I love Tallinn. It’s ancient and modern at the same time. The people are cultured and willing to forgive me for being a stupid American. In fact, an Estonian friend recently gave me the option of being an apprentice Estonian, which I took as a compliment—even though I am and will always be a child of Southern California. Represent.
But after 14 hours of work—writing, teaching, promoting my business, applying to ESL instructor positions—I feel the need for a beer. That’s good. Estonia is deeply in love with beer of all kinds. Unfortunately, the country is also deeply in love with rules—specifically, the rule that no beer is sold after 22:00 (that’s 10 PM for all you yank readers) in stores. Alright, so the intrepid internet laborer who loses all sense of time must go to a bar if it’s 22:27, which it is.
Naturally, in moments like this, I invoke my Irish ancestry and pray to St. Patrick to leave me the fuck alone so Satan can find me the worst, most decadent drinking establishment in Tallinn. I wind up drinking in St. Patrick’s pub in Old Town. It’s okay—fairly standard Irish format with a jovial Irish manager slinging drinks and several nymph-like Estonian waitresses who don’t know how to make a half-and-half. So okay. I can handle that. Guinness it is.
I drink my Guinness. And I am content. It is only after the third pint that I am approached by the poor man’s Cate Blanchett—tall, blonde, blue eyes, and post-apocalyptic survival instincts. Apparently she is Russian because she says, “Do you speak Russian?” in an accent that can only be Russian.
“No,” I say, “I’m an American.”
“You are a beautiful American.”
“I would like a cocktail.”
“I voted for Obama. I would like a cocktail.”
At which point, she makes a face at me and says, “Oh, you are not buying me a cocktail. I’m sure you are used to fat disgusting monsters in America.”
I laugh at this for at least 15 minutes. Then I dance by myself amid several married, middle-aged Estonians while a Rod Stewart lookalike sings “I Just Called to Say I love You” with a drum machine and a Peavey 6-string.
Have I mentioned that I love it here?
She takes a new position on the other side of the pub and shoots me a lot of nasty looks while I finish my drinks. I want to say, it’s okay. You should go to the States. And you will find a wonderful guy with a spray-on tan and gold chains who will buy you cocktails. But I don’t say anything.