Visitors Guide to Estonians

This article was originally published in the inhouse visitor magazine for AQVA Hotel and & Spa in Rakvere


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My name is Louis Zezeran and I am an Australian Stand Up comedian who lives and works in Estonia. Yup, if I can make it here I can make it anywhere. I have lived here for about 5 years and I run a company called “Comedy Estonia”, we were the first crew to perform real Stand Up Comedy here and now we run everything from small open mics right up to promoting big International stars. Estonians have this self image that they are not funny people but I assure you it isn’t true. I was once complimented on my work by saying “congratulations, you have managed to…” (and I could hear searching for a metaphor to describe something difficult) “errr… you managed to sell ice to Eskimos”. Well.. close.. whatever the opposite of that is, that’s what we have done. Estonians have a dark, sarcastic sense of humor which I love and I am going to give you a few of my best tips about how to interact with Estonian people which I have learned from trying to sell ice to errr.. Eskimos. Eskimos who for some reason didn’t have ice before.

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All these people need ice. Lots and lots of ice.

Estonians are going to ask you why did you come to Estonia. They are so curious! Even if you are just here for a weekend, they are completely mystified why someone would want to come to “such a cold, dark country”. They will say this as they drink a beer and jump over the fire on the endless sunshine of midsummer without a hint of irony. Right after they have looked at you genuinely mystified as to why you would chose to come to the backward Eastern Europe country of Estonia, they will launch into a spiel about how efficient the government is, how the startup culture is world class (pro tip: talk about how great Skype is) and how beautiful their countryside is. Don’t try and point out the inconsistency of their self image here, they won’t be able to see it, just say you came here because you are thinking of working for Skype and they will buy it.

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Whatever you do, don’t take work tips from this bloke

They are more punctual than a German crossed with an atomic clock. If you will be 5 minutes late, best to phone ahead. No wait, don’t phone, send a instant message instead, a phone call is just another time they have to speak to someone. My favorite trick is to stand just around the corner and then pop out just before they arrive, showing that you have a more precisely timed clock than they do.

I read a statistic today that said 33% of Estonians wouldn’t want to live next door to a foreigner. Which does sound kinda weird but you need to remember 99% of Estonian people don’t want to live next door to anybody at all, so their approach is really very tolerant. There is an old saying that “An Estonian’s favorite food is another Estonian”, however I have yet to see “Estonian person” flavored crisps in the store. Maybe the taste is too bitter, not sure.

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Estonian flavored sauerkraut will be next years big hit at Rimi

They are extremely ambitious people. Look how this country has changed in just 23 years from the depths of the Soviet Union to a highlight of Nordic culture and business! They rightly believe they can do anything and its a wonderful spirit to be among but they always have their own unique way of going about it. Once a former Estonian Prime Minister said on national TV that he believes Estonia will soon be one of the five wealthiest nations in Europe. I feel they cut the broadcast too soon as I imagined him going on to say that he hopes to achieve this goal by rearranging Europe so there are only 5 nations left. They get the job done, it just might not be the way you expect.

 

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He is going to make Estonian one of the 5 wealthiest nations in Europe with a trustworthy face like that

It is reasonable easy to talk to an Estonian. Even walking around the old town, most Estonians have prepared themselves that they might get asked by hapless foreigners for directions. How to know if an Estonian will understand your English. Do they look under 50? Then you are pretty much fine. They also pride themselves on being direct and honest with no time for our frivolous western pleasantry of sugar coating conversation. After our third ever comedy show I enthusiastically asked someone from the crowd “What did you think of the show” and without missing a beat “Oh, it wasn’t as good as the first two”. While the uninitiated might be taken back by this you shouldn’t, this means they liked two of the shows!

To me, the best experiences are always when you head outside the big city. I took my Canadian friend to a bakery in a very small town for breakfast which is run by an old lady who looked like she was barely aware Estonia became independent 23 years ago. She had eyes which spoke “In the Soviet Union we had lines for everything! Ha, we even had lines just to get into other lines”. My friend, seemingly protected by a invincibility shield of Canadian happiness, greeted her with the most enthusiastic “HELLO! How are you doing today?” that he could muster. I will never forget the look on this ladies face, to the untrained eye it looked like she didn’t flinch but a few subtle moves of her forehead told me she was clearly moved by this comment. It was like she had not been asked how *she* was in 40 years and her whole world was now crumbling around her. The wrinkles on her forehead shouted at me “He is right, how am I??”. Then as soon as it started, she stiffened up and replied with a strong and decisive… “NO”. When I had stopped laughing on the floor I managed to order our breakfast in Estonian and we could only hope that we left this lady with a good story to tell her friends over a vodka in the evening.

