On Halloween, the second biggest holiday in the gay world, I'm sitting in the Culiacan Mexican Grill in Revkjavik, Iceland, spending $20 for a tasteless burrito.
Back home there is an endless round of parties, dinners, parades. You spend weeks deciding on the best costume, putting up decorations, buying candy for the trick-or-treaters (in gay neighborhoods, cute guys, not kids).
They don't celebrate Halloween here.
Why am I in Reykjavik? And not in West Hollywood, or New York, or even back home on the Plains?
Yuri is so deeply rooted in gay culture, living in the heart of London's gay neighborhood, hanging out only with gay men, discussing masculine beauty and gigantic penises at every opportunity, that it is difficult to imagine him outside that world. But in fact, he's a well-known atmospheric scientist who has published important research on climate change.
He has brought five of his advanced students to Iceland to see the aurora borealis, and test how they have changed due to global warming. Something about emission spectrography and astronometric oscillations. I'm along for the ride.
I was hesitant: from what I recalled from my college field trip, Iceland was cold and barren, with no gay culture.
""You are joking!" Yuri scoffed. "It's not cold, it's as nice as New York. And Iceland is the most gay country in Europe! Even the prime minister is gay!"
[Actually, the lesbian Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir, was in office from 2009 to 2013]
Granted, it's not cold: 42 degrees Fahrenheit, about the same as on the Plains, maybe even a little warmer. The sun rises about 45 minutes later, and sets about 45 minutes earlier, no big deal."
But there's no gay culture. One gay bar, only open on weekends, one mixed restaurant, no bathhouses, no bookstores, no gay churches, no gay neighborhoods. Gay people are completely assimilated.
Anyway, he goes to bed at 9:00 pm, since the scientific studies take place at 3:00 am. I went once: sitting on lawn chairs at Thingvellir National Park, drinking hot chocolate from thermos bottles and taking radiometric measurements. Not my thing.
So I'm mostly on my own. I've been to the National Museum, the National Gallery, the Art Museum, and the Museum of the Penis by myself. Yuri and I have had lunch and dinner, and hung out at Kiki, the city's mixed gay bar, without picking up anyone -- it's for socializing, not for cruising.
In four days I've only met one local guy, Bjorn, and he was actually Yuri's hookup. I was just along for the ride.
His students are cute -- five guys in their early 20s, fresh-faced science students, boisterous and energetic. But I don't even know if they're gay, and besides, I can't cruise Yuri's students. I'm like a chaperone.
Today I ran into two of them in the lobby of our hotel, texting on their smartphones: Jon is tall, with thick brown hair and a heavy-lidded, Mediterranean look. Maury is a redhead, short and rather buffed, with horn-rimmed glasses that make him look middle-aged.
"Happy Halloween!" I said brightly. "Fara til rethur safninu?" Are you going to the penis museum?
They stared, puzzled. "Sorry, just practicing my Icelandic. Where are you guys off to today?"
"Haukadalur," Jon said. "The neovolcanic zone with geysirs and hot springs."
"Not as much fun as trick-or-treating, I'll bet."
Maury grinned. "Dr. B. told us about you living together in Florida. I'll bet you had some fun Halloweens there."
I was too nervous to say anything more.
I dump my tasteless $20 burrito and head to Hreyfing Heilsulind, a gym with day memberships. At least I can get a decent workout in, and maybe get some sausage sightings in the steam room.
Nope. Only a couple of older guys in the cardio room, no one in the steam room.
Kiki, the queer bar, has a Halloween display. Rather a low key things, ghosts and Frankenstein monsters surrounded by orange crepe. Anyway, it's closed today.
I go to Bokavarthan, Reykjavik's used bookstore, and find, of all things, a German book about cowboys. Then a whale burger at Grillmarkathurinn, and back to the hotel to watch The Simpsons with Icelandic subtitles. It's the annual Halloween Special.
Suddenly there's a knock on the door: Yuri and Maury, wearing devil horns and carrying plastic bags with pumpkins on them.
"Trick or treat!" Maury yells. "I've always wanted to say that."
"We bring you a Halloween party," Yuri says.
I put my arm around Maury, feel his tight shoulders, run my hand over his earlobe. He moves his elbow down to my crotch. I become aroused.
Suddenly Yuri stands up. "It's late -- I must go to bed. But you guys stay here, finish the movie, have fun."
After Yuri leaves, Maury says "You don't really want to finish the movie, do you?"
I take the ipod from his hand. "I know how it turns out. Omri Katz moves to Israel and goes to work in gay porn."
Maury has a very firm, muscular physique, more buffed than you would expect, and a very thick Bratwurst+. He's an anal top, but willing to settle for 69, with cuddling and kissing afterwards.
In the morning I go down on him again, and top him between the legs. Then he says "Rethur safninu í dag?" Do you want to go to the penis museum today?
I stare in embarrassment. "You knew what I was saying yesterday?"
See also: Bjorn's Hookup with His Teacher; The Icelandic Penis Museum