Iceland doesn’t exist. Trust me, I’ve been there. It’s like this surreal outside-the-real-world land — what a professor might call a “liminal space” but what I call a “magical place” — where rocks are naturally cubic, whales play in the harbor, and everybody looks like Jude Law. Jude Law with a chunky sweater, skinny jeans and a bright red house. And the sun — it doesn’t go away in summer. Ever. So bars are never closed, stores always are, and Icelanders really get the whole “summer love” thing. (That’s maybe why their country’s gone bankrupt.) Thus, I paid special attention to Iceland Air’s economy-class disposable seat headrests that read:
“ ‘Ást’ is the noun for love in Icelandic. But the verb is different. Be careful not to say ‘pú ást mig.’ That means: You ate me. Use the verb ‘elska’ instead.”
Thanks for looking out for me, Iceland Air. I’d hate to accidentally ask someone to eat me.
You see, the language of love doesn’t always translate well. In London, for example, I spent the first two days being super polite because everyone around me was “so well pissed.” I didn’t realize that in Yalie-speak that meant, “I’m really drunk so let’s go to Toad’s and hook-up you silly lovely American girl and you can quote ‘Forrest Gump’ to me and I’ll say something I remember about your country like how about that Sarah Palin, huh?” The Archbishop of Canterbury needs to keep closer tabs on his nephew.
You don’t have to be foreign to have your own language of love, though. In New Orleans this summer, I met an 80-year-old ex-pimp folk artist named Shadow and hung out with him for hours more or less involuntarily. I just wanted to walk around Frenchman Street — he wanted to explain to me his personal philosophy on love: all women want to sleep with him but don’t know it yet, so it’s his job to woo and convince them they do — kind of like mating birds on “Planet Earth.” I quoted the Women’s Center and said that actually, no means no. Beware the dangerous power of charisma — this man could totally have led a cult. But don’t worry, I did escape … $60 short and with an original painting for the Lynwood.
So why DO we all have these different ways of expressing our feelings? Well, I learned the answer to that this summer, too. You see, tens of thousands of years ago a group of ancient human-cylons came to Earth in a Battlestar called Galactica and mixed with Neanderthals to create the modern-day human. And on the “Battlestar Galactica,” love means “frack.” Watch that shit, y’all. It’s deep.