Maybe the “tastemakers” that be (for some reason comprised of people that work for what’s left of Vogue) ought to have waited just a hair longer to blow the lid off what kalsarikänni meant. Considering Americans aren’t one for taking the time to glean what might be the cultural customs and traditions of other countries, apparently content to keep their head in the sand that lies between two hamburger buns, the media outlets could have held their horses on meting out the “titillating” information that Finnish people have a practice called kalsarikänni, the literal translation being something akin to “underwear intoxication.” Meaning they’re unembarrassed about staying at home dressed in their skivvies whilst drinking, usually vodka, which the Finnish have been too often outshined by the Russians with in terms of the stereotypes regarding affection for the drink.
Venla had long been a practitioner of what became popularized in 2018 (though Vogue likes to remind that it brought the trend up as early as 2017) as the catchier version of the term, päntsdrunk, started to be bandied throughout the internet after a book called Päntsdrunk: Kalsarikänni: The Finnish Path to Relaxation was published. It was heralded as yet another part of “Scandi” life. Scandalous indeed to those who found it “decadent” to resist the imposed “party” culture of city living in the U.S., expecting its denizens to go right out after work and get wasted in order to be able to cope with the same fuckery the next day. But the true decadence, anyone shrewd could see, was countering the so-called temptation of being lured into a public space with the false promise of having a good time. The Finns, with their customs in contrast to this practice of trying to find others to mitigate the proverbial loneliness, knew that you were born alone and you died alone, and you might as well get used to that state in between. Enjoy it all the more by learning how to be with yourself. Unabashed.
Suddenly, after this sanction of drinking alone rocked the internet, everyone wanted to stay at home in their underwear and get shit-faced independently before they knew that would be pretty much the only option in 2020. You see, the enjoyment of something really does matter based on whether it’s a forced activity or not. An activity sprung from desperation as opposed to willingness. With the lone “choice” in the year of corona being to stay at home and get plastered as you watch the parlor walls called “any given streaming service,” it feels now only sad and impossibly hopeless to be relegated to the once “chic” practice of kalsarikänni.
Well, everyplace outside of Finland, that is, where life continued on as mostly normal throughout the year thanks to the efficacy of social governing and long-standing sustainable soft infrastructures. So yeah, Venla continued to drink, heavily. In her recently purchased Fenty x Savage lingerie. Because she believed in the occasional support of capitalism if it meant fortifying Rihanna’s business aspirations. Plus, she enjoyed making herself look sexualized for the sole purpose of languidly drinking vodka from a shot glass. It had an air of sophistication that could never be achieved in the U.S., and she honestly didn’t know why Americans tried to bother imitating the Finnish when it couldn’t be done. Least of all when the quality of life in said country was among the worst in the world.
She downed another shot as she laughed to herself. Oh how glorious it was to be on one’s own as the world outside grew colder and darker. All while she felt warmth and illumination from the romantic candlelight of her apartment in Ullanlinna, where she was judged by friends for living in such a “tourist trap.” Not that anything attracted tourists anymore. One great thing about the world right now: the riffraff was marooned. Their hands were tied behind their back and they could be strung up permanently at any moment if things kept continuing as they were (which they would). Hog-tied Americans finally getting a taste of the medicine they gave to their own disgusting meat products. Venla laughed as she gazed at herself in the mirror. At first, it was genuine, but then it was to practice to see what she looked like. Trying on different expressions as the guises that they were. Happy one second, fake crying the next. That was the “human condition.” Except that Finnish people famously cannot cry. They are born without tear ducts and they’re better for it.
Venla moved closer to the mirror to stare at herself, caressing the reflection of her face before going back into the kitchen for a refill. She spun around on her way toward the kitchen counter, though there was no music playing except the song in her head, The Cardigans’ “Carnival.” It matched the fanciful mood she was in as she kept fortifying her good will with hard liquor. No, she couldn’t possibly imagine anyone from another country enjoying the full weight of what it meant to drink alone in your lingerie. Yes, the Americans and the British most especially would only look like sad, pale, fat sacks just sitting in their own filth with a barley-based alcohol in hand, trying to pass it off as joie de vivre. And everyone knows you can’t intermix French cliches with lesser known Finnish ones like kalsarikänni.
Once upon a time, it had translated only to pathetic when others attempted to emulate the practice, whereas now it was just another synonym for 2020. Not in Venla’s bubble called Finland, where life went on with almost stark raving normalcy. A nominal 358 deaths and 16,000ish cases. Of course, New Zealand liked to trumpet its own horn by acting “scandalized” over having almost 2,000 cases and 25 deaths. Well, fuck them. They didn’t drink enough to make it understandable how they could live in such desolation with little else to have sex with except the sheep. Which they did, soberly.
Speaking of, Venla was due for a little self-love by this portion of the evening. One thing they left out in all those articles about päntsdrunk was that you didn’t end up keeping your panties on for very long when you were drunk and alone, and it was only a matter of time before your hand made its way downward. You know, the same direction every country in the world has been going for decades except Finland.