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Welcome to most exciting bakery on planet. See, I even wear party hat for funky funky good times

Estonia is a fantastic place to be. For me it is a great mix of new hip Nordic culture mixed with gorgeous countryside and still a hint of the old days, that not everything has been commercialized and commoditized yet. Enjoy your time here!

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If you want more deep cultural learnings about Estonia, follow the Tim & Louis podcast on Soundcloud or iTunes!

Cosmo Sept 2014 – Men’s Fashion Article

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Try think of one word which might describe guys? Brave? Strong? Bad dancers? (ok thats two words, fine). Whatever your answer, I’m pretty sure “fashionista” is definitely not one of the first 1000 words which come to your mind. For me two stories which happened to me recently sum it up. The first one starts on a lovely summer evening, sitting on the terrace having a beer with a buddy of mine who happens to be gay and I suddenly took notice of his outfit. It was good. Really good. Tight knee length denim shorts fashionably offset with a dark blue striped shirt, an immaculately hung scarf and a beard so manly it would could scare off a bear at 50 meters. I looked down at my own outfit, thinking that yeah, I don’t do *too* bad and I realized how brutally heterosexual I looked. Dirty white shoes, jeans with a hole in the crotch from cycling exposing my grandpa undies, a badly washed tee who’s only purpose should have been as that rag you polish your shoes with and a haircut so short that it looks like I get it done at Paldiski Army base. Fast forward a few days later to my second story where I am sitting chatting with 3 Aussie mates who were visiting Tallinn and I recounted story #1, to which one of them replied “huhuh, maybe we should dress a bit worse so the chicks know we are straight uhuhhuh”. Sigh. No use big boy, the bar tender, every girl there and any bears which happen to get within 50 meters can already tell we are all 100% straight. And you know what, I am not sure that’s a good thing. Why can’t guys dress well? The bar is set pretty low, If our clothes are a proper size, that’s a win. If we have a pair of undies on which we bought less than 5 years ago, that’s a huge win. All I can to is tell you HOW guys think and maybe you can come up with some bright ideas to change your husband / boyfriend / brother / dude you have friendzoned for 2 years.

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I have a feeling it was WAY easier for the Lord to accept cool gay dudes than badly dressed douchy straight ones

Is it all the guys fault though? I wonder what came first, the badly dressed man or the crappy clothes store? Every mall in Estonia feels like a less amusing version of Groundhog Day, it’s the same stores with the same stuff and what’s on offer is not great. Tallinn already has more sq/m of malls per person than most European capitals and our chances don’t seem great of seeing lots of fresh new stuff. So if shopping is already down our priority list somewhere around cleaning the kitty litter on a sunday afternoon and then we have to hunt around for something stylish and unique, of course we won’t be bothered to go looking. My tip for something fresh and different for guys is Reede in Rottermani, they have a lot of nice Scandinavian brands and the prices are not crazy, I can dig it.

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Your cat, after you leave for a few days and tell your boyfriend to clean the kitty litter tray

Store managers, can you make sure there is 3G or Wifi next to the change rooms to amuse the small army of men who are constantly marooned out the front? I am looking at you H&M Rocca.

Idiosyncrasies of Men

You have 20 pair of shoes. We have 3. You have a different outfit for each night of the week (which would still be true if we lived on Jupiter and a week was about 5 times as long). We are lucky if we have 2 pair of jeans. I can only wear one pair at once, so why the need for so many things? I’m no different from any other guy, as a rule we don’t like shopping for clothes. Oh god, it takes so long! Who cares about all these different styles? None of these stores are showing the football match! I have 3 perfectly good shirts at home, why do I need anymore? I think therein lies the key to men’s fashion I think, to borrow a phrase from Thailand “same same, but different” (no not, “free drinks if you can catch the ping pong ball”). Fine, I do have a few pairs of shoes, but then I have 2 pair of jeans, both with the same cut so I know they fit. I have 1 brand of underwear. 1 brand of socks. One style of shirt and while I have a bunch of tee’s, they are mostly from one store. See the pattern? The pattern is that we like patterns. Men like logic and order. We want to understand things and then line them up and file them away in our small monkey brains so we can then move on to more important stuff like sitting on the couch playing Mario Bros. Both my jeans are from Swedish brand Nudie and they are the same cut, I am probably up to my 4th pair. What do I do when one pair is done? Go to the internet and order more, total shopping time, about 4.5 minutes. Just why do I always wear checked shirts? Cause a few years ago I worked out it was a half way decent look and lacking any better ideas in the intervening years, it’s now my thing. For summer I’ve been wearing basic tees from H&M. Simple, a good fit and at 5€ each, if one looks shitty after a few months I can donate it to charity and get another! In fact I would be totally happy if every 3 months, 6 new shirts and 3 pair of undies and socks were delivered to my door… no… right into my wardrobe. If occasionally a new pair of jeans and another checked shirt could magically show up as well then I would be done, BAM, zero shopping required but look still kept kinda fresh. In the country of endless startup companies, who’s going to offer this male shopping nirvana?

