Home is Where the Fart is.

Okay. Recovered from the blow with no ill-effects. Feeling good, stuff in order, getting my wireless broadband and phone line hooked up Friday, with only minor heart attacks from my bank and utility services back home. But then again, how *could* they have contacted me to tell me that my account had been frozen due to suspicious transactions from Scotland if I had no freaking phone? Guess I should thank them for being so prudent; should have called ‘em before I even left.

So this entry is dedicated to someone very special. In fact, I have a little story for you now, sure to explain a bit about my strange attraction with this cold, wet place and just

I owe my interest in Scottish history and culture to a couple of my formative years around a single man, and his daughter, who I was dating at the time. I was dating his daughter, not him. 🙂 In fact, she was my first real girlfriend, first real…Everything. They came in a package, and I got the fringe benefits of seeing aspects of their culture through meetings of the Caledonian Club of San Francisco, of which he was the Chairman of the Dart Committee, as well as the main graphic designer for the organization.

Alestair was a Scot from Aberfoyle moved to San Francisco many years ago, and I was fortunate enough to be taken to the Caledonian Club Games & Gatherings a couple years in a row for an inside look at what Scotland holds. Sounds kind of touristy and commercial, yes? But that was during the days. When all the sweaty punters, camera bags strapped tightly to their asses and blue and green visors warping from the Northern California sun went home, the real fun began. All the organizers and presenters were invited to the annual party after hours, inside some sort of convention hall on the fairgrounds. There, the alcohol flowed, the dancing and mingling exploded, and the passion flowered.

I remember a few poignant things. I remember the Scots Guards military band, in full regalia, piping with the US Marines brass section, all in the small convention area. Deafening, beautiful…tear jerking. I was bouncing from person to person, smile to smile, with handshakes and hugs a-plenty. The soldiers were huge and imposing. The civilians weren’t. Everyone was Bigger Than Life, and so friendly, with little pretension but that of the pride in who they were, and what they were drinking at the time. A story came from every person, a joke or a remembrance. It wasn’t, “Hello; excuse me, I’ve got to go mingle.” It was, “Pleased to meet you; come sit down and tell me about yourself.” I heard about Old Things, with a depth and a history and a romance that I wasn’t prepared for.

I guess I was lured in by the modern aspect of these people, the warmth and the love, which brought me to a great appreciation for what came before. Their origins, so to speak. And I was looking for something to do with my life at that time; a direction to go. I’d always liked history, specifically of the military variety, but I didn’t want to overlook the culture, as well. So I planned out my vision. It included a lot of reading, a single undergraduate goal (Berkeley), a single postgraduate goal (Edinburgh), and on to a doctorate and eventual tenure in the study of a very important era of Scottish history. That was over twelve years ago. I was just out of high school.

As soon as I had the idea in my head, things took a change. We came home one afternoon to find poor Alé dead, and things were never the same with us after that. But what I got from him has certainly lived on, and will continue to. He instilled something in me by showing me where he came from, and I always got the feeling that he showed a subtle appreciation for my youthful fascination. His daughter graciously let me have some personal items of his, perhaps sensing that I looked up to him in certain ways; his Doc Marten’s, tartan tie, and a box full of old ephemera from his life, including a Scottish cigar in a small, white tin. I always said that if I made it to Edinburgh, I would smoke it there, in his honor.

Now, I finally got to keep my promise, and it feels like a good piece of my life has come full circle.

Here’s the proof…

I’ve toasted Alé many times since his passing, but the finest was saved for last. Sure, it was an old cigar, but it was worth it. I haven’t forgotten.

And I hope he knows, and his daughter, as well, just how much effect they had on me, in so many ways. I’m doing what I love because of them.


Here’s to you, Roo.

7 Responses to “Home is Where the Fart is.”

  1. inkbot Says:
    September 24th, 2003 at 10:42 am

    wow. what a beautiful post. and promise. and just look at that scottish sky above you!

  2. FunkyPlaid Says:
    September 26th, 2003 at 5:07 pm

    Yeah, pretty sky!
    And I'm not even drunk!

  3. agntprovocateur Says:
    September 24th, 2003 at 1:16 pm

    that story rocked my socks!
    thanks for the reminder….of how a special person can impact one's life so dramatically and why some things are worth the wait.

  4. FunkyPlaid Says:
    September 26th, 2003 at 5:08 pm

    Sock-rockin' beats?

  5. kratkrat Says:
    September 24th, 2003 at 10:09 pm

    I have always felt that the best stories are those that are ultimately uplifting or inspiring, yet have at their core a hint of melancholy.
    Yours was a very good story.

  6. FunkyPlaid Says:
    September 26th, 2003 at 5:09 pm

    It's that dichotomy that builds us up, then tears us down, no?

  7. Anonymous Says:
    September 29th, 2003 at 11:41 pm

    Home is Where the Fart is.
    Wow, that is a beautiful story. If I'd known it a few weeks ago when I was up there singing Gaelic at the Games in Pleasanton, I would have sung you *two* songs. I did do "Mile marbhaisg", BTW, in memory of you and certain other banner-waving yahoos of yore. Which reminds me, speaking of Scottish songs, you mentioned a certain pub (I think it was) — do you know who Lady Nairne was?? 🙂
    Happy singing! (when you aren't fighting),

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