Finns really appreciate friendships that will last, and if you have the time, you should take your time to get to know some Finnish guys over an extended period. Just ask them out here and there for a case of beer, or two, and sooner rather than later, you'll get what you want. But you have to look very closely for the signs that show he is interested, because it's subtle. Really fucking subtle. And you will have to make the first move. Don't expect a Finnish guy to call you or ask you out, he won't, even if he really wants to. With the exception of the times when he is drunk, it is 4 in the morning, and you're asleep.

Tips for the date
All Scandinavia is an equal society and everyone pays their own way. The men will buy a drink or two for the girls, but at a dinner, everyone pays their fair share. The women wouldn't have it any other way.

Finns are punctual, a 2 minute delay to them is late, but they are also very patient and well-tempered. And unlike Germany (with the exception of Bavaria, as I have realized) some rules can be broken if it makes everyone happier, or if it makes sense. He will tell you to hurry up, and you should, but nobody will get angry as long as you inform in advance.

A Finn will not hit on you, even when he is really drunk, and even then he might not do so. So if at the end of the date, you would want something more, you have to make it obvious. You know how all French men assume you would sleep with them if you go out on a date? Finns are the exact opposite. The only time he will hit on you is when you are in his bedroom. And even then.

If however you do not make it to that stage, he will give you a detailed description of the most optimal route you should take to get home, along with details of the length of time you will take to walk it. On weekends, this would be a description of the night bus, and he will find out the time table for you on his blackberry.

What you should know about Finland
 Finns love their country and they know a lot of contemporary details about it (especially concerning Formula One racing), but not a great deal of historical stuff. The first thing I learnt about Finland after Nokia was what a fantastic guy Kimi Räikkönen was, this was accompanied by You Tube videos of the guy falling off the roof of his yacht drunk on champagne. The second thing is that the landscape is all lakes and that it is the country that is the world's top supplier of ice-breakers.

In all of Scandinavia, the sale of alcohol is controlled by the state and you can only purchase hard liquor outside bars at the Alko store, but beer and long drinks (a Finnish invention) are sold at supermarkets. No alcohol is sold after nine, and the Alko is closed on weekends.

Impressing his mother
 Finnish moms are cool. They ride motorbikes, cook good food and drink beer. It's an egalitarian society, an on top of that, most Scandinavians don't understand racism. People are people whatever the age, or colour, and you'll be treated like a friend and offered lots of beer.

Finnish girl competition
You're more likely to make friends with one than compete. All the girls will end up hanging around together complaining about how the men never talk, and how to get them to talk. Most likely, all the chicks will gang up to try and get the guys drunk faster. The girls are all feminized (Finland after all has the 2nd female president after New Zealand) and there is a genuine feeling of 'Hey sister' vibe when you hang out.

When you want him to go away.
Finns are practical, and they know it when something is not right. You don't have to do anything, in fact nothing needs to be said. The right solution will happen. Finns think everyone else is talking too much about how they feel and they feel this is unnecessary. Why say something or ask questions to something that is already apparent? In Finland, many things happen without a lot of words being said.