Life Before Chronic Pain
This weekend we made our very first trip to Edinburgh. My mind was full of castles, cute shops, good food…all the things a tourist such as myself could possibly want. Well it didn’t quite work out that way as these silly Americans accidentally spent most of the day walking the wrong side of town! We were on the new end and couldn’t seem to find our way to old town and the Royal mile. Little did we know, but really should have realized, that it was on the other side of that really big hill that we didn’t want to climb. Of course, right? However, on the side of town we were on there were shops of the modern variety and we wandered about ohhing and ahhing, until we foolishly thought it was safe to wander into a store of Italian leather “just to look.”
There is a definite trend over here that is the logical equivalent of the total lack of logic in the states. You lost? Well, you see the Italian leather store was manned by (drum roll please) Italians! Italian restaurants have the Italians; kilts makers are Scottish, Indian food, prepared by Indians! Makes sense, however, back in the states you have the Chinese making you donuts, a black man fixing the Chinese food, a Mexican in McDonalds, and the Indian arming Clancy’s ice cream parlour. I’m not even going to start on those donuts slash Chinese food places, I really don’t want to know. Somehow sweat and sour pork flavored donuts just doesn’t appeal.
Anyhow, we wandered into the Italian run, Italian leather shop and Shawn barely looks at a jacket and *poof* a snazzily dressed Italian was holding the same style jacket in Shawn’s size out for him to try. Shawn hesitated, but the guy coerced him into it saying “we don’t charge for try ons” as he pulled a full-length mirror (conveniently wheeled) over. Well, five or six jackets and three different styles later, Shawn was in love. He smiled at his reflection, puffed up his chest, sucked in the stomach and even checked the butt. Then he looked to the Italian and myself for the appropriate amount of approval. I must admit, it looked damn good.
The Italian was pleased with himself and was all ready to wrap it up and take our credit card, especially the credit card part. Shawn took it off and handed it back to him with an obvious pout “we’re just looking.” Actually we don’t have any money, but “just looking” is a good euphemism. The guy was horrified! From that point he used every sales tactic in the book. First commenting on how good it looked to the point where I was wondering about his sexual preference. When that proved ineffective, he moved to telling us what a great product it was and that we would never find it again. Still no luck, finally, left with no other option, he started reducing the price. This was actually a tactic that damn near worked, that jacket went from 375 to 250 to 195 and finally to 150! Amazingly enough we didn’t walk out of there with the jacket…just barely! But it was an excellent lesson in bartering! I think I’ll go back when I do have money and act poor again!
We eventually did venture over that hill, but not until the sun was headed down. Up and over the hill and low and behold—The Royal Mile! Damn! Most of it was closed, but we spotted a coffee shop and Shawn needed his fix so we headed for it. Upon leaving the shop we noticed that a lonely shop across the street was actually open, so in we went. It was a kilt shop and they have the funniest thing here, you know how kids clothes are sold more according to their age than their size, well they have these baby kilts that are sized for up to three years! I pulled one out and was showing it to Shawn when the owner called from the back “Won’t fit him, ma’am. Would have to sew six of them end to end.” That was an interesting opening to what was about to turn into a very entertaining conversation. He pulled us over to the real kilts, which he also had second hands. Shawn was naturally drawn to the absolute ugliest thing in the whole shop. It was this bright orange with puke green running through it and much to my dismay it was in his size. He tried it on and the two of them tried real hard to convince me that it was nice…they were wholly unsuccessful.
Just so you know what I’m facing, this guy, to me, looked like some kind of cross between Santa Claus in the face with the friendly smile and eyes and a hyperactive Regis on that Millionaire game. He kept popping off with random Scottish/American trivia spoken at warp speeds, but he never once asked if that was our final answer. He did ask if I was Scottish when I told him yes, he asked for my last name and the answer of Spinola seemed to baffle him. I explained that my mother’s maiden name was Duncan. So, as the Scots seem rather prone to do, he tossed out that confusing piece of information and referred to me as Miss Duncan for the rest of the night.
