Having been invited to my first Icelandic party by Haukur on this night, "Will and Justin´s Hitchhiking Scavenger Hunt" was going to have to conclude by 9 p.m. I hit the road at the optimum hitching time of 6 a.m., meaning a 15 hour day, meaning 150 points for Will, from Wilmot.
I spoke only Icelandic in Alli´s truck, and I found a yellow flower. A good start, but not good enough. By 7 a.m., Will, from Wilmot, had a 10-8 lead on me.
As the fourth car of the day pulled to the side of the road for me in the town of Hveragerði, I decided I´d go for some big points. "Hallo, vei getz!" I said in my best German accent. "Eek heisa Claus. Sprechen se Deutsche?" That´s all the German I know, and Gilsi took an immediate delight in thinking he had a German with him in the car. Gilsi was short, about 24, with a clueless country-boy smile. His impressive German vocabulary frightened me into thinking he might bust me for fraud, but he managed to believe all the nonsense I made up as I pointed to mountains and said, "Ya. Zee guken der einar fatlafuhrer." He surprisingly understood a lot of the meaning I put behind my words, though they actually meant nothing. When I left the car at Selfoss, Gilsi gave me one more excited smile as I said, "Donkeshayne...Farfegnugen!" ...10 big points!!!
Through five cars, I was having a blast. In all the cars I got in, I immediately shot at the drivers, "Ég heiti Justin. Hvað heitur þu - Magnús?" in a strange effort to guess their names. To convince people to say, "I love ice cream" in Icelandic, I told them long stories about my all-ice cream-diet: "Alla sem ég borða er rjómaís. Ég borða tveir litra af rjómaís ein dag og ég borða tveir litra næst dag og ég borða og ég borða og ég borða og ég borða BARA rjómaís!" This also got them laughing for between 2-3 seconds, but I needed to make people laugh for atleast FIVE seconds straight to collect some points. I relied heavily on my best Icelandic punch-line for this. Whenever people say I´ve learned the language very well for such a short time in Iceland, I wink and say, "Ég er mjög greindur." (I´m very smart) I swear, the fits of laughter that this remark of mine gets from Icelanders every time, without failure, could probably lift me to a Jim Carrie-like comedian status with just that line alone. At the very least, my catch-phrase would be twice as good as "Smokin´!" from Jim Carrie´s "The Mask." Dear God, I´d hope so.
I received my sixth ride of the day and said, "Ég heiti Justin. Hvað heitur pu - Sigurður?" The truck-driver responded, "Sigurður." He didn´t notice I´d guessed his name, but I was shocked. I got another five points when he offered me some items from the back of his truck. Thanks to Sigurður and Gilsi, I owned a commanding lead over Will, from Wilmot, after three hours, 51-30, and I looked unbeatable.
When I saw the sculpted curves of Karen´s adorable face coming towards me, I exaggerated my smile and raised my eyebrows, persuading her to stop. Something about being in a car with a cute girl momentarily enhanced my Icelandic-language skills to the level of an Icelandic professor. I reeled off witty Icelandic comment after witty Icelandic comment, slowly seducing her with my firm American accent.
But when our ride together ended and I hoped to capitalize and earn 5 points by getting her phone number, the second during which I opened the door seemed to take days. I thought back to the day before, when Sóley, my crush from the first few weeks in Iceland, had come into my pizza restaurant. I´d told Þóra Björk, my co-worker, how I´d gotten Sóley´s number the first day I met her. Þóra Björk asked, "Are you crazy?" because I´d asked for her number after so short a time. Þóra Björk´s comment screeched through my head like the calls of a howler monkey. I could only think of how short a time I´d known Karen and of what Þóra Björk would´ve done in the situation, and I didn´t ask for the number. A wasted opportunity. Blasted Þóra Björk!!!
Though riding with Karen was the most fun part of "Will and Justin´s Hitchhiking Scavenger Hunt," it also marked the downfall. After this, the next driver´s favorite expression was "Ég skil ekki," (I don´t understand) costing me a crucial -2 points every time he said it.
