Odin, Iceland and the American Way

Odin tries to save Iceland: “I felt obliged to do something about this harmful invasion.”

The name’s Odin. As a more or less benevolent Norse deity, I once directed some Norwegians adrift in the North Atlantic to the previously uninhabited heap of basalt now called Iceland. These formerly lost souls became hearty Icelanders… and their descendants continued to be hearty Icelanders until 2008, when the government decided that terrorism — sorry — tourism would be the best way to acquire filthy kronur.

Odin & Sigrífa
After being put to sleep by Odin and being awoken by the hero Sigurd, the valkyrie Sigrífa says a pagan prayer. Illustration (1911) by Arthur Rackham, Public Domain.

Soon vast hordes of tourists, mostly of the American variety, were invading the island. Old farms turned into B&B’s and dirt roads became highways clogged with tourist buses and rent-a-cars. Local restaurants were replaced by KFCs, Subways, Taco Bells and Pizza Huts. A man was using a leaf blower in a place where there were almost no leaves, and when his neighbors complained about the noise, he replied, “But it’s the American way.” He made this remark in English, Iceland’s most popular language.

I felt obliged to do something about this harmful invasion, so I caused a giant volcano to erupt in downtown Reykjavik. The result? Hundreds of selfie-taking tourists next to the eruption.

I turned the water in the Blue Lagoon jet black, whereupon more tourists visited it than before, since a sign saying “Black Lagoons Matter” was placed at the entrance. I asked customs officials to make each new visitor eat a chunk of hakarl (the food writer Anthony Bourdain called this rot-cured shark’s meat the worst thing he’d ever eaten), but the officials turned down my request.

Then I spoke to a bunch of tourists myself, telling them to please stop wreaking havoc on Iceland. The expressions on their faces seemed to say, “Hey, we’re Americans, so we can’t help wreaking havoc.” But I did hear one older gentleman say, “Iceland is a helluva lot easier than Vietnam.”

In the end, I gave up and went to a Taco Bell, where I sat down and wrote the story you’re now reading while munching on a grilled cheese burrito.

Lawrence Millman
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