“So how did you meet your boyfriend,” one of the girls asked. If still in doubt, just try the same experiment conducted above on your Icelandic friends. Sure, people might first meet other places, but it still takes that trip to the bar for the next step to take place. “There is nothing to do here and besides, people talk.”There is indeed quite a lot to do in Reykjavík compared to towns of similar size, but still the options are limited compared to big cities, the weather is often harsh and things are pretty expensive. ” The cat is out of the bag by now and your first and perhaps only date suddenly feels more like an engagement ceremony. That Icelanders almost always hook up at bars and almost nowhere else is not a subject that needs debate. Said person would give you a curious glance, perhaps followed by a smirk and then ask everyone you mutually know: “Are those two seeing each other?Perhaps a comparison will shed some light: In the film ‘Of Snails and Men,’ recently shown at Bíó Paradís, a Frenchman comes to a small Romanian town and asks a local girl out on a date. It is widely understood that what happens at the bar doesn’t really count.
Of course he has always wanted to go Iceland: tell anybody you used to live here and they’ll say “Really? It must be the exotic name — nobody keeps up that look of awe and wonder when I add that I have also lived in “Wales”. ” It is my ex–boyfriend’s little sister on the other end of the phone.“Remember to take your shoes off whenever we go into someone’s house,” I instruct Conor, on the bus from Keflavik airport. I’m too pleased and flabbergasted to care that I’ve been identified by my poor grasp of the language. Iceland is a small country, I know, but all of a sudden it feels like I’m coming home.Apparently, Iceland is a Matriarchal society, where women rule the family.They are independent and unafraid of making the first move. Of course, as a former journalist, I must examine both sides and I am certain that this does not represent the entire country.“And you have to shower naked at the swimming pools. * * Icelanders are, for the most part, relatively shy people. I’m not sure which, but it’s true that they rarely engage in conversation with strangers.
And there’s no Icelandic word for ‘please’ — so just say ‘takk’ a lot instead.” Conor looks out of the window at the endless fields of black lava. Well, that may have been a slight exaggeration — dating back to when I’d needed to impress him, and hadn’t foreseen the day we’d be on this remote island together where I could be tested. I can probably manage the bare minimum of Icelandic required to get in a taxi and order some food when we get to Reykjavík. It took me nearly a year to become a part of any kind of a social circle when I first moved to Reykjavík.
“It’s a good thing we’ve got your fluent Icelandic for this trip,” he says. Once we’re settled in our rented wooden house I sit up on the windowsill and call the pizza–place down the road. ” An unexpected and potentially confusing question. “So, don’t expect to go making any friends on this trip,” I warn Conor, helpfully. Maybe it’s not the Icelanders, maybe it’s me who’s been shy — I mean, “aloof” — all along.
It’s snowing outside, and dark, although it’s not even four o’clock yet. Icelanders never ask for your last name; there aren’t enough people in the country to justify needing it — even the phonebook is listed alphabetically by first names. By the end of our third day in Reykjavík Conor has made seventeen friends. Oh, just some guys he met at the Aikido club he visited, and look, here comes Jón Þór, the tattoo artist he met yesterday up near the church. “It must be your Irish charm,” I say, later, as we soak at the pool.
And the meeting there will almost always be coincidental. Much better then to wait until the lights go out, everyone you know has gone home, is too drunk to care or engaged in their own business.
People Talk Rather than asking if or how, it’s much more interesting to wonder why this is so. In other words, going out, getting hammered and then heading home with whoever happens to be standing next to you at closing time carries much less social penalty than meeting in broad daylight.
Before you have a hearty chuckle, let me tell you of the ramblings of one of my coworkers.