In the jeep I rode in after that, one of the passengers was quite drunk. I told him of my previous attempts at catching a puffin at Dýrholaey. I said, "Ég reyndi og ég reyndi og ég reyndi að fá eina lundi," (I tried and tried and tried to catch a puffin) and I made the motion that I wanted to stuff the bird into my backpack once I´d caught him, "...en þær geta fuglið og ég get ekki!" (but they can fly and I can´t!) My drunk fellow-passenger laughed for one second...two...3...4...and stopped - Shit!!! One second too short.
When I got to Dýrholaey, only two puffins were at the whole place. So, I could only hope to cash in on collecting a few puffin feathers. I grabbed a bunch, but tragedy struck as I returned to the rented 4WD of my Italian drivers, Daniel and Mikaela. The strong wind emptied my pockets of the feathers, and I watched in horror as five points floated from the edge of the cliff.
The next ride was the most frustrating of the day, as I embarked on telling my first-ever, lengthy story in Icelandic. I told my world-famous "The Dalwood Falls Story", about me losing my swimsuit at an Australian swimming hole and riding a broken bike for an hour with no pants. (I´m proud to say that story has now been translated into TWO languages) But I didn´t get the laughter I needed, and I mistakenly said one english word, "off", during our otherwise brilliant Icelandic-only conversation, costing me even more points.
Drat!!! I needed a break, so I went into the Hvölsvollar bus station. I spotted a tiny baby, the target of my next desperate point-getting attempt. I sat at the next table and watched the food-less baby cry as his greedy family stuffed themselves. I knew just what the baby needed to smile. I pulled from my backpack one of the Kókó-Mjölks I´d got from Sigurður´s truck earlier in the day. I offered it to the baby and watched closely as he drank it. Gulp, gulp. His lips started curving upwards a little, a little more, a little more... I went over to him. "Brjóstu, brjóstu!" (Smile, smile!) But the confounded baby just wouldn´t smile for me. ...no points awarded.
It was 1 p.m. and Will, from Wilmot, now led 70-67. I gained 5 points when Sæmundur picked me up twice in a row, and I then rode with Paul. I was prepared to ride down Þórsár, Iceland´s largest river, on a wooden board for a whopping 20 points, but I just couldn´t bare to interrupt Paul´s stories about...well, I don´t know what he was talking about, but he kept telling me, "You´re good, Justin. You´re a good guy," and I didn´t want to break his heart.
I arrived back in Reykjavik and hitched north to Borgarnes, a small town with very little to do. I went to the Borgarnes supermarket, the local baby hangout, and followed babies around making goofy faces. But I got no smiles. I then went to the town bar, hoping that someone would by me a beer...but the bar was totally empty.
So, I hitched home, ending the trip at a little after 7. Final stats:
Names I got from drivers (Alli, Haukur, Krist Björn, Gilsi, Petur, Sigurður, Karen, Daniel and Mikaela, Alli og Hilda, Helgi, Sæmundur, Siguron, Paul, Crispy, Jóhanny, Jóhann Finnson, and Helgi) - 17 points
Same driver in one day (Sæmundur) - 5
About 450 kilometers - 20
Speaking only Icelandic in 8 cars - 40
Speaking only German in 1 car - 10
Times I heard "Ég skil ekki" (4) - (-8 points)
Guessing Sigurður´s name - 5
Yellow flower - 2
Purple flower - 3
Kókó-Mjölk from Sigurður´s truck - 5
The final, sad score: Will, from Wilmot - 150, Me - 99
Congratulations, Will, from Wilmot!
I´ll often ask myself, "What if?" What if the puffin feathers didn´t fly away, what if the drunk guy I entertained had had one more beer, what if I knew the Icelandic word for "off", what if Icelandic babies smiled more, what if Þóra Björk hadn´t played her evil mind-games on me and Karen had invited me back to her place for lunch (10 points), a ride on a horse (15), and a kiss (20 points!).
AFTERTHOUGHTS: For everybody pulling for me to have luck with the Icelandic ladies, I just wanted to offer a picture. Me, next to a soft-smiling, high-cheekboned Icelander, laying in bed and falling asleep to the melodies of the singer, Björk. Now, this is how I pictured Iceland!!!
Unfortunately, this scene took place the day after "Will and Justin´s Hitchhiking Scavenger Hunt." So, I didn´t get any points for it, so kissing her was completely worthless!!! What a waste.
Until next time...
This is Modern Oddyseus, saying,
"Ég er mjög greindur."
(Ha, ha. That line kills me!)