If your idea of elves comes straight out of Tolkien, you might not want to read any further. In Iceland, elves are not quite the smooth white-skinned Liv Taylor, Cate Blanchett, and Orlando Bloom types. Icelandic elves are much more grotty. The following was submitted by my favorite contributor to The Iceland Review, Jóhannes Benediktsson and is a direct quote from his November 14 posting:
There are few theories about where elves come from, according to the Icelandic folktales.
The one most commonly cited, describes God’s journey to Paradise. He visits Adam and Eve, who salute him and show him how they live. They introduce him to the kids, but leave out the dirty ones. God knows about this and states, that what is to be hidden from him, shall also be hidden from everyone else. The unclean children then go on living in hills and stones, and their descendants are what we call elves.
There are more stories about elves and their origin, all referring to some Bible events in one way or another. My favorite is a bit strange. It includes Adam and Eve, like the one mentioned above, but takes another approach. It describes their relationship problem.
I have re-written this story as a two-hander play. I call it Trouble in Paradise and have very high hopes that it will one day reach Broadway.
TIME: Close to midnight.
MUSIC: Barry White.
The scene starts with Eve entering the room. Adam is lying on a bed of roses, running his index finger suggestively over Eve’s side of the bed.
ADAM: Hello, cupcakes! How about getting naked?
EVE: You mean lose the fig leaf?
EVE: Knock it off, you idiot! I’m not in the mood.
ADAM: Oh, come on! You never are!
Eve starts to get into the bed and goes to sleep, leaving Adam heartbroken once again. He walks away from her and talks to the audience.
ADAM: This is my life. God has sentenced me to live with a frigid woman for all eternity and calls it Paradise. That’s rubbish! I’m a passionate man, who needs a flame in his life – a fire! Why didn’t he create someone like that for me?
He looks at Eve, sights and then looks back to the audience.
ADAM: I guess I’ll have to do with some solo-action once again. Enjoy your popcorn.
TIME: Nine months later.
MUSIC: Not Barry White.
Eve walks back and forth on the stage. She is furious. This morning, a bunch of babies appeared out of nowhere on their doorsteps. They all look like little versions of Adam.
EVE: Who is she?!
EVE: That bimbo you’ve been cheating with!
ADAM: I promise. You are literally the only woman in my life.
EVE: I don’t believe you. How do you explain the children?
ADAM: A miracle of God?
Eve starts throwing apples at Adam, who runs in a silly manner around the stage. A thundering voice comes from above, overwhelming both of them. It’s God.
GOD: Stop this nonsense, both of you. I’ll explain what happened. Do you remember, Adam, nine months ago when you did that… guy thing?
ADAM: Erm… are you talking about the …
GOD: Yes, yes!
EVE: What guy thing?
GOD (ignoring Eve): Well… some of that got into a hole in the soil. And that soil somehow got pregnant and… well… these are your children. Their descendants will be known as elves.
Eve starts shouting and the throwing of apples once again and Adam seeks a shelter behind a tree. Avoiding the missiles, Adam turns his head humbly to the sky with one final question.
ADAM: God. Can you tell me one thing?
ADAM: Why did you make her like that?
GOD: It amuses me.
ADAM: I thought so.
Curtains fall again. The show’s over.
By the way, Gin unlike Tolkien, Icelandic elves can do nasty things. Perhaps I’ll tell you about some of them one of these days.