I am descended from royalty
A couple of weekends ago, Ken and I went to a local Highland Games. I love the Highland Games for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the music. I can never understand when people object to bagpipe music and cover their ears, or make jokes about the sound of cows dying, because to me the sound of the pipes and drums is thrilling. The best part is the band competition, where you can hear them approaching, and then they walk onto the field in formation, stop, circle up and play their hearts out. If you look around at the crowd, you can see that almost everyone watching is subtly moving one of their feet up and down to the rhythm. Because it’s Scottish, so no one’s getting all excited and doing the pogo, or breaking out into spontaneous flings (mostly because it’s the middle of the day and the drinking hasn’t started yet). Nope, just the understated foot tap, but we all know that means the soul is awake.
This year, they also had a sheep herding competition which was kind of interesting. The trainer had different border collies for the demonstration, and the one thing they had in common was that they only cared about the sheep. I’ve never seen dogs so focused—it was like if instead of sheep, I was holding a hamburger, and Titus was watching me eat it. That’s how intense these dogs were, but without all the requisite drooling.
Of course, if you’ve ever been to a Highland Games, you’ll know there’s also the heavy events, where men, and women now too, do things like toss giant poles into the air, or see who can throw a massive stone the furthest, because that’s what Scottish people used to do back in the old days:
Scottish Man 1: Och aye! I need to build ma hoose, but I dinnae know how tae get this log from here to there!
Scottish Man 2: Dinnae be daft. Just toss it.
Scottish Man 1: Och! Good idea, Jimmy! How will I nail the logs together?!
Scottish Man 2: Just throw the hammer after them!
So apparently, all the Highland Games heavy events are based on Scottish construction techniques.
There was also Highland Dancing, which I longed to do as a small child. Once, when I was about 5, my mother, in a misguided attempt to save my soul, sent me to Sunday School at the local church. It was in the basement, and literally this is my only memory of the entire event: I told the Sunday School teacher that I knew how to do highland dancing, and she asked me to show everyone. Of course, I had absolutely no f*cking idea how to do it, but I’d just been to a local highland games and had watched the dance competition. Back when I was five, I wasn’t quite so introverted as I am now, so I stood up, walked to the middle of the circle of kids, and flailed my arms around, kicked my feet randomly, then bowed. Because that’s how I used to roll. All the other kids clapped, but the Sunday School teacher looked confused:
Sunday School Teacher: You don’t really know how to highland dance, do you?
Sunday School Teacher: But that wasn’t really highland dancing, was it?
Me: Yes it was.
Sunday School Teacher: Did you take lessons?
Me: No. I learned it myself.
Sunday School Teacher: Sigh. Jesus hates liars.
Me: Who’s Jesus?
OK, I made up that last part, but it was really what we were both thinking—her, that this five-year-old was full of sh*t and would be punished in the afterlife for being a crappy highland dancer, and me, why the hell was I sitting in a basement with a lady who doubted my dancing prowess?
Anyway, back to this weekend. As the band competitions were nearing a close, the sky was looking ominous and thunderstorms were in the forecast, so I said to Ken, “Let’s take a look at the vendors before it starts to rain.” There were a lot of booths, with pottery, and baked goods, and so on, but then I saw a sign that said, “Have you ever dreamed of owning land in Scotland?” and I was like, “We’re going to that booth, Ken!” The booth was mostly clothing, and I kept looking for a real estate agent, until finally I just asked the guy who was running it, “Where do I buy the land?” So he showed me these packages where you can buy so many square feet of Scottish property, and then he said the BEST THING OF ALL: “If you buy this land, you can become a lord or lady of Scotland.” I thought I was going to die from happiness, and I bought the 10 square feet package which would entitle me to legally change my name on all my banking information and credit cards to “Lady mydangblog”. But then I thought to myself, “Who might get a bigger kick out of this than me?” and also, “Who’s more legitimately Scottish than me?” and I immediately thought of my Dad, who was actually born in Scotland and who just had a milestone birthday. Also, if I made my dad a Scottish lord, it would totally beat out my brother, who travels a lot and once, for Christmas, gave my parents plane tickets to Hawaii with his points, while I was like “Here’s a gift card to The Keg.”