He was highly amusing, we only got one of his many questions right: “Who was the greatest thing to happen to California that was Scottish born?” Do you know? Shawn did, John Muir. He also asked for the eight Scottish presidents of the US, I could come up with Grant and Buchanan, do you know the rest? What American Car Company is owned by a Scot? Buick. Glasgow University started William and Mary University in the states. And many many more things I can’t remember. He had two other tirades, the first was McDonalds, he said he was scared of the place because Mc meant son of and you had to go in and order McNuggets. You really don’t want to eat “the son of a nugget,” do you? Sounds more like an insult than a meal, say it out loud, it does! The next tirade was naturally politics, surprisingly enough while being adamant he wasn’t unpleasantt. Like all Scots he wanted separation from England, but he kept referring to the people in government that were voting it down as “Dumbos.” Now you have to picture it to know what I’m talking about, this Santa Claus looking guy, in plaid pants and red suspenders, rocking back and forth heel to toe, doing that thumb thing with the suspenders calling people dumbos right and left. He was great fun! Finally after picking on his government for a good twenty minutes or so he turned to us with this glint in his eye and said, “Well, at least we’re not the worst off. That dumbo Clinton, doesn’t even know what sex is. How do you expect him to run the country?” Enough said.
Soon after another man and woman wondered in and they were even more entertaining. The man from what we could see was either crazy or a bit into his cups. I was headed for both, as he was pretty coherent for intoxicated and very chatty. He wandered right in and decided he wanted a kilt. Then he spent the time while “Santa” was trying to find the right tartan and the right size talking to us about what a Scotsman wears under his kilt. Finally the kilt was found and he went and changed. He returned, thrust his hips forward, raised one eyebrow in a sly way and asked in that Scottish accent “Do I look sexy?” The girl who was with him blushed and voicedly disowned him, saying they were not together he was a friend of her father’s, they never saw each other and anything else she could come up with to make herself less associated. He was, however, wholly undeterred by her disclaimer and started asking for the entire kit, he always wanted one and tonight was the night. After many more antics between getting him appropriately into the kit (it was smarter than him) him scooting around the shop asking about the sexy factor and the argument that ensued between him and the girl about garters. He wanted them to be red, but she argued that the kilt was green. He had been off and on talking to Shawn and I and kept telling Shawn how good he would look in a kilt and then was so impressed with the size of his arms he asked if he could feel. What a friendly country. Anyway, his credit card a lot lighter and dressed in the entire kit he asked us to have a drink with him next door. “Say yes, because you can’t say no.” he told us and interestingly enough we couldn’t really argue with the logic.
The pub next door was really comfy, not too dark, not too light, music was just the right volume, enough people to feel like the place was alive but not so many as to be crowded. We were able to snag a table and eventually figured out that the spaz of a Scot that we were having drinks with was named David. Now after sitting with him for a couple hours I was very much starting to believe that it was just him, not the drink that made him crazy. In over three hours he had a pint and a half, wearing his brand new kit, the kilt pleats still sewn and the tags still on. David was dark haired, relatively thin, with a distinctly European nose, but that wasn’t his most errr, prominent feature. He had very large ears that flapped when he spoke and especially when he smiled. He was also a very animated man who talked a lot and quickly making his ears equally active. Thus, our highly entertaining introduction into the mind of a Scot began.
He was fount of useless yet interesting information. He told us the do’s and don’ts of PDA in Scotland. It seems that we could kiss, neck, hug, and cuddle, but the big don’t was for him to have his hand on my thigh. It would mean I was a loose woman. We found out that Shawn was not very likely to have a fight picked with him because he was with his “wife”. We told him we weren’t married, but that Scot habit kicked in, he tossed out the confusing bit of information and remained with married terminology. Then we moved from Scots to Americans, who by far seemed the stranger of the two when he started talking about them. “I don’t get you Americans,” he said, “you come all the way over here and you look at piles of rocks. You been to stone henge? Well don’t, it’s just a pile of rocks!” Okay, so looking at it from that point of view I guess we are a little odd. Then he went into the times he has been to the States. Turns out we had met the manager of the international network for G.E. He’s travelled. A lot. And he was a serious spaz, so I can see why New York didn’t take too kindly to him and neither did SF. “Americans and their guns, every American has a gun.” He said. Then told us of the many times he had gotten into a fight in America and the American brought a friend…in the form of a firearm.. Miraculously he survived every American encounter and lived to tell about it. After several hours and we had all exchanged information. He invited us to Kent to stay with him and his family for a week! He was positive that his wife would love us. Then we were told, for the first time in our lives, in a truly affectionate manner to “fuck off and enjoy and the night.” What he didn’t seem to realize was that we already had.