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Steve Jobs had bazillions of dollars and still wanted to wear the same thing. He was a hero to every man.

We secretly love it when you wear our stuff. Nothing is sexier than seeing our shirt over your curves. Just please return the shirt or at the very least, ransom it in exchange for more sex.

Ladies, what’s worse than getting a guy home, having him almost fall over and hit his head as he tries to take off his shirt and pants only to discover a set of grungy old boxers which look big enough to hoist as a tent and house a small family of Vietnamese people. Underwear is all tight and snug around your private parts and when we find a brand we like, we definitely want to stick to it. For me, its Björn Borg, I think I am a bit Swedish biased after living there for two years, I drive a Volvo, have an apartment full of IKEA and I love nothing more than knowing that an aging Swedish tennis star has my junk under control. At 25 euros a pair, the “Borg” are ready to “assimilate” your bank balance pretty quick BUT can you put a price on what rubs up and down against your most prized possession each day? Oh and pardon me, remind me how much bra’s cost again?

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Hey gurl, I was doing Ryan Gosling before Ryan Gosling was doing Ryan Gosling. All my junk is secured with some firm fabric. Shall we talk about kittens?

I love checked shirts but I also love my tees. Every guy needs a range of great tees but finding them takes work. I see so many generic tees going around, what exactly is that design on the front of your shirt dude, looks like a drawing from first year art class. I think a shirt should either say something strong, or say nothing at all. Guys should get their favourite band shirts, order them from the artist and support them (cause even though you love them, you probably torrented their album). You should have to be able to explain what is on your shirt, otherwise, why are you wearing it? Head over to Heavy Mental and order an Estonian made designer tee. Or, as I did in my younger days, get some iron on transfer and make your own. Yes it’s bit tacky but it sure was unique and the designs all really meant something to me. Tees are a fabulous way to express yourself,I guess you just have to be wary of who “you” are. While in Jõgeva the other day (just hanging out), I saw a guy with a shirt which in massive letters read “EAT SHIT AND DIE”. A statement it certainly was. Who says the countryside people don’t have class?

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The shirt was kind of like this, except the writing was WAY WAY bigger. And we were in Jõgeva.

How men dress bad

There are some people leading the charge in Estonia. We all know why bowties are in style and more recently our youthful Prime Minister has shown us that colorful socks are all the rage when treading the corridors of the Riigikogu. I feel like fashionable items with guys are sort of like giving a bottle of vodka to a group of 15 year olds at a party. Sure they really want it, but they dont know how to use it, they end up getting pretty messy in the process and the (fashion) police end up having to make a visit. Case in point. A friend told me about her guy friend who was inspired by Prime Minister Rõivas’ foot fashion sensation. He too would wear colorful socks! The catwalks of Milan would be calling any moment! The next day he dutifully presented himself wearing a fantastic pair of designer socks, which were pulled up high and looked fabulous… except for the sandals he was wearing over them. Did anyone else facepalm just now? I really thought that sock and sandals were like polio, a terrible disease we had cured 20 years ago, but when I asked my female friends “what do you hate about men’s fashion” almost without fail it was the first thing mentioned. I was shocked. Are we in an epidemic? Do we need to request emergency funds from the EU to run an education campaign? They can have the police round them up (it seems to fall under the category of ‘causing a public disturbance’) and I’ll give everyone lessons on how to wear flip flops like an Aussie. I even have a pair of flip flops which have a bottle opener in the bottom and this is without doubt the greatest cultural export Australia has ever made. Classy? Oh yes, maybe I’ll offer a pair to my friend in Jõgeva.

