09 October 2006

The Soap Pig

This past weekend was Oulu’s Irish Festival. I know there are people who prefer the air guitar competition or the garlic festival or the wife-carrying contest--all regular events here in Oulu--but I was really looking forward to hearing some Irish music. Then I learned that one of my mentors at the university plays the fiddle in a group that was scheduled to perform on Saturday night at the Nuku Center, keskusta. Nirvana, I thought to my self. No, not that Nirvana. This group is called The Soap Pig.

I put it on my list of things to do. Unfortunately, 7:00 on a Saturday night is not wonderful timing for me. I partake of The Mysterious Rites of Sauna at 5:00, and by the time I have recovered, it is hard to prepare dinner, consume it, clean up, and then get out of the flat in time to be anywhere by 7:00. I thought I was doing pretty well to be on my bike and heading across the footbridge at 7:05. (And I noticed, by the way, that it was already getting dark, an ominous development.)

I got to the Nuku center at 7:15, fully confident that I could talk my way into the concert. Trust me, I have done this before. This time, it was no dice. A very nice but firm centurioness told me in no uncertain terms that it is very distracting for the musicians to have late-comers stumbling and groping their way to their seats. I confessed that I am a serial stumbler, but I promised not to grope anyone in the process. And I explained that in the States, there's always at least one person who arrives late for the very purpose of stumbling and groping while his kännykä plays "Stars and Stripes Forever" at full volume. She smiled one of those enigmatic little Finnish smiles, but then she folded her arms across her chest. The place was jammed, she said, and there were virtually no seats left. “Virtually,” of course is one of those weasel words. It means that there actually are seats left, but you’d have to find them, and that brought us back full circle. Anyway, she said that after the group had played its set, The Soap Pig would be heading to a nearby pub to jam with other musicians. I should just find some way of killing the next hour and a half. I didn’t want to spell it out for her, but 9:00 encroaches rather seriously on my bed time.

On a scale of one to ten, I thought my sweet-talking rated about an 8.5, maybe more. I think she might have been willing to go to the senior prom with me, but there was no way she was letting me into that concert. Another lesson in the Finnish fixation with punctuality, and maybe also in sisu.

Click on the title of this post for a pertinent link.