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Love and Finland

What do we know about the Finland?

Better yet, what don’t we know about Finland? I assume they are a hunter/gather culture that eats too many pickled herring and love wearing sweaters. They are probably feel just as good on a pair of skis as riding a reindeer from yurt-to-yurt throughout their frozen socialist paradise. If they are not found with a piece of dried whale blubber in their oversized mustaches, they can be found reading an umlaut-driven pornographic magazine which is harder to read than Klingon. In conclusion, Finland is a land of contradictions. Thank you.

After I wrote that I looked up Finland in Wikipedia and was shocked how much I guessed was correct. Except for the dried whale blubber (Fins prefer dried seal meat), I think I painted a perfectly accurate portrait of the Finnish people. I should know. I had the privilege of waiting on them last night.

They were a tidy group of people. With perfectly cut hair and oversized glasses, no Finnish man could be found at Keys On Main wearing less than four sweaters. I have to imagine when writing the Lord of the Rings trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkien used the Fins as his model for the hobbits. They were all small, furry and they loved draft beer. Also, they didn’t understand the concept of tipping. Just like Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins in The Two Towers stiffing the innkeeper, the Fins didn’t understand that their beers didn’t pour themselves.

There were four of them but only one of them particularly memorable. He was in his mid-50s, covered in sweaters and mustaches and wearing glasses that even Woody Allen would consider to be too garish. For the sake of our story, I’ll call him Adolph. I always assume people from that part of the world are either an Olga or Adolph. Because of our language barrier, he chose to smack the bar with his empty glasses when he needed it refilled. If I wasn’t able to pour a fresh beer in under 3-seconds, he would add the snapping of his fingers and sharp whistles to get my attention. Adolph was an absolute pleasure to wait on.

I didn’t mind his oafish mannerisms because I assumed that it was the first time Adolph and his cronies have ever been to Salt Lake. I guess in some cultures it is completely acceptable to bang pots and pans when communicating with new people. What I didn’t like about Adolph was he must have had eaten too much moose jerky because he was too flatulent. He kept lifting his hind section and ripping a fart that resonated over the noise of the club and blasting pianos. I knew it was moose jerky because Fins love dried meats and the smell wafting throughout the bar had a full rack.

Every story needs a love angle and last night was no exception. Here name was Kay and she was the femme fatale. She was skinny, blonde, wearing a long cut shirt and tight leggings. With the exception of her bucket-head, doughy-dumb eyes and toothpick sized arms, she was stunning. She was the kind of woman that knew her way around the backseat of a stranger’s car. She craved strong drink and the company of a piano player. Unfortunately, her advances were rebuffed thereby leading her to seek the comfort in the arms of the closest member of the European Union.

Adolph would not be denied. Prying her away from his countrymen, he bought bottomless glasses of Bud Light trying to lure her back to his hobbit hotel or a Marriot. I found that the more excited Adolph got in his pursuit of his prey, the more he let go of puffs of putrid gasses from his bottom. Apparently, Finnish farts are some sort of aphrodisiac much like panda ears, rhino horns or JagerBombs because Kay didn’t run to the cover of the open night air. She nestled closer to him taking both his free beer and air biscuits.

I wish I was busier simply because if I had the demands of other guests, I would not have been so focused on the strange mating ritual of the two. He acted like a bird of paradise with his wild gestures, bar slaps, whistles and constant farting. Forget the fact that he was clearly 20+ years older than Kay or he didn’t speak a lick of English or that he was wearing a wedding band, Adolph was in the driver seat with his overt sexual advances. I stood on the other side of them from behind the bar, breathing through a bar towel and wondering how I was going to air out the club at the end of the night (I thought about smoking a cheap cigar to mask the smell of his butt) when Adolph went in for the kill. As the piano players banged out a cover of “Crocodile Rock,” he planted a messy Finnish kiss on her lips.

What the…

I expected Adolph’s glasses to be slapped off his hobbit head or the leggings covering Kay’s knee to be thrusted up into his crotch. Instead of the middle-aged Fin hitting the floor in agonizing groin pain, Kay responded back in ecstasy. She returned his kiss and wrapped her arms around his fully sweatered back.

I am all for love found at the bar but this was ridiculous. While he was well-dressed and financed sufficiently to purchase a baker’s dozen worth of cold, cheap yellow beer, there is no way that she should have been making out with him. I only had two theories why they were playing tonsil hockey at the bar: one, she was a prostitute and hooking knows no language barrier. Two, she was suffering from a mild stroke paralyzing her sense of smell, vision, taste and touch. Whatever the case was I was befuddled as I watched her run her fingers through his bristled hair.

Mercifully, at the height of their passion, a group of customers came storming through the door drawing my attention away from the cross-Atlantic smooshfest. Slinging out drinks to the newcomers, I returned to the bar-slapping Fin who demanded for another round of drinks. Kay had left to go to the lady’s room to presumably to wash her mouth out with turpentine. Instead of Adolph beaming with confidence, something dramatic had changed in his appearance. He had slouched into his bar stool and laid his head on the counter.

I asked if he was okay. All he could do was lift his head, dumbly smile at me and let out a fart that steamed up both of our glasses. Oh dear God, he was drunk. Instead of sharing the night in the arms of a passionate West Valley City resident, he drank too many beers and ate too much moose jerky and was in the final steps of passing out. There would be no love for the Fin. Kay, returning from her Silkwood shower, saw the condition of Adolph and elected to sneak out the front. I was left with the destroyed remains of a Scandinavian who could neither close the deal nor handle our 3.2% beer.

As it always happens, last call came and the bar went to sleep for the night. The bottles were locked up, tables wiped down and floors mopped. Adolph’s friends were able to carry the drunken shell of a wrecked evening out of the bar. I was left with nothing to remember the night except a bar stool that was burned to a crisp due to Adolph rich diet of hooved animals and diluted beer. I sneaked a Miller Lite into my system as I did the money for the evening. I have worked busier nights. I also have worked nights that have left me with more questions than answers. But I have never worked a night that required both blinders and a gasmask. Between the mating ritual between two cultures and the smelly nuances of the Finnish people, I went home to shower the evening off of me and go to bed.

Unlike Portugal or Arizona, I have no problem with Finland. The cultural exchange of watching how they act was both interesting and disturbing to both my nose and eyes. I think after Bradley Cooper, no group of people look better draped in sweaters. I think there was a part of me that was rooting for Adolph. Anytime there is a massive difference between partners, I like it when the uglier one is able to grab the pretty one. It sends a message that no matter how big of a mustache one wears or how often one lets one go with no concern of the others guests that anyone can find love.

If only the Fins could hold their liquor.

Ben Raskin bartends Wednesday through Saturday at Keys On Main. Follow him on Twitter @BennyRaskin. He can still smell Adolph when he closes his eyes.

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About Ben Raskin

Born in El Cajon, raised in Las Vegas, educated in Reno and living in Salt Lake City. I bartend, write, box and live in Sugarhouse UT.

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