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See! The socks match the tie! This is what happens when your partner is a pop star. Alas, if only all men could have such fortunate guidance.


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Raido Kuurmaa, Heavy Mental T Shirts
When I am in the shop, I see directly what I want. Girls need to try 5 different things. For guys the first thought is the right one. Women are more interactive, spending time in Facebook looking for shirts and clothes. Guys maybe…. spend the time more wisely.



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Sandra Luks, Baltman Men’s Wear
Don’t buy anything that is a tiny bit too big or small. Thinking that you will probably gain a bit weight or lose some is not a good idea. If you have decided to go shopping with the figure you have you probably think it is good enough already


The Tim & Louis Podcast – All New!

Myself and Irishman living in Estonia, Tim Reidy have started a new podcast where we go over the issues of the week and other things which annoy us

Check it out on Soundcloud or iTunes

 

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Cosmo August 2014 – Bastille and other shitty music aimed at young women

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I am going to tell you something which none of you ladies will agree with. Wanna hear it? Ok here goes. I hated the Bastille concert at Õllesummer. There I said it, I know you are not happy (Incidentally, I found out “Õllesummer” roughly translates into English as “place of underage drinking”). They are the biggest bunch of manufactured fancy boys I have seen on stage who are nothing more than Bieber for older girls. There were legions of women all jumping up and down in unison, with their guys next to them giving just a half hearted skip. The only reason they are there is the hope that she gets excited enough from seeing these guys on the stage that they will get some kind of reflective sexual attraction later. Ha, how pathetic are we guys? Can you imagine standing with your guy at the Liis Lemsalu concert and you are hoping to get some sweet action when you get home because he is all pumped up from seeing Estonia’s #1 pop princess. If I go to her concert, I’m a dirty perv who for some reason hasn’t discovered Google Image Search but if you go to a concert with cute boys its all about the totez amazeballs music they play and you are allowed to scream so loud it would get though the sound proofing in Josepf Fritzel’s basement.

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To post this article I already had to look at their dumb smug faces way more than I wanted to

My only relief during the show was to tweet sarcastic comments but I couldn’t even do that because the mobile phone system in Estonia breaks when more than 5 people gather in the one place. If Louis is annoyed at a Bastille concert and no one hears his tweets, does he really get annoyed? The answer is “exponentially”. My rage finally reached its highest point as the woman in front of me started to Shazaam the currently playing song. Take a moment to consider this. It made me wonder how many times she had been sitting at home alone with her phone humming something she heard on the radio that day, reinstalling the app 20 times because it was clearly faulty because “I totally hummed that song so well”. I think Bastille would be big in Russia because KGB agents now have something new to torture people with.

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“No Mr Bond…. I expect you to…. listen to Bastille….” “nooooo hook the battery back up to my testicles, that way better than this shiiiiiiit”

I’ll never understand boy bands. Yes, they are hipsters but come on, they are still a boy band. I want my rock and roll stars to be ugly, hairy and be the sort of person under any other circumstances you would cross the street to avoid. I guess the Beatles got similar screaming, crazy responses from women back in the 60’s but they managed to do it with bad haircuts, so respect to them. Maybe I am more jealous of the liberty society gives women here. When you see Bastille or even meet them, you are allowed to let go, act nuts and for a few moments channel your inner 12 year old. It’s fine, it’s cute of you. If I go and meet Miss Lemsalu, I guarantee it’s not socially acceptable for me to act like a 12 year old boy, unless I first make sure I am sitting down, with a jacket covering my lap. When I had my one, triumphant, obviously Oscar worthy scene in Kättemaksukontor, I had a few young boys trying to chat to me on Facebook after. It was weird, all I could reply was “Dude, I am think I’m not the actor you really want to speak to” and going through my mind was “How am I going to explain this to the judge??”

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No Michael Cena that is never going to happen, stop making dippy movies giving boys hope this might happen

Could it be that boy bands exist because in reality guys are nothing more than 12 year old boys with the farting and snoring volume turned up and for one moment these Romeos on stage present the idea of a man who is sensitive, can express himself and may possibly even know how to use deodorant properly? It got me thinking though, if nothing else, Bastille proved to me that you can sell a product of questionable quality as long you put a leader up there with half a personality and a decent hair cut. But wait… on second thought… maybe Bastille are not so bad after all.

