On our second day in Iceland, my friend and I decided to visit the local hot springs. In the hot tub, a woman came and sat near us.
“You look really familiar,” she told me.
“Where are you from?” I asked.
“America,” she said. Well, yeah. I got that.
We did the whole where-are-you-from, where-did-you-go-to-school, etc., and found no hidden connection. “Were you on the trip to see the Northern Lights last night?” my friend asked. Yeah. That was it. The connection was from being in Iceland.
The woman, whom I will call Susie (mainly because I can’t actually remember her name), started telling us about her PhD program. She was a TA, she said. That was the last normal thing one would tell a stranger during small talk that came out of her mouth.
Susie proceeded to tell us that she hated everyone in her program, because they all hook up with each other and she’s too professional to get involved in that kind of debauchery. She launched into a long story about a man in her program who routinely teaches class drunk. One time, she said, he arrived so drunk that he began throwing up and eventually passed out after writhing in a pool of his own vomit in front of his class. Despite her efforts to get him fired, she said, he still works there.
Susie also informed us that her students routinely bring guns to class.
“As you do,” I said.
When we left the hot springs, my friend turned to me. “I feel like we can safely talk about what just happened now,” she said.
“I was trying not to make eye contact with you,” I told her. “That just happened.”