Thursday, July 20, 2006

Don Juan in Helsinki: 2

Now there is something else you must know about me--I am terrible at remembering names. Especially if there are lots of consonants in them, because in Finnish we have mostly vowels. Yes, it is true! Finnish is the most vowelly of any Indo-European language. This has been a great problem for me in my professional life, because sometimes one is forced to actually meet with clients in person. For speaking to men there is a marvelous new invention, the word 'dude', when one cannot remember their stupid names. But for women it is more difficult. Obviously, one cannot call them 'dude', particularly if the two of you are having sweet hot squishy sex together at that moment. 'Lady' or 'babe' will not do any more, either, they are both too unfashionable these days. Even if there were an excellent generic term for women it would still be impossible to use it, because women simply require more personal attention than men. They are needier in this way. So I invent private nicknames for them to serve me as mnemonics. The name I invented for my former Japanese lover was 'Day-Glo Plastic Raincoat', because that was what she was wearing when I first met her. Not in a hotel bar, either, but on a public street in front of the Safeway. She stopped me to ask for directions, blushing and clutching her Fodor's guide. It was the blushing that I could not resist; in this I am quite the old-fashioned romantic guy! Of course, being a Finn, I do not blush, myself, I keep too well-tanned for that. For us tanning is not a cosmetic vanity; in a land without sunshine it is a commitment to a fit, healthful ideal of life. Many Finns like myself will even smoke in order to help keep fit and tan.

The problem for me in the flesh with Lady Day-Glo was this: I couldn't understand a word she said! Her English was actually quite good--and mine, as you have noticed is perfect, because I now think in no other language after all these years--but there is something strange about the way the human ear works. In English, Finnish and Japanese perhaps are somehow incompatible together, just as certain radio frequencies will 'jam' each other in the air (by the way, I have made a bet with a friend that I can work the word 'jam' into each entry of this blournal; so you see, now I have! :) But here is the strange thing; once she was back again home in Japan and we were text messaging on the Internet, I discovered much more of interest about her, since I didn't have to actually listen to her voice. For one thing, she was really quite sophisticated. She enjoyed the films of Tarkhovsky and Kaurismaaki and the books of one of my favorite novelists, Haruko Murakami. I belief she even mentioned him in bed once, but because of her accent I thought she was talking about 'Origami'. She was also a very important figure in the Japanese government; she was their expert on Korean and Chinese missile deployment, but in such a way that I, as a creative artist, could deeply respect and even find erotic. As she explained it to me, when she was growing up her older brother was very much into the hobby of building plastic military models, which he imported from all over the world, including such things as aircraft, tanks, and missiles. It was her duty to catalogue and keep separate all the little plastic parts of these for him, which were correct in every detail, even to their tiniest internal components and serial numbers. Thus as a child she acquired an extensive working knowledge of the rockets and missiles of every nation. Later, after the Soviet Union broke up, while she was still at university, she accompanied the government negotiator for the Kamchatka bases to Moscow as his 'secretary'; eventually, she became the head of his ministry department, which is quite an achievement for a woman in a country such as Japan. But you would never think it to look at her; to the naked eye Day-Glo seemed exactly like every other Japanese woman, perhaps even more so.

So I decided that, at long last, this might be the lady for me. Foolishly, this led me to break a long-standing private rule of mine in regard to relationships with women: no 'home-and-away' return engagements! It is exactly the same situation as in an international football match--if Turkey, for example, comes to play in your country at your stadium in front of your fans, then you will likely defeat them quite easily. But if you actually are foolish enough to go to Turkey to play, then they will insult you, bribe the referee, tear up the pitch, and you will be lucky to escape home again with your life! But at the time this did not occur to me, because the Japanese are such polite people. One would never expect such behavior from them. So it was with high hopes that I booked my flight from Honolulu to Tokyo on JAL. One of the many delightful reasons to fly first class is that the section is usually almost empty; not so on this flight, however. I was forced to sit next to a Japanese New Age synthesizer musician and composer who was on a solo world tour. I have forgotten his name, because it contained a lot of consonants, but he was really very successful, especially in all of Asia, where he would often sell out concerts in front of 100,000 fans, but here in America he could only get booked in the foyer of the Tower Records in LA. Anyhoo, this fellow was either terrified of flying or terrified of germs, I could never discover which one. Whatever the reason, he had covered himself completely in a huge plastic sheet of the sort that is used to protect dry-cleaning and had cello-taped the top of it around the little air-conditioning nipple in the ceiling overhead, so that he was completely encased. He then crouched inside it for the next ten hours or so like a dead insect, refusing all contact with the flight crew or anyone else, for that matter; from time to time he would eat a candy bar or sip from a bottle of Evian water he kept under the seat. Just before we landed that evening I saw him urinating into the empty bottle. And this man was not even so very famous--you can imagine what it is like to travel with a real celebrity!

I cannot describe Japan very well because it was raining. Lady Day-Glo lived in a house in the suburbs that was not even particularly Japanese-looking. In fact, it could have been any ranch-style bungalow in California; there were even rainbow decals in the windows. As a Finn, I am always particularly sensitive to personal architecture, just as I am tuned as if mystically to the many moods of women. The moment she greeted me at the door, I knew something was terribly wrong. It was as if she was a stranger. 'It is my mother,' she told me when I asked her about her coldness a few days later, after there still was no hot bonking between us. 'My brother did not want her, so she has come to live with me. I cannot bear to put her in a nursing home, so I really have no choice. But she is very old-fashioned--if you and I are to be together here, we must be married first.'

'Whoa!' I said. 'Married?' I had sincerely felt I might be ready for some form of committed relationship, at least by long-distance, but marriage? Whoa! Back off, baby. Way too much pressure, LOL! 'Why didn't you tell me this when we were together in Hawaii?'

'In Hawaii I was a much different person. I was on holiday.' She pronounced this as 'horriday'; for me, that was a 'horrid day' indeed, I can tell you!

But at least for me the trip was not a total waste of time. In Osaka I signed a strategic agreement with Moen Japan to license the 'Dohonjin' line of custom fixtures ('Dohon' is how the Japanese pronounce my name; they cannot say 'Donho'). This is the first of my designs ever to be mass-produced; I understand it is particularly popular with wealthy unmarried businessmen and lesbians, and has proved to be a very welcome addition to the Likkanen revenue stream! And on the flight home I was privileged to rejoin the 'mile-high club' with a very drunken Mexican lady celebrating a divorce, which I understand is still a noted event in her culture. She was not quite as young as I had first thought, but this was an overnight flight and so the lighting was flattering, especially in the toilet mirror. And besides, I was still feeling a bit hurt.

OK, I must go to bed now--truly.

Next: I will podcast live from my flight!


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