Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Finn Thing

Every so often I hear, 'Hey, it's Big Chief Many Turkey!' to which I close my eyes and grimace slightly admitting, 'Yup, that's me.'

My half-Finnish friend and I are hunting turkeys one year at his house. The turkeys approach close, closer, closer. I dry fire. Load a shell. Closer, closer, closer.


Four die. My face flushes white, devastated, mumbling, 'I can only shoot one. Oh no. Oh no. What do I do?'

Moments after, my friend races off to a doctor's appointment. We agree that turning myself in is the best thing to do. 'Honesty is the best policy.'

I sigh and load the birds into my car before I drive to turn myself in.

Still devastated, the Fish and Game Officer logs my wrongful acts and asks, 'Are you Finn?'

I look to the ground. 'Yes.'

'Me, too. Are you in Rindge?'

'No, New Ipswich next town east.'

'Ah, the officer in that area always tells us that whenever something happens, we get the story. There's never a doubt that whatever it is, we'll hear the truth.'

I sigh. 'Yup.'

So there's a Finn thing about us where we are married to or genetically pre-disposed to honesty. I hated turning myself in to earn my Big Chief Many Turkey name, but the reality of worrying endlessly about the situation ~without~ turning myself in was worse.

I chose the former, clean pain over the latter. Most of us Finns do.

However, think for a moment. I am a 4th-generation 100% American-Finn. Why American-Finn? Because I was born in Ohio. I'm an American.

Last winter, my distant cousin Jason is over for coffee and says, 'I am American. It's wrong to say we are Finn.'

I narrow my eyes a little in disagreement, thinking.

'You're right. I am American, too.'

But it doesn't feel right to say. Somewhere fused into my body is a nationalistic ideal that I am a Finn.

Jason is right, absolutely. The truth is that we are Americans.

But somewhere inside that I have no words to describe, my sense of honesty, truth, and always telling the story passionately denies the truth that I am an American.

My identity insists, 'I'm a Finn.'

I cannot explain it.

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