Northern Sights -- The Reykjavik Grapevine

Northern Sights

Published January 14, 2015

A regular column of inaccurate observations and outright lies

York Underwood
Photo by
York Underwood

A regular column of inaccurate observations and outright lies

I moved to Iceland to get away from my friends and family. I don’t hate them, but I was beginning to think they were stopping me from reaching my full potential. My friends were always showing up at my house and forcing me to have fun. My family was always concerning themselves with my welfare and life choices. I needed, much like Superman, a fortress of solitude, a place far from Canada and, preferably, warmer.

Iceland seemed to be the perfect place. I would be able, much like Superman, to study the history of my adopted ancestors—I’m not Icelandic, but I’m tall and drink like a Viking—and carve out my destiny.

This is my journal.

Week 1

The Land of Ice and Wieners

A strange feeling takes over your mind when you gaze into the eyes of a 10-foot-mural of Mickey Rourke while sitting on a curb at 4 am downing your third hotdog of the night—trying desperately to brush cronions (onion croutons) off your lap. I, much like Superman, was staring at a familiar disembodied face, but, unlike Superman, this was not my father. It was the very face of North American Cultural Imperialism and, recently, faux-boxing, bum fighting.

My desire for food when I’m drinking is vastly outweighed by my ability to consume it politely. While maintaining eye-contact with Mr. Rourke, I continued to deep-throat my hotdog while gasping for breath through my nostrils—blowing more cronions onto my lap. This bizarro masticating fellatio continued until my olfactory panting captured a sauce-covered-nugget and abducted it straight into my nasal passage.

My sneeze blew off all the condiments and left my partially-eaten-wiener naked and alone in its crumbling bun. I felt a burning sensation begin to travel down my nose and onto my lip. I placed out my cupped hand to catch the lava like substance flowing out of me. It was black and slimy with the consistency of dried blood.

With Mickey Rourke continuing to watch over me, I examined, fearfully, what appeared to be my brains leaking out of my head. Was this it? Was Iceland the place that finally killed me? Was it the beer, the Brennivín, or the wieners? The pool of my internal fluids followed the natural shape of my hand and began to look like the map of Iceland. I pondered my place in this world. I, much like Superman, appeared to float above the earth and examine it. I sat on a curb with cronions and brown sauce all over my pants—locating myself just below my West Fjords fingers nestled in the crook of my thumb, Reykjavík.

I was disturbed from my astral-projection by the earthy aroma of tobacco. I, unlike Superman, read ‘Independent People,’ which I purchased at the airport Eymundsson on my way home from my last visit. In the novel, the characters sit around and drink pots of coffee while snorting tobacco and discussing animal husbandry. I, unlike Superman, tend to try anything once.

The mucous map was the push back, the response to Mickey Rourke, Iceland’s own cultural imperialism. It’s not fair to say this is what Iceland means to Icelanders, but I don’t think North America would choose Mickey Rourke as a representative (well, actually, they probably would. Right California?). I was persuaded, much like Superman, to fit in, to adopt my adopted nation’s customs: however archaic they may be.

The only thing that is certain is wieners. Iceland does love hotdogs and soon I will too. I wiped my hand in the snow, stood to my feet, and walked towards the taxi line. I let gravity clean my pants. I, much like Superman, had a lot to learn about my new home.

An aside observation:

Icelandic hotdogs snap with every bite due to the crispy nature of lamb intestines when they’re cooked. Earlier that week, I had bought a pack of lamb wieners at the grocery store, Bónus, to take home with me, but my hot plate is too finicky and it seared them—causing the the natural casing to crack and for steam to whistle through. It was horrific. The lamb wieners were screaming.


York Underwood is a journalist, writer and comedian from Canada. He’s currently living in Hafnarfjörður, Iceland, next to a fisheries’ ice house. He’s also trying to learn Icelandic. He makes poor decisions. 

Rourke 2

Rourke 3

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