Cosmo July 2014 – Sexual Education

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I was a late bloomer, even by my generation’s standards, I didn’t have sex until I was 18. Not that I was trying to become a monk, I just couldn’t convince a girl to sleep with me until then. First time was a mess. I had a girlfriend but did I also mention I had waited until I was 18 to drink alcohol? I had no idea 8 beers would have that effect on my old fella. I was literally poking around in the dark. It was her graduation night. We were both very drunk. “It” didn’t work. Not for me. Not for her. We tried again a few days later and made a mutual decision that this time would indeed be counted as our first and that I would, no matter how far I might travel, publish a story about this in a national women’s magazine. That girl was strangely good at predicting the future.

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No one told me booze was going to “deflate” the situation faster than a naked picture of Edgar Savisaar. How was I supposed to know?

They tried to give us something resembling sex education at school but I remember it being one class of only boys where we tried to show off how much we knew, which consisted of not much more than what could be shown at 17:30 each day on “Home and Away”. We didn’t even get the condom on the cucumber routine. That’s a classic! We were shown a video about birth control myths which contained the line “But I’ll pull it out before I come”. I found it so hilarious I remember it vividly to this day, so in that respect, the video worked. I didn’t even know what a 69 was. I had to have it explained to me by a girl pointing her two index fingers up in the air, turning one upside and then bringing them together. These are the wise lessons of the world I had learnt by the time I left high school.

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Top points if you know where this image comes from! The hint is “home and away”. I grew up in a time before the internet, when all we had were crappy VHS and just the existance of a sex tap was enough of a scandal, because without the internet, there were not many chances to actually see it.

My first girlfriend was also not a fan of blowjobs and even less of a fan of swallowing. I didn’t know much as an 18 year old but I knew any new place to ejaculate was an amazing gift from the gods and one day, she surprised me by saying she would like to impart this wonderful, wonderful gift to me. I laid back and there was little doubt to me that heaven was a place on earth that day. The sun shone, church bells rang, birds sang out. After I had reached my point of maximum pleasure I was giddy with euphoria and in a beautiful loving moment, she leaned up to kiss me. However, being a strong woman who believed that lessons must be learnt, she had not swallowed my “gift” but instead as we kissed she squirted a small part back to me, as a way to show me how unpleasant it really was. Well ladies let me tell you that in that instant you have never seen someone leap across the room with such speed, it was like a standing long jump and I could have easily passed over any Olympic record in my way. I lept forward, washed my mouth out and never before as a fall from grace been so fast or so salty. Lessons may be good or lessons may be bad, but they all come from a woman.

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WTF is this in my mouth??! Must get to the siiiiiiiiiink!!

Boys need girls to tell them what is right in this world. We are left without anyone to teach us the ways of the world, but masculinity demands we are able to know all and be the masters of our bodies and with some luck, yours. Who are our role models? A sportsman? A movie star? The president? (I’m starting a new trend, its called “The Ilves” and it involves coming to bed with nothing but a bow tie on. I am sure our great leader would be a fan of anything which encourages making more Estonians). Are you worried young guys these days are getting all their sexual ideas from porn? That’s because no one else is teaching us. So be kind to your boyfriend, maybe drop him a few hints here and there and if he doesn’t get the message then maybe… and I hate to say it… he be prepared to deliver a more “memorable” lesson.

Cosmo June 2014 – The Time My Dick Was in a Guys Mouth

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Several months ago I had a weird dream. I was on some movie set and for the scene some guy was kneeing in front of me and I had to.. well… put my dick in his mouth. Ok stay with here ok, I’ve got a point (pun intended). I was about to do it and then I was like “no no I can’t do this” and everyone said “you have to do it, this is the movie and there are lights and crew and everyone’s counting on you” so reluctantly flopped it in. I must admit, I wasn’t really enjoying the experience and it was about this time I woke up feeling pretty weird. My only consolation was that I didn’t wake up with a boner and in the dream, my penis was bigger than in real life, so it’s nice to know my subconscious isn’t completely against me.

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In my dream I am casually walking around an IKEA and then this!

I am at a loss to understand what this dream means. That I would be gay if only I had more people to cheer me on? That I shouldn’t eat salami before bed? Coincidentally, that weekend was also the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney, so maybe I was subtly supporting my friends back home. Like we say in Sydney, it’s not gay if you do it once a year when drunk at 3am in the toilet stall of a nightclub called “The Tool Shed”.