So I registered the land ownership to my dad, then I called my brother to tell him:
Me: I just bought Dad land in Scotland and now he gets to call himself a Lord.
J: That’s awesome. And the best part is that I get to inherit it.
Me: No. The rules of primogeniture have changed so that women can inherit. I’m the oldest, so it goes to me.
J: We’ll see. I have to look up the legal precedents…
(Later, when I told my dad about this, he said, “I can’t believe you guys. I’m not even dead and you’re already arguing about my estate.”)
I really wanted it to be a surprise, but the company had to have his email address. Mom and Dad were coming over for dinner that afternoon, and when he walked in, I said, “Greetings, my lord!” and he said, “What’s going on? I just got some spam email calling me Lord D__ and inviting me to tour my new property in Scotland!”
When I explained it to him, he was pretty chuffed, but he said, “What could I possibly do with 10 square feet? That’s just a little over 3 by 3.” So I thought about it, and here are some suggestions:
1) Pitch a tall, narrow tent and sleep sitting up in a camp chair.
2) Yoga. You can do the Lotus, the Hero pose, and the Half Lord of the Fishes Pose. Also, the Standing Up Straight pose, and the Curled Up in a Tight Foetal Position pose.
4) Picnic for One. Or two, if you hug each other while you eat.
5) Narrowly Focused Highland Dancing. I’m an expert, so I can show you how.
When I told T about it, he was intrigued, and the next thing you know, he bought himself his OWN 10 square feet of land in Scotland. So now, I’m surrounded by royalty. Luckily, we’re going to Scotland in a little over two weeks, and the company will give us the GPS coordinates for T’s land so that we can visit it. And huddle tightly together while we survey all that is his.
Saturday: I am distracted
Yesterday, we were downstairs getting ready to go out, when T said, “Hey, do you hear that? It sounds like something is scratching inside the wall in the back room.” So I listened, and sure enough, there was some kind of creature making a lot of noise, like it was trying to escape. But it wasn’t coming from inside the wall—it was coming from inside an old chimney that has an access door into the top cupboard of a wall unit that Ken built. So we did what any normal person would do—we called Ken/Dad. Which is to say that Ken was taking a shower, so we both ran towards the bathroom, simultaneously yelling, “Ken!” and “Dad!” Ken came out of the shower, and tied a towel around his waist, then went to the back room to look.
“Okay,” he said. “I’m going to have to open the cupboard door.” I immediately ran outside and locked myself behind the gate leading into the vegetable garden, and T hid behind the door to the backyard, where we taunted each other:
Me: Once that thing gets loose, it’s going to eat your feet off.
T: No—it will eat your face off.
Me: No—it’ll hit the floor and go straight for your feet.
T: Haha—that’s what you think—it’ll go straight for the exit and fly at your face!
Ken (opening the door): I can’t see anything—the chimney is full of bird skeletons.
Me: Someone wake me up from this hellish nightmare.
A couple of years ago, Ken had wrapped chicken wire around the top of the chimney to stop creatures from getting in, but apparently the wire had fallen down, and now it was a graveyard. The only thing he could do was pull all the dead stuff out and put it in a bag, and hope that whatever was still alive in there would be able to finally make its way into the cupboard. Which meant that for the rest of the day, we had to keep the door to the back room shut, because I was terrified that some manic squirrel would push its way out and kill us in our sleep. As of this morning, there’s still no sign of anything and I’m super-distracted. The only person who was happy about the whole situation was Ken:
Ken: Hey, check this out!
Me: Why are you digging through all that dead sh*t?!
Ken: There are some awesome skulls in here! I can use them for a photography project.
Me: Are they maggoty? Stop digging in the bag—you’re kicking up dead animal dust and I don’t want it to get in my wine!
Ken: Ooh—this one is really nice. So clean! Oh look—a perfectly formed leg…
Me: I need more wine.