I admit I had my doubts about going out to celebrate my sister Terhi’s 40th birthday with her and her friends. Granted, I wasn’t the youngest – Terhi’s class mate from the nursing school is a year younger than me – but I was worried the conversation would revolve mostly around their kids and their lives as a part of a couple. And, as I told them too, there are few things more horrible than a bunch of drunk 40-something women… Apart from drunk 50-something women.
It wasn’t that bad, in the end, except for the end. I’ll get to that, don’t you worry. We started the evening with some drinks and munchies (and let me tell you, that Baileys-cheesecake was heavenly) and before long, took our party to the ‘city’. The city in question in the centre of Lappeenranta, a 60 000 inhabitant town in Eastern Finland; the place where I grew up. I haven’t been to a pub crawl in Lappeenranta for at least ten years, so it was… educational. I suppose I should be grateful the pub with the karaoke was dead quiet and karaoke-less.
We went to three or four places before ending up at that place, and here’s what I learned. Or re-learned. It’s been a while. I don’t like drinking in pubs; it’s impossible to have a conversation with more than one person at a time because of the music and noise. In this case, I had little enough to discuss with anyone, so I sipped my cider and looked at the people.
Lappeenranta has two major species of young female: the fake blonde and the fake black hair. There’s a small minority of natural or toned brunettes; these tend to dress in homey clothes, muted colours and cardigans. The males come in four varieties. The vast majority of them look like middle-aged lumberjacks; these specimens still think it’s cool to wear a flannel shirt and pale blue jeans; they should not be mistaken for the variant of technical university hipsters, who might, in passing, adopt parts of the style. The hipsters come mostly in ironic tee, heavy glasses and cardigans variety; some of them might be actual nerds. The most distinguished group are the rockabilly boys who are in disproportionately large number in Lappeenranta. They wear that high hairstyle and clothing variants from the lumberjack to the 50’s country artist. The last specimen is the biker; usually bald, fancy beard optional, leather vest a must.
One zombie spotted. Unfortunately I had no camera with me, but we did exchange friendly arrrrrrrrrghs with her.
In my first touch at the local bar scene, I avoided contact with the locals, but I did observe the mating habits. The general guide to proper social conduct is one of the following two options: get shit-faced and advance at anything sporting the signals of the opposite sex with loud remarks, group hugs and wandering hands. Or, try to look cool, manage at best desperate, while standing at the sidelines, hoping to catch the eye of a member of the opposite sex. Until you get roaring wasted and graduate to the first group.
Growl or a guttural grunt pass for ”pardon me”. An actual apology should be taken as an insult, as it is an implication that the elbow in your ribs was actually your fault. It is an appropriate and socially acceptable norm to end up throwing up, falling down the stairs (or off the chair, should you not manage to find downward-winding stairs), passing out in any convenient place (floor, table, sofa, bus, road, any horisontal or vertical surface, other people), making loud racist remarks, and so on. Should you be so lucky, feel free to put up a slobbery soft porn show anywhere you find a willing partner or the opposite sex, or, if you’re a female, making out with a girlfriend is also acceptable as long as it’s the means to attract the attention of the opposite sex. For males, this behaviour spells suicide.
Up to this point it was actually kind of funny to tag along and look at people, mostly, making fools of themselves and pouring perfectly good money down their throats. And, perhaps encouraged by the small trauma levels of the previous establishments, I foolishly allowed myself to be taken to that place.
A dance restaurant, complete with a mediocre cover song trio on stage. Old Finnish goldies, awkward, silent men prowling the masses of 40-something women for a dance partner. The old boys, divorceés and widows hope to make contact with females; some probably simply go there for the dancing, but a large part of them does the senior version of the mating habits described above; they drink steadily till they can sway unsteadily to their chosen partner, tap them on the shoulder, avoid eye contact and, in case of a willing match, sway their way to the dance floor. There were largely three or four dance variants: those who were actually good; those who were too drunk to stay on their feet (the dance floor is fenced off for them to tastefully bounce off something instead of falling on the fellow drinkers in a mess of arms and legs) and largely tried to grab pleasurably soft parts of their dance partners; those who danced rigidly and silently and avoided eye contact.
My turquoise hair, I believe, was an effective heat repellent, but I made sure to glower at anyone who took a chance to wander too close. I can’t dance to save my life – will more likely endanger others’ – and while I would like to learn, a drunk, middle-aged lecher is just not the way I roll. I believe I lasted about 40 minutes, maximum, before I decided I’ll be buggered to wait for a ride home and will just brave the Friday evening bus crowd just to save myself from the red velvet daytime dance ball torture. Besides, I thought I might’ve been bringing the party down by my obvious snobbish distaste for such activities.
Lappeenranta was kind enough to offer a summery depicted on this post on the bus on my way home: most specimens were nicely presented in the fellow passengers. We had the fake blonde with her fake black-haired friend, the technical university hipster nerd, the biker-wannabe (a real biker would obviously ride his bike), the puking boy, the natural brunette with her tart-head, sorry, rockabilly boyfriend. It’s a good thing I still have nine years to go before I join the ranks of terrifying 40-something ladies; I’ll have time to grown into the idea…