IN class Thursday morning, a few of the women were discussing their affinity for, or aversion to, wearing dresses. I mused to myself that it must be due to the Easter tradition of female fashion and flowers that launched the topic in a math class. Anyway, it was their last math class before spring break so I listened patiently.
Without belaboring the full dialogue, a student asked me if I would ever wear a dress, the entire class chortling as I fumbled my response.
“Not a dress, but a kilt, yes.” I sputtered.
Big eyes all around were followed by the query, “What is a kilt?”
“Best if I show you a picture as I explain,” I answered as I pulled up internet images on the overhead projector.
On the screen, a photogenic young Scot posed in formal kilt wear, the short black jacket with silver buttons above a plaid skirt wrapped by a wide belt and Ghillie brogues with long laces spiraling up white stockings with flashes matching the kilt plaid.
“You dress like that?” asked one student, incredulous and no doubt wondering how weird a man must be to debase himself in a bold plaid skirt.
“What is that thing hanging in the front?” asked another as many tittered.
“A sporran. Kilts have no pockets.” I said.
“Reminds me of a catcher’s cup,” observed another.
The Scots have some unique contributions to the world culture, and I am proud to be Scottish and to have learned something of that heritage. Some of the more unusual contributions are: bagpipes, clan tartans, kilts, whisky (no “e” before the “y”) and haggis.
A polite description of haggis is sheep’s pluck (the organs no one eats) mixed with oatmeal and spices and stuffed into a sheep’s stomach (consumption optional). Sadly, like much else gone soft in our world, there is now gourmet haggis that uses the good meat of lamb and cow. Of course it tastes good; it just lacks tradition.
Friday night, our crew of the Wild Haggis hosted the Second Biennial Belated Burns’ Night supper here at the marina. Just like the customary January 25th Burns’ Night celebrated by the Scots and Scottish diaspora on the anniversary of his birth, we piped in (on iPod) the haggis, toasting it with Burns’ “Ode to a Haggis” (see video of reading below) and a wee dram of single malt. The Glenfiddich was especially popular even among those who do not usually drink Scotch of any sort. The gourmet haggis was proclaimed “best ever” by all who tasted haggis for the first time.
Bill on Charisma arrived this past Monday afternoon ahead of two days of rain and several days of adverse northerlies. He and his parrot, Papagayna, mostly recovered from a long (350 mile) non-stop jaunt offshore and up the ICW. Had they not made Oriental, they would have been stuck at anchor in Mile Hammock Bay on USMC Camp Lejeune, a well-protected anchorage with no services and landing not permitted. Instead, they have enjoyed unlimited power for their heater, and Bill can walk a couple blocks to The Bean for coffee or the Tiki Bar for other drinks.
Despite being comfortable at dock and happy to have some down time in Oriental (“what better place to be stuck?” says Bill), he has been away from his lakeside mountain home for several months and is ready to return. But wind and rain delay him still, so he joined us for haggis while he suffers over the poor weather forecast for the next several days, hoping and searching for a window that will let him sail north.
The Laughing Gulls are quiet today, the rain dampening their humor. But other days, they persistently wreck our sunrise peace and terrorize our docks with rude cackling and courting and guano without end.