City Paper is not for tourists
Yesterday evening, I ate Finnish fish and drank Finnish vodka in a transparent Finnish building. I sat with three Americans. One worked for the world’s largest newspaper. Another practiced architecture. A third was acquainted with my co-worker. One of the three disliked fish. Two of the three were affiliated with a club which provided them free tacos on Friday evenings with the purchase of a
$1.25 $2.50 Corona. I am not affiliated with this club.
The American who disliked fish left the table momentarily to acquire more non-fish Finnish food. An older man sat down. The man hailed from Finland.
“What is reality television like in Finland?” I asked the man. I had previously declined the opportunity to ask the man from Finland about reality television, and since then, had become preternaturally interested in the topic.
“Reality television is the same in Finland as it is in America,” the man from Finland reported. “I do not like reality television,” he added, “as the morals seem to come from–“ he paused strangely–“Somewhere else.” I suspected the man from Finland was referencing the questionable morals of reality television produced in the United States. I sipped from my Finnish vodka. I was satisfied.
Earlier, the man from Finland had given a speech pertaining to Finland. He had stood at a podium and had spoken to a crowd of dozens. “The javelin throw is a classic Finnish sport,” the man had explained. “This house is a transparent house,” he had added. A slide-show had run, featuring scenes from Finland. The man had referenced popular American late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien. He had then fielded questions on Finland.
The American who worked for the world’s largest newspaper had leaned toward me. “Ask him what reality television is like in Finland,” the man had suggested. Though the topic had interested me, I had declined.
The American who disliked fish returned to find his seat occupied by the Finnish man. The American stood with his plate of non-fish Finnish food until a tuxedoed man procured him a new chair. The American who disliked fish practiced architecture, and appreciated the transparent building in which he was re-seated.
“We do have one reality television program that I enjoy,” the man from Finland continued. “It is based on survival.”
“Is it like Survivor?” I asked him.
“No,” replied the man from Finland.
Shortly, a man (also from Finland) approached the podium and informed the crowd of dozens that we would all be receiving a medium-sized bag of Finnish tokens upon our departure. The tokens included men’s facial lotion and a modest bottle of Finnish vodka. “I have not tried the lotion, but I hear it works,” said the man. “I have tried the vodka,” he added. “It works.” The bag also included two pamphlets pertaining to Finland. “When you report back on this event tomorrow, please reference this literature,” the man finished.
I am perhaps the only person who will report on this event, I thought.
As we left, the American who was acquainted with my coworker bid me farewell. “When you next see your coworker,” she said, “Please trip him for me.”
“I will not trip him, but I will tell him that you said hello,” I replied.
I glanced back at the Embassy of Finland. Somewhere inside, the Ambassador of Finland remained, though I could no longer see him. The building was not so transparent after all.