föstudagur, mars 24, 2006

the colorful regulars of laugardalslaug

On many days after work, E and I go to the largest Reykjavík swimming pool, Laugardalslaug, or washing-valley-pool. (I sometimes refer to this as the "daily driver" of Reykjavík pools.) This pool is popular with tourists in the summer (such as the infamous American mother-daughter combo talking loudly about "going into Rake-javv-ick" the next day, not realizing they were already there) but in the colder months we have the place all to ourselves. Well, us and the Regulars. Here is just a partial listing of the characters that make the daily-driver experience what it is:

Steven Seagal: one of the men's locker room attendants, he has a Seagal-esque ponytail and one time fetched me a towel when mine was stolen by several members of an unruly visiting swim team. So he's a nice guy. But I think, if called to it, he could kick some serious ass. Maybe even pull off a floor-mop beating or two.

High School Principal Man: a hot tub regular, so called because to me he looks like he was once a high school principal. He just has the look. But now he spends his days soaking up the steam and talking to his cronies out in massaging hot pot #2.

Iceland shield guy: this German guy was a competitor in Iceland Idol, and is also a sometimes-Regulah at the Daily Drivah. The thing about him is that he has the entire Icelandic coat of arms tatooed on his chest. In full color. No joke. I envy that level of commitment to the Land, or really to anything.

Steve Martin: another of the men's locker room crew, he has a head of silver hair and back before the new locks were installed was a diligent token-emptier in the vast forest of lockers. I keep expecting him to say, "Half double decaf half-calf, with a twist of lemon." But mostly he just mops.

not-only-a-desk-lady, also-a-client-lady: she works the main desk, always looking elegant as she checks ID and says "góðan daginn" with a matronly hint of recognition. But then sometimes just minutes later, she'll be seen, elegant as ever, sitting at the edge of the family hot tub with her hair still impeccably coiffed. I'm glad she believes enough in the pool to want to visit it after she's worked an entire desk shift.

Quasimodo: the dark-haired evil genius of the men's locker room staff. He's always hunched over a mop, or leaning on one, growling at one of his old-man customer buddies. One time he yelled at me when I had to go back into the locker area to help a visiting friend close his locker, because I was wet from the shower. So I try to avoid him now, evil genius that he is.

humping-the-nuddpottur-guy: perhaps the single most dishturbing human being north of Newfoundland, this guy is seen thankfully only sporadically. He's got stringy hair and a beard and gut and wears strange bathing suits, something like 1980s "jams" that were once colorful, but now retain only faded glory. When he's in the nuddpottur (massaging hot tub) he's often standing on the seat backwards with his body facing one of the water jets, holding onto the safety fence bars with both hands and humping up and down, in what is usually an all-out hot-tub-clearing maneuver. One time I saw him in the showers afterward, sitting on the floor of a shower stall, legs in the lotus position, water pouring down on his stringy head.

"gaman að sjá þig!": The quintessential regular, and the one who always brings a smile to my face, this is one smiley and cheerful character. He looks young, younger than me at least, and his face is always full of happiness and surprise. Since he is there so much, he recognizes almost everyone, and greets them with, "Gaman að sjá þig og takk fyrir síðast!" ("Great to see you and thanks for last time!") He's always trying to rope other regulars (usually old men) into long conversations in the locker room or the hot tubs. He seems to spend hours at the pool: once I saw him on his way out as I was coming in and when I was done with swim, steaming, and soaking over an hour later, he was still showering and drying off, chatting up a storm with anyone around him, and sometimes nobody is around him. But his cheerfulness is contagious.

bluebeard guy and his girlfriend: they're always swimming laps and then talking American English together in the hot tubs. Sometimes when they want to talk about some other Americans they'll switch to Icelandic. He seems to like the nuddpottur, and she the steam room, so sometimes they split up. Oh wait, that's me and E. I guess we're Regulars, too. At least High School Principal Man thinks so. He always nods a "hello" at me on his way out of the steam room.


Anonymous Arni said...

How's that story again about "gaman að sjá þig!" guy and his girlfriend?


Blogger EnuhCorK said...

Let's post more information about Jams...when are they coming back in fashion? How about clam diggahs?

Anonymous John D said...

Ahhh...your translation of the pool name makes sense to me, now that I know of the washer woman memorial behind the hostel. (there is a Geocache hidden in that area by the way!)

I guess I need to hurry up an move there, so I can be a regualar too!

Blogger Maja said...

Oh wow, I think I love the humping-the-nuddpottur guy! I'd pay just to see him. I love how in Iceland strange people like him, and the "gaman að sjá þig!" are so well tolerated. It's nice and when they're accepted, they're pretty harmless.

Blogger JB said...

Trust me, you really don't want to see the nuddpottur-humping guy. I think you should pay *not* to see him. However that would work.

But "gaman að sjá þig" is a great guy.

Anonymous Hulda Katrín said...

Pink towel! Pink towel,,allways bring a pink towel to the swimmingpool,,no guy steals a pink towel! Fastagestur sundlaugar told my that is the trick to avoid the crisis of "lost towel"! Always fun to read your and E blog!
Hulda Katrín

Blogger JB said...

Swimming pool update: yesterday at Laugardalslaug we saw a regular parade o' regulars:

- Steven Seagal, looking deadly with mop in hand
- Iceland shield guy, lounging in the babes-and-kids hot tub
- "gaman að sjá þig!", grinning broadly as he led his woman out of the b-and-k hot tub
- nuddpottur-humper, in pink pants and a penis hat

...and Hulda K, that's not quite true. My second of two stolen towels was actually pretty close to pink. A light maroon kind of thing. ("It was pretty pink," sez E.) With a frayed edge. I hope when those towel-stealers end up in hell, they have to spend eternity in the dirty-towel sorting division.

Blogger Kieran said...

I love this site. You'd be surprised how much time I've spent wondering what Iceland is like to live in. I'd like to think the population mostly consists of yourself, Bjork, Gudjohnsen and Sigur Ros, but I'm going to read all your posts to find out.

Blogger JB said...

Welcome, Kieran, I think you've come to the right place!

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

Wow, we saw at least half of those people last week (minus the strange Americans going "Icelandic secure" to talk about other útlendinga, maybe because we were too busy doing the same thing ourselves) last week. Very accurate descriptions.


Blogger JB said...

B, I love "Icelandic secure"... we are going to be using that phrase from now on, as we go Icelandic secure all the time, especially when on trips in Europe or Bandaríkjunum.


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