Is that a party in your pants?

Kirjoittaja on New Yorkissa varttunut ja Helsingissä naisistunut copywriter.

Dear Mom,

Yay! It’s Saturday night and we’ve got a babysitter coming so we can go out with friends. All I have to do now is take a shower, find something to wear, and come up with the lie I’ll tell people when they ask why I’m not drinking.

And before you even ask, yes, it is crazy that a 40-year-old woman has to lie to her 40-year-old friends about why she doesn’t want to spend Saturday night getting wasted, but that’s the way it is. Because in Finland, it’s a bigger problem to not drink than it is to be an alcoholic.

I could quote you all kinds of boring statistics, but the fact of the matter is that here, people drink to get drunk. And drinking isn’t always a social event. On weekends when your babysitter is unavailable (probably because she’s out drinking), it’s no problem because you can just stay at home and get “underwear drunk”. Talk about having a party in your pants…

It’s funny how the definition of different social conditions can be so, well, different. Here, I know lots of people who have spent the night at the city’s sobering station, ironically located at the Töölö sports hall, but I don’t know anyone who has ever been to rehab. In other parts of the world, your friends and family would surprise you with a professional intervention if they ever caught you drinking in your underwear.

So why the big difference? The Finns’ attribute their love of alcohol to lots of things – everything from shyness to low self-esteem caused by hundreds of years under Swedish rule to the weather. And they do that because that’s what addicts do – they use every excuse in the book to justify their addiction. And, as it is with all addicts, you’re either with them or fuck you.

So, on that note, I really should start to get ready. And as for tonight’s lie, since my friends all know I’m not planning on having any more kids, I guess I’ll just go with “I’m taking medication my doctor said causes psychosis when taken with alcohol.” My guess is they’ll say: “Drink enough and you won’t even notice.” God knows they won’t.

Love, Lissu