Dateline Reykjavik, Sunday May 30th 2010 19:30
Almost twenty-fours hours on and the celebration is slowly waining, though brief flares of revelry still light the crowds like a twinkle in Bacchus' eye. Drink, dance and general debauchery are slowly receding in a tide of hang-over and hunger, a kind of hazy sweet happiness seeps across the gathered crowd here at Húsdýragarður. Long disorderly lines of beer-soaked revelers blend with sun-addled kiddies and tired seniors clucking their tongues like a Greek chorus of unbelieving poultry, waiting for a paper plate full of roasted flesh, the former denizens of the park offered up in joyous sacrifice to feed the teeming masses, served up by the two glowing lights of Iceland's brave new world.
Jón Gnar, honorable mayor of Reykjavik mans the massive grills, bloody knife in hand, slicing slivers of charred flesh, ginger hair askew and war-painted with zinc oxide, while the triumphant Reubenesque nymphs of Hera Björk's Eurovision team shake hands, sign babies, and serve up the platters, showered in praise, proposals marital or simply carnal, and the incandescent adoration of their ecstatic countrymen.
No one really believed it would happen. Despite Iceland's long-running and nigh-religious devotion to the Eurovision song contest, despite the polls showing Bestur Flokkurinn with a commanding lead, most seemed resigned to the idea that it would all be for naught on the night, just as the parties that rode regally into power on the crest of Búsahaldsbýltingin ushered in not a glorious renewal but a staggering, plodding, tragicomic continuation of business as usual.
But we doubting Tómasar got our collective asses handed to us by the raging tide of fate. Je ne sais quois thundered across Europe like a conquering army, the 12-points pouring in one after another (save for sour-puss Britain and glowering Holland) in the single biggest win in the history of the contest, making Lordy's Hard Rock Halelluia victory look lukewarm by comparison.
Men wept and women charged into the street, hurling confetti and bearing breasts to the late lingering sun in orgiastic glee. Wild chants of “Best í heimi!” rocked the streets to their very foundations.
Hard on the heels of our stunning artistic victory, Bestur Flokkurinn, a party so dark horse as to be equine obsidian won not a majority, not a pure majority, but every single seat on the city council clearing the decks of decades of political detritus in one fell swoop. In a matter of hours, Reykjavik was free of the four-party yolk.
Every street, every park, parking lot, play-ground, and pub filled to bursting with weeping smiling dancing throngs. “Best í Heimi!” blending with chants of “Lífi Nonní!”. Bonfires were lit in public parks, and employees of the state-run liquor stores pulled keys from their pockets and threw wide the doors to their cornucopian stores, the police wisely staying clear, moving instead to pointlessly protect the homes of four-party hierarchy, ignored by revelers.
The dancing and drinking, the thunderous rolling French choruses that built and crested only to build again continued into the wee hours, and as the sun rose improvised loudspeakers, strapped to buses decorated with the triumphant raised thumb of the our bright new hope chattered out the message.
“Húsdýragarður! Koffí og brauð! Tónlist! Grillveislu! Í bóði Bestur Flokkurinn!”
A mass of humanity, marching up Laugarvegur in shameless disregard for the traditional parade trajectory swallowed me up and I swam along the crowd, kissing and kissed, hugged and hugging, more than once groped.
I grab my steaming plate and plastic spork, taking the opportunity to slip a sloppy tongue kiss to one of the blissed out background singers, the blond, and then weave my way through the throng to the now-empty reindeer pen, it former inhabitants like all the edible denizens now turning lazy circles on the spits or flip-flopping on the grills.
I hunker down in a half-circle of rough stone overlooking the park, coping a squat next to a bleary eyed middle-aged gent in a X-Æ T-shirt under a stained and frayed sports jacket. We sit in companionable silence staring down the hill at the five blond beauties (and one random fat guy), naked save rainbow droplets as they perform a impromptu synchronized swimming number in the now empty seal pond.
Popping a bloody piece of seal kidney into my beery mouth I ask my dining partner if he was a supporter or a member of our new glorious vanguard.
“Oh, I'm a member alright” he giggles, clearly the worst for drink. “I'm the one whose going to make sure this whole thing pays off.”
“Whatdayamean?” slips from my beer-addled lips like an exhausted salmon down a mountain cascade who's figured spawning is just way too much effort.
“All very hush shush you know” he slurs, bits of spittle seeping out the sides of his slack lips, “I'm not at library to say really, not save for pubic knowledge”.
Needless to say his stammered collection of málvillur collapsed me into a state of giggles too paralyzing to press the question further.
Regaining my breath with the aid of my last looted lager, I feel a brief chill down my spine at my now-depart meal mate's words, but I shake it off, reminding myself that the undiscovered country is rarely as here-there-be-dragons as we tend to think. My rubbery legs to lead me out the main gate and stagger home.
Catching my breathe after slogging up to Laugavegur, I stare out over the mad victory carnival filling Laugardal and smile. A line of buses, private cars and taxis has lined up, those sober enough to drive offering rides to the car-less and the intoxicated. An elderly woman holds a hand-made sign with “Hlíðum” spelled out in black marker and I stumble over, ask if I can get a ride, and am cheerfully helped into the back seat of a the old Lada, soon sandwiched between a lovely young brunette and a frightfully drunk business type, mumbling something about Ragnarök and pale horses under his breath. We roll down the window and let him ride with his head out, wind in his thinning hair like a follicly challenged bulldog.
The brunette politely turns down my offer (made more out of habit than desire, 24 hours of solid drink and all I want is bed, alone) and I fumble my keys, stagger out of my boots, and collapse grateful and happy into my bed, the sun still shining and hoarse-throated choruses of Je ne sais quois lullabying me to rest.