Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mill Girl learns a lot about Scottish people

I don't know how I missed this, living my whole life in New England, but the Scottish Highland Games Festival takes place every year in Lincoln, NH. With the backdrop of the White Mountains changing color in late September, brawny men spend an entire weekend wearing kilts and hurling heavy things. Sold!

I'm a bit of a morning person, so I got to the festival ridiculously early. Like, if you knew how early, you would probably never want to take a trip with me anywhere. When it comes to adventure, I'm motivated. Mopping and work? Not so much. Anyway, the trip was educational, and I felt I came away with a much better understanding of the Scottish people. Allow me to share some lessons I learned.

Lesson #1: Scots are not morning people
I'm shy when I'm in unfamiliar territory, so it takes a lot for me to smile and engage willingly. So when I said hi to an older, kilted gentleman who was standing next to me, frowning at me, I expected some sort of acknowledgment. This did not happen. He turned away. He didn't walk away, he simply pivoted. Unfortunately, this happened a few more times with various kilted people, so I take it to be a race thing. No kilt, no service.

Lesson #2: Scots cannot predict weather
It was FREEZING when I arrived. I wore a few layers, but everyone was talking about how warm it would become. The woman who sold me a ticket said, "You'll be sweating by 10 a.m.!" She was wrong. Very wrong. I was very decidedly NOT sweating by 10 a.m. I am a cold weather person and I was shivering by early afternoon.

Lesson #3: Scots only eat foods that are white or brown
Being so cold, I figured I would eat lunch a bit early to warm up a little--even if just to hold something warm. There was not a color to be had at any food vendor tents. And while I was grateful for the definitions, I am too old to say "Rumble-de-thumps" in all seriousness. After I mumbled that order, the guy yelled, "Order a'thumps!" to the people in the back. Now I know. And yes, I had a sad, Dickensian lunch of mashed potato. But it did warm my hands up for a while.

Lesson #4: Some Scots are a wee bit pervy
All I'm saying is that there was plenty of room on the hillside, but this guy kept get closer. I kept inching away. It got a little weird, but I was too cold to care about life, so after a while I just sat still and let my rage keep me warm.
This guy in no way respected my righteous American/New England need to
maintain a large amount of personal space at all times. I may
have been cold, but there was no need to cuddle.

Lesson #5: Scots appreciate a good hernia
I did not take the time to research how Scots invented their "games," but I assume there was a lot of alcohol, chest thumping, and dares. All they do is throw stuff. The only difference is the shape of said thrown object.

And the men throwing things were massive. They don't look so big from the hillside, but trust me, they're impressively large.

Unfortunately, there was no good angle for picture taking,
so the pics kind of look crappy.

Which is probably fine because no one looks good throwing heavy things.

One guy was an ex-NFL dude. I think it was this guy.

This guy is from Cape Breton.

And he did a good job of throwing something heavy.

This guy is from Iceland. I think he cut down a tree, carved out a viking ship,
and paddled here before throwing heavy things.

Lesson #6: The caber toss is where it's at
First of all, let's just get to the answer to the question all the ladies are asking...
Lots of Lycra going on under those kilts.
And now I felt a wee bit pervy for taking this picture.

"Come here, lad, and get your first hernia!"

No lie--the guy not wearing a kilt is probably about  6'6". They were all wonderfully huge.

Lots of thoughtful people set up their chairs with the best views and
then stayed in the lodge to stay warm the WHOLE day. Thanks, thoughtful people.

These guys essentially pick up a 16' tree (that act in itself looks very painful)
and then walk, sometimes run, and try to flip it.

It was the big event of the day, but not many cabers flipped completely over.

Lesson #7: Scots take the family name thing seriously
The roll call of the clans was a highlight. Lots of people, dressed in their family tartans, take to the field behind a symphony of bagpipes and drums. They face each other in two rows. A Scottish dude calls the clan names one by one. The clan comes forward and shouts what seems to be a war cry or family creed. Then they jump back into line. I couldn't hear exact wording from where I was, but it was amusing and the families were clearly proud and having fun.

Sometimes it was just one old bastard coming forward and shouting. Still pretty cool.

This clan was forgotten in the roll call. This oversight was quickly fixed.
Don't fuck with the MacAnyones.

Not gonna lie--I wanted to be a Scotswoman after watching that man and his son.

Lesson #8: The kilt thing works for me
In the depths of winter last year, I binge watched Monarch of the Glen. I nested on my couch with crafts and was lulled by the accent and scenery. Scenery of Scotland, of course, but also of knees and plaids and oversized rollneck sweaters. (What can I say? That was a thing in the '90s and I still think it's hot.) I suppose this particular lesson has little to do with Scots and more to do with me. Carry on, Scotsmen! Keep those knees where I can see them.

Go ahead, ladies. Tell me you wouldn't hit that. Hell, even the po po were representing.

In all, this was a nice way to usher in autumn, and I would totally do it again. I just may toss an apple into my bag next year, you know, to round out the brown and white food.

I totally agree, kid. It's exhausting to watch those guys throw stuff.

My 53rd cup of tea to stay warm. They say this is the
coldest it's ever been. I hope it's a hell of a lot warmer next year. be continued