Jun 24, 2010 | Siglufjörður, Iceland
Jun 24, 2010

HOL was playing KAM on TV.

The Dutch fans were like strapping frat boys with blonde hair, big egos, and impeccable posture, all in Day-Glo orange. The Cameroon fans were humbler, wearing black bomber jackets, and there was a Rasta women swaying around. When Holland went up 2-1 with just a few minutes to go, the camera went back to the Rasta woman, but she wasn't swaying around anymore.

I was in the bar and the place was filling up. The bar is also the pizza restaurant, and I was having a San Franscico, which has pepperoni, olives, and onions. That and a big beer. I am usually the only one in there, but tonight all the tables were full. The only free one was a table for four, facing the TV, so when I got there I took it. I knew other people would come and look at the table, and that it would be awkward, with all of those empty chairs around me, but I took the table anyway.

Pretty soon, some old men came in, smelling of cigarettes, and I motioned to the shortest one for him to take one of my chairs, which he did. He thanked me emphatically with exaggerated gesticulations of gratitude, and then he swung the chair around to where his friends were sitting.

At the table behind us, next to the wall, there was a man who was very drunk. He was wearing an Adidas track suit, which seems to be high fashion here in Iceland. He kept standing up, stumbling around where the other tables were, and sitting down again.

The short old man who took my chair did not approve of this behavior. He kept motioning to me as if to say, "Don't look at this — don't look over here — Iceland is not really like this," to keep me from seeing the drunk man.

But I have seen many drunk men, and I could see this one, too.

The drunk man kept trying to sit down in the free chair next to me at my table, but the short old man was having none of it. He kept blocking the seat with his hand, and shooing away the drunk man as you would shoo away a bumblebee.

The drunk man went outside for a while, and then he came back and sat down next to me, when the short man wasn't looking. The short man got very upset, and motioned to me to say he was sorry. I said it was really ok, but he did not speak any English so it didn't matter what I said.

The short man got up and went to the counter, to tell the woman about the drunk man sitting next to the tourist. The woman went through the swinging door into the kitchen, and once the door had stopped swinging, a burly man came through it and walked over to where we were sitting, looking around at the crowd.

The short man pointed to me and the drunk man, wiggling his finger back and forth so the burly man could see who it was.

The burly man came over and tapped the drunk man on the head. The drunk man got up quickly, and they went outside together. I was sad for the drunk man, and I really didn't mind him sitting next to me.

The short man slid into the drunk man's chair beside me.

"Holland?" he said.

"What?" I said.

"You," he said.

"Me?" I said. "I'm from the the U.S."

"Ehh?" he said.

"USA," I said.

"USA!" he said.

"Fish man," he said, pointing at himself. "Fish. Sea. Boat," he said, making a swimming motion. "Fish man."

"You are a fisherman," I said.

He nodded excitedly, and said, "Yah!"

"I am an artist," I said.

"Ohhh," he said, but I do not think he understood.

"How long?" he said.

"How long in Iceland?" I said.

"Siglufjörður," he said.

"Three months," I said.

"Three days?" he said.

"Three months," I said.

"Three months?!" he said, shaking his head like he had just dunked it into a bird bath.

"Siglufjörður three months!" he said. "I am fishman. Three days in Siglufjörður ok."

"Yes, it is a long time, but I like it here," I said.

"Married?" he said, grabbing my hand to look for rings.

"No, not married," I said.

A devilish smirk came onto his face and he looked around the bar. "Iceland beautiful. Girls. Iceland girls," he said.

"I don't know," I said.

He leaned back, looking disappointed, but still kept holding my hand.

"Well, maybe," I said, to give him some hope.

"Maybe! Maybe! Yes, maybe!" he said, suddenly very excited.

He told me his name and I told him my name and we shook hands. Then he transitioned from the handshake into more of a clasp, and he pulled my head down onto his neck, so my cheek was touching his sweater, and he kissed me on the forehead. Then he pushed my head down some more and kissed the top of my head, which, there in the crowded bar, was much more awkward than sitting next to several empty chairs.

But then it was much sweeter, too.