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If you are ever in Sydney, I recommend a visit

When I was at university I had a flatmate who came out to us but he had always guarded his computer really closely. One day we were drinking in his room and I found his laptop open and feeling like I’d just got access to the top secret wikileaks files, I started going through the folders. At this point he looked at me and said “you know what you will find in there?”. And he was right, I found some good old fashioned, no chit chat, just belt buckles hitting the floor, guy on guy porno. As we sat there together going through his previously locked away stash, it occurred to me that guys are essentially all the same, we are all just looking for a nice warm, tight place to stick our dingdongs. If you think I’m weird for looking at gay porn, consider the male ability to suspend reality as we watch regular porn which is pretty much 50% dick. Girl on girl scenes are not quite the same, we need a schlong there so we can believe that could be us. Don’t even get me started on the male fascination with anal sex. One trip to a prison will make you realize that the male imagination can make us believe anything. Especially if he’s wearing a blonde wig.

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How an average guy sees porn in his mind

All this got me thinking though, I doubt any of you ladies found these stories particularly sexy. Have you ever thought to yourself “oh I wish my boyfriend would make out with his best mate, I’d Snapchat that to everyone!”? It seems that beyond our gay brothers, no one wants to hear about guys making out. However if my name was Louise, this was “Rullnokk Monthly” (such a magazine exists right?) and I wrote about having a dream with another girl I would be given front page and then as many extra pages as I need to fully describe the incident in as colorful detail as I could.

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“Rullnokk Monthly” is definitely something they would be reading on “Pärnu Shore” (click here to head to Eric’s classic articles)

I wondered if I was a bit homophobic for feeling weird about my pseudo gay dream. I think (god, I hope) that it’s not so much about how you think, it’s about how you act. I did feel weird about it but I didn’t then go out and yell at a gay guy. I imagine he would be pretty confused if I did. I think it also goes for those around us too. If someone, especially your boyfriend, says some homophobic stuff, don’t let it slide, say something about it. We gotta make it known this stuff isn’t cool and you are about the only one who stands any chance of getting through to your guy. No matter where we live, there is still a long way to go to making society as cool as it can be. So be open. Be cool and don’t take any crap from anyone. Imagine, one day we will live in a world so open that guys can write in national magazines about the gay dreams they just had. I can’t wait for that day!

See me in Kimmo on Finnish TV2!

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Last summer I filmed some episodes of the Finnish TV show “Kimmo” and had a blast doing it. The plot is familiar. Finnish girl meets Australian guy, bring him back to Finland, Australian guy turns out to be a psycho and she runs back to Finnish man!

I am in the last 4 episodes of the season, my parts are in English, rest of the show in Finnish

Cosmo May 2014 – How to Reject a Guy in One Easy Step

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I was speaking to my friend the other day about a guy she went on a date with and it got me thinking about how I think girls get off too easy with this stuff.

“Oh we went out a few times… and he’s a nice guy… but I’m just not into him..”
“Ok, so tell him”
“Like to his face?? OH I could never do that, how awkward!”

 hello-id-like-to-report-an-awkward-situationHaha, you just read this in ALF’s voice!

When it comes to dating, guys have a lot of rules to follow. If we meet a girl we fancy every hormone in our mentally challenged bodies goes nuts. 100,000 years of evolution is telling us we need to be with this women. She drives me wild! I will go and hunt wild animals covered in my animal skin to impress and look after her. I will be her ultimate man warrior, thumping any competing mate with my enormously oversized wooden club and then make sweet love to her with the equally oversized wooden club I have under my snugly fitting animal skin. Unfortunately, 200 years of social pressure (Australia is only that old therefore I don’t know anything before that) is telling us to play it cool and put the wooden club away. Both of them.

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We have to go and talk politely to you. We have to smile and make it seem like we have a real personality. We have to try really hard not to stare at your lovely boobies even though you have worn a tight top and we can see the outline of your lacy bra. We have to work out if you are a phone number girl or a Facebook girl. A phone number girl thinks a man should be a man. That even in this age of instant digital communication, it is polite and gentlemanly to call a woman and ask her on a date. Fair enough, we want the milkshake so we will work for it. However then there is Facebook girl, who thinks it is all too much to be giving such personal details as a phone number and would rather sound you out via online chat where she can casually type behind the safety of her iPhone. Now, we have to work out which one you are, so we can approach you in such a way which appeases the mighty goddess who may one day let us touch those sweet boobies which we have tried so hard not to look at. Heaven forbid if we get it wrong though! “Oh what a weirdo, he found my phone number, I only answered because I thought it was that other guy I met at the club calling!” Or.. “Oh what a pathetic non man, he just chats to me on Viber, sending me winky stickers and never asking me out”. It’s hard to know sometimes ladies, extra points to you if you indicate this during the first conversation.

