This is a puffin.
I am not telling you this from personal experience. Sure, I "saw puffins" - the same way you "see Cassiopea" when you're on a first date with some dude and he points in the general direction of the sky and you're like, "Oh yeah! I totally see it!" even though you have no effing clue what he's talking about and are just playing along so he thinks you're romantic and adventurous despite the fact that you're not even sure you really like him anymore after he pulled the very tired constellation seduction bit.
So, right. We plunk down the equivalent of $60 USD to get on the "Puffin Express"- a tiny boat without sufficient seating for the number of people crammed in - and squint at some tiny, microscopic dots off the coast of an island. According to the guide, who recounts insightful tidbits such as "the puffin comes here to lay eggs and then goes off to other countries to live," the island is teeming with puffins. There are puffins everywhere.
Except no one can see them.
Of course it's a loud American with an abrasive Long Island accent who speaks up.
"WHERE ARE THE PUFFINS? I CAN'T SEE THE PUFFINS!"
Bless her - she's thinking what everyone else is thinking (but is too European to say).
"They're right there!" says the guide, pointing at a minute blur of black and white. Everyone squints.
"WHERE?! I CAN'T SEE THEM!" I feel as though I want to hug her, even though she is appalling.
A man with a three-foot telephoto lens rolls his eyes and snickers. Homeboy can see puffin genitals. He is prepared. The rest of are idiot fuckwads with useless aim-and-shoot cameras, frantically snapping pictures at the open sea. In an unhealthy act of optimism, an Italian takes live footage of water on a handheld camera for what will be the most excruciatingly dull home movie ever created.
I put my camera down in defeat and contemplate the fact that I have transformed once again into Mrs. Schwartzfarb, the eighty-nine year old woman in my head who complains about change and noisy music and puffin tours.
I was lead to believe there were going to be puffins, says Mrs. Schwartzfarb with her inside voice. I paid good money to see puffins. I was told there would be baby puffins and that I would have an opportunity to hug them and put them in my pocket. But do you see any puffins? No. And to add insult to injury, this boat is very drafty.
We get off the boat.
"That was dumb," I say to Fauxhawk. "Let's get hotdogs."
All it takes to muzzle Mrs. Schwartzfarb is a hotdog with everything on it eaten on a sunny day. On rare occasions, she is easy to please. Iceland is looking up for Mrs. Schwartzfarb.