How does one become a rock star in Estonia? Simple. Estonia’s like a tiny village in the country; everybody knows everybody. You don’t have to go searching for the music mogul in his big, intimidating office to make your career; he probably lives next door to your cousin.
So find the music mogul, get him drunk and, the next thing you know, you are in the elite circle of Estonian pop music. Estonian pop music itself falls in to three categories: funky, polka covers of Beatles tunes, bleeding-ears-painful Euro-Disco, and bog-standard, teenage-quality garage band rock. My Estonian rock star boyfriend’s band played the last of the three which, considering the alternatives, I am grateful for.
I met my Estonian rock star boyfriend when I was twenty. I was on the prowl for somebody that would make me the next Estonian Yoko Ono, a Finno-Ugric Courtney Love. I saw him play his pointy, Spinal Tap style guitar and fell in love. Why did he like me? Well, I was a rich American and no self-respecting Estonian would ever, ever, ever turn down a free ride from a rich American. He reeked of vodka when I met him and continued to do so for the next several years that we were together. He wrote bad songs, played them badly and had bad rock-star friends.
All of these things may not even have bothered me that much if it hadn’t been for the fact that he was a huge pain in the ass at home. To the world (well, Estonia) he was a drunken, rock-star animal.
At home he was a borderline obsessive-compulsive neat freak who would spend hours vacuuming a corner. He drank gallons of vodka but wouldn’t eat anything but porridge with jam in the shape of a smiley face. He gave me a hard time about my clothes, yet would wear pink jeans and headbands. He would whittle, sand, bleach, paint, lick, polish, spackle and repaint his guitar for hours (bear in mind that we lived in a one room apartment and I had to watch every second of this). Then he would play his three chords, put the guitar back on its jewel-encrusted stand, give me a dirty look for letting the cat on the bed, and fall asleep. Basically, what I found out was that he was just a guy, not a rock star.
The sex, you ask? I don’t want to talk about it, but I can tell you that I wasn’t getting much. There was little time left over for me after he was done strumming his real lover, that six-string bitch. If you’re wondering about the groupies – yes, he had them, and yes, I think he probably slept with them if they caught him at a cognisant moment. They were usually around 14 since no adults actually liked his music. They would call, then hang up giggling if I answered the phone. I have to admit that I told quite a few of them to fuck off during the years.
Perhaps I’m being unkind; he did have his good points. As I mentioned before, he cleaned. I liked his dad. He’d write songs about me. The lyrics, roughly translated, went something like: “I was so happy before I knew you, just leave my tortured soul in peace”. We’d have other rock stars over and, together, we’d clean up after them when they peed the bed. I’d sometimes get VIP passes to events where I got to meet people like Tanel Padar, so it wasn’t all bad. I have to admit that I can also be difficult. Once I threw one of his buffed and polished guitars out of a third-floor window while angry. At the time, it seemed like an Estonian rock star couple thing to do.
Things began to deteriorate when I hit my late twenties and took a look at our lives. To be honest, the novelty had worn off. Long gone were the days where I would watch him on stage and think “that’s my man”. It got to the point where I would watch him on stage and think “if he wears that fucking head-band one more fucking time, I swear to fucking God, I’m going to lynch him with it”. Plus, the loose change that he made from the music was invested in either booze or new guitars. I finally understood that the end was near when our fights escalated to the point where he would shout out things like: “You can’t say that to me, I’m a ROCK STAR” and “You’re just jealous because you’re not FAMOUS like me.”
I was clever about getting rid of him, though. No drama or huge, guitar-slinging fight. I knew exactly what say to him to make him go and leave me forever. So one evening, while he was lying in bed, watching the South American soap opera he so enjoyed and eating his porridge and jam, I suggested that perhaps, just perhaps, he should get a real job. He threw one last almighty tantrum, packed his bags and stormed out of the house with the words: “I can’t get a job. I’m a CELEBRITY!”
Illustration by Soren Mosdal