В Сибири одна часть русского населения окает, а другая акает.
I have been busy!
Now I live in a kommunal apartment now and don’t have any viffy.
M. decided to spend the entire remainder of her vacation by herself in Turku. M. is from the Midwest, which I think somehow explains this. It had nothing to do with her being sick of us.
A., R., and I, anyway, got the bus back to Helsinki. There, we were issued hilariously shoddy temporary passports (the photographs are somehow blurry, vertically distorted, and green) and killed yet another day before fleeing the country. We took out our vague feelings of hostility upon an eight-euro all-you-can-eat buffet in a Thai restaurant—I’ve never consumed so many pounds of wonton—from which we were eventually asked to leave. Then what? There was a long shower; we watched American sitcoms in our hostel room; A. persisted in her attempts to “pick up” the Finnish language. “I think that suohiyatattulannihetti might be a verb!”
In the morning, A. and R. made a mad dash to buy reindeer jerky—for some reason we’d been too busy killing time for the previous week to do this—before we caught a ferry to Tallinn. If you’ve never taken a ferry across a frozen ocean, I do recommend it. The ice creaks, shatters, sloughs into the black vacancies freed from snow-cover; the hull destroys that flat frozen surface by its steady pressure. You can hear the wail of the icepack cracking with every inch by which you near your destination.
Onboard the ferry, children are aggressively entertained by paid entertainers. In America, such posts exist only at the most upper-crusty of bar mitzvahs, but for some reason young Slavs are incapable of passing an hour without the assistance of a twenty-something woman, resplendent in striped stockings and some sort of tutu. She invariably has glittery barrettes affixed to each half of her pigtailed wig, and a wireless headset that broadcasts her demands to the entire ship, mall, or city park: “CHILDREN WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO WE ARE GOING TO DANCE TO THIS MUSIC WE ARE GOING TO DANCE AND SING WHO LIKES TO DANCE WE ALL LOVE TO DANCE AND SING ALL TOGETHER NOW CHILDREN WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO.” This sequined tyrant enables parents to ignore their own children entirely.
The dance-leader, I think, represents the bastardized byproduct of two opposed strains in childrearing. There’s something gross about the American conviction that children have to be paid attention to all the time, and I appreciate the European inclination to shuffle off to parts unknown anyone too young to appreciate espresso and cognac. The Russian family somehow exceeds Americans in their devotion to children—have you ever seen a Russian toddler being dressed to leave the house? it takes four people a year—while maintaining a healthily un-American respect for the poisonous fruits of adulthood (cigarettes, vodka, sex appeal). The Russian child must somehow maintain his unimpeachable place in the center of attention, while enabling everyone to relax and get adultly drunk during their ferry ride. Ergo the kiddie disco.