‘You take a beer and stand awhile,’ Kari had said earlier, as we loafed beneath an azure sky at the Olympic stadium.
‘Seem a bit lost, as though you’re looking for someone,’ he’d continued, one hand fingering his ludicrous beard – one of those twisted, dreadlocked affairs culminating in a plait at chest height. ‘Then a chick just comes to talk to you.’
My eyes had shone with excitement, ears pricked at the divulgence of such esoteric delights. In fact, I rushed to fetch a notepad. This was hot stuff indeed, the absolute flea’s pyjamas of a secret. You know, I’d totally forgotten about this role reversal of the “cold approach” in Finland.
‘Don’t be too hasty with your beer,’ Kari had advised, as I’d scribbled furiously, hoping to goodness that my truck wouldn’t need moving for at least ten minutes. ‘And of course the next beer is on the chick.’ Yes, naturally, I thought. And she’s bound to be a supermodel too, blessed with scintillating curves?
So here I am, debonair and lost-looking at the Storyville Jazz Club in Central Helsinki. My chum, Ted, accompanies me as a makeshift wingman, eager to witness the cavalcade of stunners that will shortly be overwhelming me.
Ah, sadly, there is a distinct paucity of pretty girls in here, and I’ve possibly fallen at the first hurdle by ordering wine instead of beer. But surely this is just nit-picking? I’m gently nursing my beverage (as instructed) and duly enacting the air of an unsure, windswept foreigner. It’s only a matter of time, surely.
Ooh, wait for it, wait for it. Lo and behold, I’m being approached…by a Norwegian giant in her fifties. She’s soused to the gills, stumbling uncertainly in the direction of my lap.
‘Don’t take the first girl,’ Kari had warned, lending a degree of calculated menace to the proceedings. ‘You are too easy like that. And you won’t get any beer.’ Crikey, this really is a science, then.
The object of the exercise is not just a jolly chat, but both alcohol and sex? He stroked his comedy beard and consulted with his pal, Tatu, who nodded knowledgably. ‘You need beer and a chick,’ he had said with unwavering earnestness.
Well, for starters, the approaching abomination is not so much a chick as a harbinger of catastrophe. And secondly, she isn’t even Finnish. But she’s awfully keen.
After clearing a bout of emphysema – coughing coquettishly whilst perched on my knee – she points out her husband at the bar. ‘Twenty-four years we’ve been married,’ she slurs, and pops her tongue down my throat while I was asking her to get off. The husband gives a cheery thumbs-up.
This experiment doesn’t seem to be going terribly well..