A 100% fictional portrait (‘painted’ by a 100% fictional character)

Written and published on an older blog in March, 2013

My name is Jacques. I was born in Helsinki and I am a suomi. Well, maybe not by my first name. If you wonder about it, you will probably come to the solution at the second thought. Yes, my mother was French. I don’t know what she thought about when she insisted giving me a name, which is pronounced by many of my fellow suomi men and women as “jakku “, meaning, yes, correct, a jacket or a coat. Well, you might say there is nothing to it, but at some point at school I started thinking that something was odd when in I wasn’t greeted by a “Hey, ‘jacket’, where’s your jacket?”, “Oh, our ‘coat’ has a new jacket!” etc.

My mother’s name was Isabelle. My father, Matti, is suomi and up to this day he didn’t marry again after Isabelle left. We never say she passed away. We always say that she left us when I was ten. And when we see a shocked face, my father and I say in one voice: “To a better place”. It is hilarious to see what happens to a person who hears us saying this for the first time. The face shows often an interesting mixture of awkwardness at the misunderstanding, relief that there was no cruelty involved from a mother, apology for being so impolite and guilty of thinking such a thing of a most probably loving mother, and sadness for a father and son left without indulging love of a woman and a mother.

My father was always a rebel. Isabelle looked and was nothing like an ideal suomi girl. She was too fashionable, too spoiled and too fragile. The latter made her ‘fade’ and die too fast like a tropical flower brought to Alaska and forgotten outside.

But Matti is definitely suomi, with his quirky, dry sense of humor – it was his idea to say that his wife left him, – and with him being absolutely reliable. He never missed a single game of my ice-hockey team, even if it was a mere training and wasn’t an actual game. Our neighbors thought for a long time that I was playing for at least five teams in parallel, by having so many games a week. Matti sat with me through all of the life or leg saving treatments in the ER, where I happened to be a frequent guest, partly because I mimicked fearlessness of my father and was therefore very ‘headless’, as Matti likes calling me, and partly because I inherited the gentle health from my mother. At least my bones have done just that.

This strange mixture makes Matti and me different, also in the way we relate to speech and feelings. My father, as a man, and more so as a suomi man, has a big difficulty to talk not only about feelings, but to say more than three sentences in half or often also for the whole hour. I am in contrast a river of words, especially, when I talk about feelings. Even suomi girls grow tired of me quite fast.

But there is no other man, who could listen to me as Matti does. Maybe this is due to his quiet nature, but rather it is his endless love to his loved ones and especially to his boy that makes him the first person I reach out to in the saddest and also in the happiest moments. And my guess is that my glamorous, fashionable mother fell for exactly these qualities of his as much as she fell for his glittering blue eyes.