Ásmundur Ásmundsson

Reykjavik - Worlds within Worlds

I will by no means ever forget the day my Russian ladyfriend Lazutina came to my fatherland last October. Of course, only time itself will tell if this will always be an unforgettable day in my mind. I can only hope to experience more days like that one (or better) when the day comes to say goodbye to my wild life, and to my other half, who at the moment happens to be Lazutina, now my devoted wife.

I did not expect her to have a fresh haircut when she arrived, but she did and it took me few seconds to identify her good-looking Russian face. The populace in the aerodrome also seemed to be knocked for six by her hair, it was that funky. She was living in New York then, and as we all know fashion and style changes rapidly in the "Big Apple". Reykjavik is not as quick on the draw as NY, but it didn't take long for her to fit in flawlessly with the local hipsters. They took to her funky-fresh style like a duck to water. But I'm getting ahead of my story.

She was in a high-quality mood when she arrived, and she even took her time to accolade the airplane food to a good-looking stewardess who happened to be waiting for a black cab as Lazutina was having her first smoke in five hours. She looked awesome smoking, by the way, and all the American tourists kept sneaking glances as they waited for their luggage. The stewardess must have noticed as well, because she moved away from Lazutina pretty quickly.

She was keener about her visit after the flight than before, thanks to the great tips for tenderfoots in Icelandair's in-flight magazine. Atlantica (as the magazine is known) always gives a constructive representation of Icelandic culture, and I was quite proud when she showed me pictures of some local bands and artists and said they gave her the impression that Icelanders were up-to-the-minute in many perspectives (she had taken a complimentary copy with her). She was also totally stoked about going to the Blue Lagoon, thanks to an ad in the back of the magazine. But that would have to wait - I looked forward to seeing her cavorting in the hot sulfurous waters, but there would be enough time for that later.

We jumped into my mini and sped to my flat, had good sex, and napped for a few hours. When we woke up it was time to check out the nightlife. I'm not exaggerating when I say she had the time of her life, thanks to Atlantica's nightlife guide, which took us to clubs that even I, a native Icelander with hot Viking blood cursing through my veins, had never discovered. Up till that moment I had looked at myself as quite au fait when it came to the jungle of the night, but I was delighted to find that the jungle still held mysteries to be discovered. Sweet!

The day after we had to tear ourselves away from the soiled bed sheets and each other, and after a protein-heavy breakfast at the Grey Cat Café - where she expressed her delight at being able to smoke - we looked at some funky minimalism at I8 gallery, and some of the wildest installation kunst I have seen at the Living Art Museum. Wicked.

We then went window-shopping in the main drag, and Lazutina enjoyed looking at the great craftsmanship of our artisans, and I made a mental note to buy her a little something. I also had to pick up some more condoms at a drugstore, so with the excuse of buying her some strong Opal candy for her to taste I took care of that little business. Her freckled nose wrinkled when she tasted the candy, but I reminded her it would give her good breath. The condoms were safe in my pocket.

That night we went to see a play by Halter Slackness, the only Icelandic Nobel prize winner (so far). Lazutina, who grew up in The Stanislavski Theatre in Moscow, told me it was one of the best-acted plays she had ever seen. Her beautiful eyes were glistening with tears when the play was over, and her delicate hands were sore from clapping so much. Little did she know that many of the people at the theater spent as much time looking at her flattering outfit as they did to the great actors. I could've sworn I even saw some of the characters on the stage give her some appreciative glances here and there. Luckily, I am not the jealous kind. "You can look, but don't touch" is my motto, and it's served me well all these years. During intermission, we met a great friend of mine, Hallgrim Helgason (author of 101 Reykjavik, a modern classic about generation X and Reykjavik's nightlife), who recently wrote a novel about Mr. Slackness where the Nobel Prize winner was portrayed as a nasty communist and a fool. Some of us were quite hurt by that, but I immediately forgave him when he said that the play was interesting. Afterwards we went bar-hopping in downtown Reykjavik. We started off with Café Opera, a nice comfy bar with elegant throng and great service. And best of all, we don't have to tip - it's included in the service.

We then went to Atlantica's highest recommended bar: The Café Bar, where Reykjavik's celebrities let it all hang out. I scored big points with my Slavic honey when I introduced her to her favourite soul singer, Bjork, and her husband, my favourite painter Matthew Barney. And we got autographs from Jon, the singer and lyricist of Sigur Ros, for Lazutina's little Chechyan nephew. Lazutina was as delighted as a drunken child that for a moment I thought she was going to have sex with me in the middle of the dance floor! The Café Bar is owned by a Brit, Damon Albarn, and is as its owner quite wild when it comes to sexual matters, so it wouldn't have been that outrageous if she had. But to tell you the truth, I'm glad she didn't. All in all, a most excellent night that ended with rough sex on my kitchen floor. We were making so much noise we might have scared the hell out of our downstairs neighbors, but I think they had gone out to a rave.

Lazutina had after only a short stay given me a new perspective on Icelandic culture. For that, I am truly grateful. Next time a "friend" pays me a visit from abroad I won't forget to remind them to check out Atlantica magazine, and while they're at it to snap up a copy for me. There are worlds within worlds to be discovered.

The III Magazine, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2001