"Iceland 2000" story # 13

Reykjavik           August 4, 2000

A very unlikely thing happened this week. I worked a job for FIVE straight days!!! To most people, this may not seem like much. But, being the ergophobe (a person who fears work) that I am, I hadn┤t worked for more than three days straight in nearly a year. Boy, I┤m exhausted...
     But I don┤t think the stress of my job has taken its toll upon anyone as much as upon Heimy. The poor Chinese pizza-baker just hasn┤t been himself lately. All he does is mope around, muttering to himself, "╔g het pizza...╔g het pizza...╔g het pizza!" (I hate pizza) Sometimes, a big group of people will come in and when I hand Heimy their order for four or five pizzas, all I┤ll hear is him pausing to read the order, then exclaiming, "SHIT!!!" Poor Heimy...Ëhreppinn Heimy.
     Not that I┤m trying to say Heimy doesn┤t deserve everything he gets. He and I have had our share of disputes. The most common argument we have is when we┤re left alone, and we try to decide who┤s in charge.
     "╔g er bossi­, Heimy!" I yell (I am the boss!).
     "Nei. ╔g er bossi­!" he says. "Sjß­u, Úg hef lykillna!" (See, I have the keys)
     Those keys are a symbol for power. Ooh! Nothing steams me more than knowing I have to take orders from a chubby, 18-year old pizza-baker. The last time we worked together, our argument culminated in me locking him in the walk-in refridgerator and yelling, "Gef­u mig lykillna, Heimy!" (Give me the keys) But, like I┤ve said, he┤s a pretty chubby guy and I think he could stay in the fridge for days.

As I (hope to) travel the world, I need some way of comparing the places I visit.
     Thus, I┤m revealing for you now, the exciting debut of... MODERN ODDYSEUS┤ TOP 5!!!
     The top 5 best things about Iceland:

1. THE SNORKELLING - I suppose if snorkelling is your favorite thing to do in Iceland, it┤s going to be your favorite thing to do in any country. This item may be a mainstay at the top of MODERN ODDYSEUS┤ TOP 5!!! If you┤ve ever wondered what it┤s like to soar above swaying hills of plant labyrinths colored like light-brown M&Ms, you should snorkel in Icelandic kelp.

2. THE FRIENDLY PEOPLE - Though people work hard for their money here, there┤s never an argument over "who┤ll pay the bill?" Money spent on a friend is as good as money spent on yourself. Hitchhikers are welcomed in 1 of 4 cars, and every night I┤ve spent out of Reykjavik somebody has offered their spare bed to me.

3. DANCING AT THOMPSEN - Okay, so 80% of the people who dance in the sweaty, smoky "trance" room here are high on some hard drug. And I think it┤s safe to say I┤m about the only person here not drinking lots. Nevertheless, if you want to dance like crazy until 8 a.m. so that even your arms are sore three days later, this is the place.

4. MY FAVORITE ICELANDIC WORD, "MJËLKUR HRISTINGUR" - This means an ice cream shake in english, and I use it to refer to the shakes I make my co-workers at the pizza place. The best one I┤ve made so far was a blßberja (blueberry) mjˇlkur hristingur. I walked around, saying, "The blueberries that went into this, like myself, come from the Great Lakes of Michigan, and they┤re very, very sweet, also like myself...right, Sigga?" But she didn┤t agree.

5. THE PRETTY GIRLS - The girls here are quite stunning. High cheekbones, thin waists, sharp curves, and good posture. The only parts of their bodies I┤d change are the spots in their brains that tell them to have absolutely no interest in me. One co-worker of mine, ١ra Bj÷rk (who┤s very cute, but engaged) says to me, "The girls must go crazy for you! You like animals, you love kids, and all it takes to make you happy is ice cream." I don┤t know what kids or animals have to do with girls, but I do know that the result of an all-ice cream diet usually has a strictly-negative effect on a person┤s attraction to the opposite sex. But I┤m nearly as frustrated as ١ra Bj÷rk is over my inability to get girls, probably more so. I don┤t mean to complain, but it┤s disheartening to know that I could┤ve weighed twice as much as Heimy, been completely bald, and had only four teeth, and I STILL wouldn┤t have had any less girlfriends than I┤ve had in the past five years. I only wish girls liked me as much as I like me. I think C.E.M. Joad (I don┤t know who he is either?) put it best when he said, "I suffer from a sense of disgusted wonder at the persistent refusal of the rest of the world to take me at my own valuation." Okay, I got a bit off-track there, but now it┤s time for...

The top 5 worst things about Iceland:

1. WORKING AT THE GAY BAR - This is an easy pick. In the eight days I worked there, I encountered an innumerable amount of unspeakable horrors. To this day, the prettiest girl to hit on me (see item # 5, of the "best" section of MODERN ODDYSEUS┤ TOP 5!!!) in Iceland was actually a guy, though he did make a thoroughly convincing and very cute girl in his drag outfit.

2. TOO MUCH WORKING - Being ergophobic, I┤m amazed whenever I┤m hitchhiking and somebody tells me they work from 7 a.m. to midnight five days a week or more. And then on the weekends, there┤s...

3. TOO MUCH DRINKING - I┤m afraid a lot of Icelanders don┤t have much to look forward to except for the next time they┤ll be wasted. There┤s a lot of drunken fighting, a lot of passing out on downtown storefronts, and a lot of vomiting. I get most disturbed every time I see this girl, a kidnergarten teacher, whose version of being too drunk happens only when she┤s no longer able to convince a guy to buy her another drink...I know when I was five, that┤s not how I envisioned Mr. Kinney spending his summer.

4. TOO MUCH SMOKING - Whenever I leave Thompsen (see item # 3, of the "best" section of MODERN ODDYSEUS┤ TOP 5!!!), even my underwear wreaks of cigarrettes! I don┤t know how that┤s possible.

5. IT┤S EXPENSIVE - Some people like to say, "EVERYTHING is more expensive in Iceland!" "It┤s not true," I tell them, "milk is cheaper." And it is. But, that┤s the only thing. Here are some sample prices, in US dollars: a beer at a restaurant - $7 or $8...the cheapest half-gallon of ice cream - $7 (still a deal!)...a notebook - $14 (that┤s not a typo, I said $141!! hmmm, now that was a typo - $14)...some ridiculous, green- and-purple bowl (some sort of art sculpture, I think) that was nearly flat and had crooked edges, and I highly question how well it could hold ice cream - $450.

To put all of this in perspective, I must say Iceland is not the place for me. There just isn┤t enough to do while you┤re sober, I think. Well, actually, there┤s a lot. But I think it requires my warped sense of viewing the world to see the most powerful river in Iceland and think of going down it on a wooden board, ot to see a steep mountain and want to sled down it. I suppose almost anyone, anywhere, would hear my ideas of sober fun and become an alcoholic. Well, I┤ve got two more weeks in Iceland, so we┤ll see what kind of wacky antics I can get up to...and if I┤ve driven any of my subscribers to alcoholism already, my deepest apologies.
     Until next time, "Skßl!" (Drink up!)

later, Modern Oddyseus

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