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OMG, he added me on Facebook and then proceeded to… oh god I can’t even bring myself to think it… he.. he.. CHATTED WITH ME! Oh god the horror!

Then we have to find the right place to take you. Even with those new American burgers, apparently McDonald’s still isn’t a good choice. I thought you said you liked foreign food? Do you find dinner for two romantic or do you tremble at the thought of being trapped behind a table for 3 hours with nothing but the pretzels to stab him in the leg in defence with when he tries to play footsies with you. The point is, we have to do a lot of stuff and that’s ok, we want to do that… ok… we have to do that… but either way, its the way mankind has been doing it for 200 years.

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This is your last line of defence between you and his boring ass travel stories. Oh wow you went to Thailand once, how cultured you are! Stab him in the eye with one of these, if the pretzel doesn’t take him down, the little salt flakes will get in his hair and make him seem like he has dandruff

Here is the deal ladies. If we have go through all of that crap at the start, then the least you can do is tell a guy straight when you don’t like him. You can’t just leave him hanging on because you kinda like the attention. You can’t just say you are washing your hair for the 15th night straight. The nice guys are the ones who often don’t get the message. It’s hard. It’s awkward. It sounds rude and maybe it’s presumptuous but if you don’t like him and his badly fitting shirt then you gotta tell him. Oh but be nice. But direct. I know its tricky but sometimes its us who needs to be beaten over the head with an enormously oversized wooden club. Err.. the first type that is.

Cosmo April 2014 – Tinder

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When my friend told me she had just got a “tinder surprise” from a guy I wondered where the chocolate egg was. I was pretty mixed about Tinder at the start. First I was like “yay Grindr for prudish straight people” but then I thought to myself “wait, are we sure this isn’t making things too easy for guys?” What my gender needs is tough love (not the rubber mask kind). I don’t think guys have it THAT hard in Estonia. If he sees you in a bar, can still stand correctly, doesn’t smell like a taxi driver and has his shirt on the right way, the girl will probably give him the time of day. So I’m skeptical about anything which makes it TOO easy for guys. Doggie has to do some work to get the treat.

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I realise I just compared sex to this doggie treat, still you gotta give a dog a bone right?

My friends kept insisting Tinder is a thing in Estonia. In this small place? Feels like a statistical probability that after not long you will come across your cousin. (on a side note, I once dated a girl only to have it dawn on me after the third date she looked eerily like my second cousin, there were some frantic calls to mum to verify she was not). I was told people even use Tinder in Tartu, although my friend did admit it was just mainly guys she knew who already had girlfriends (so really it was like any other club night there). I am forever amazed when I hear that two friends hooked up after living in Tartu for a few years. How did you not meet in the first weekend there? Oh god, how will you ever get over that long distance, Supilinn to Annelinn relationship? With this app it’s 2 am and I am walking past Zavood and my phone buzzes and tells me to go in and talk to a girl. Wow, my phone is only telling me what my balls should have already.

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This is real life Tindr, 3am at Zavood. Picture is blurred to accurately show the reality that you are pretty wasted at this hour. Wow, go and meet the love of your life and if you are not related, its just a bonus

Despite my skepticism I thought I’d investigate for purely academic purposes. It would be a little inappropriate for me to make an account so I did what any of you would do in the same situation, I made a fake account with my best friends name. A few clicks later “Stewart Johnson” had joined Tinder and I was in.

Obviously the first photo is really crucial. Straight up I saw a bunch of full on cleavage shots which only turned me into a sassy black woman “oh honey, put those things away, have some respect!”. Also would a smile kill you? All you have to do is not look like your cat died that morning and have a photo taken anywhere else but the dance floor of Shooters and I think natural chemistry takes over. By this stage I was getting super fascinated by it. Had I found the future of dating? Sit back, flick across until you find Prince Charming and then like the hell out of him. Then it dawned on me, IT’S BETTER FOR WOMEN. This small male brain for a moment grasps the greater reality of the universe that there is indeed life beyond his own penis. I can see now why you women like it, he only finds out if you like him as well. Remembering who’s account I was using, I didn’t actually click “like” on any of them, I mean I wouldn’t want to give Stewart a bad reputation would I?

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Alas Stew is taken and this is only a dream for most women

The difficulty, as is most things in Estonia, is that we just don’t have enough people to make it really cool. The app showed me about 150 women in my search radius and 7 of them were my friends. I called one of them who immediately jumped on the app and matched with a guy who’s opening line was “so do we have coffee before or after we have sex?”. Not only do you need to make a match, then you need to find a guy who isn’t living out some Robert Downey Jnr roleplay fantasy.

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If you need to use Tinder, you are not

Tinder can be a brutal, judgmental form of online dating but so is the club after midnight and at least you can do this on the couch in your jammies. Oh and if you do see Stewart on Tinder, give him a like! He may never know but it’s the thought that counts right?

Cosmo March 2014 – Commitment

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Guys like relationships. We are not all the slick pick up artists out there trying to hit on every girl in sight. Meeting a girl, falling for her, it’s great. Everyone’s happy! However, looking back on my life, after you are together a while, something changes. Y’all start to get a little confused by how your man acts. This happens after the love stage, maybe some kind of living together but it’s definitely before marriage. He loves you, you know that. He wants to be with you. But nothing has changed in a while. It is the same. It brings on questions in you. Where is this relationship going? Does he still love me? Why does he feel he can leave the toilet seat up now? He seems so perfectly ok with this! Why doesn’t he do something?? Can’t he see we need to do something?? God I hate him so much right now, he way he sits there and watches football, look at him smiling at me. I bet he is enjoying this. Jerk!

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We are smiling because we really are enjoying this. Guys LOVE this time in the relationship. We are together with you, we go out and we have awesome fun. Plus the sex is pretty great too. Sure all that extra stuff has to come sometime and we do really want that, but we don’t get why it needs to come so soon. Don’t we have our whole lives for that? What’s the rush baby? Well, its probably because guys have approximately zero biological and social pressure to move forward. I’m going to be pretty good at making a kid for the next 20 years and while I don’t really want to be some “grandpa daddy”, my healthy male ego thinks “oh yeah I’m going to be fit and active well into my mid life, I think there is room for another beer now”. If you don’t have parents who are pushing you (tip: moving across the other side of the world worked for me) then its pretty much only your girlfriend who wants you to get serious. So then we start feeling we are going out with a project manager who dutifully informs us this relationship is behind schedule and the only way to make it up is to put in double shifts of nights in watching Sex and the City reruns.

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When we are sitting on the couch, using the remote to change channels, we feel like a man. A man in control. In control of a TV but in control nevertheless

I think there exists a lot social pressure on women over 25 in Estonia to settle down and have a partner. If you want to focus on your career, you’re going to have A LOT of people telling you “when you get a cat, you should definitely take one from the shelter”. When I was single I would so rarely meet single women above 25, like older single women of Estonia form a secret society for fear of being outed as witches. When I would go to Copenhagen or Stockholm it would be perfectly normal to meet eligible single women who had great jobs and were 30 or more. I hope for your sake it becomes more normal here, the last thing you want is to settle for some dork because you are running out of friends to have a drink with on Friday night.

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Unmarried at 25? GO OUT AND FIND A MAN NOW or this will be you in 2 years, I swear to god the cats can smell your singleness, go go go!!

So don’t let that stuff drive you nuts ok? Pretty much every ex girlfriend who I have spoken to years later, if they were not still (deservedly) interested in throwing a coffee mug at my head, told me they are sorry for pushing me into something I didn’t want to do. Oh what’s that? After 16 years of having adult relationships maybe the common factor in me not being able to move on to something more committed is actually just.. me? Hey, who asked you anyway. Fine.

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Artist rendering of pretty much every breakup I’ve ever had. In my younger days I looked older and more like Super Mario

Look, your man loves you and he wants to be with you. He may have a hard time opening up because, while the Y chromosome gives us logic, it also leaves us with the emotional range of a Baltic herring. If he’s reluctant, give him time. Just don’t let man boy child sitting next to you take forever to come around though, let a man not commit forever and he probably won’t. Enjoy the time you have together, you will be surprised how fast your guy will learn stuff if you ease up on him and talk about it a bit. He might even watch another Sex and the City with you.