On the road to self-discovery, one typically encounters any number of liquor-filled potholes. On the road to Winter Springs — an elbow-to-ass circumnavigation of tollbooths and their quantified self-doubt — I've only managed to sustain a hangover, if not a slight buzz. It's Saturday morning, after all, which isn't typically my beat. From the vantage point of begrudging self-assignment, I can't help but think that if I closed an eye, there wouldn't have to be a road at all; just some upside-down bushes and a permanent resting place.
"When Will I Be Famous?," by toothy British late-'80s also-rans Bros, is blaring from my car stereo. And the answer, quite obviously, is never.
Which begs the question: Was I ever? Or more specifically, was anybody on the "wishful thinking" branches of my genealogical tree? Apparently my great-great-great-great-great-step-uncles were the Wright brothers, but there are no skyward aspirations actually coursing through the bitter insides of my veins, so that doesn't count. What would be a nice second prize, though, is a fancy plaid-skirt pattern assigned to my Scottish roots. A girl can always use a sociologically important skirt.
For that reason, and maybe a few less honorable others, I am here at the 29th Annual Central Florida Scottish Highland Games, stumbling through what can best be described as an identity midway, bouncing from booth to booth with the words "I want my mommy! Have you seen my mommy?" falling from my Munch mouth.
So I call her.
"Hey Mom, what clan are we in?"
"Excuse me?" She is not amused.
"Oh. I mean, your family's Scottish, right?"
Turns out that I'm descended from the Fergusons, which means I'm totally related to the Weekly's music editor, although I must say I'd rather be of the McNichols. I'm sooo Kristy, little darling. The best that I can make out from the ominous maps and charts floating around in varying degrees of lamination is that "my people" are descended from a tiny blip, a sort of scrotum hair if you will, hanging from the bottom of Scotland. And yes, we have a skirt: a blue-and-green one about as impressive as an attic-bound tablecloth or a Scotch tape dispenser. None of this tells me anything about myself, but for many among the slow-shifting thoroughfare, it's something of a religion. A religion where men wear skirts and never, ever utter the words "white" and "supremacist." I swear.
But while there are your assorted Ren-fair sword collectors and exaggerated bellies of both distension and distinction present, the large crowd is mostly just middle-of-the-road white people with middle-class strolling tendencies. And there's an ample supply of both booze and food, which means I'm only half-empty. I'm not officially having a bad time.
There's a woman here peddling travel to Iceland, which I am told is not Scotland, and having just taken a miniscule bite of my friend Taylor's historical/ethnocentric delicacy, I'm ready to go all Braveheart on her ass.
"Um," Taylor chews in my direction. "You might want to wipe the meatpie off your face before you go throwing attitude."
So I do, blurrily considering the punny significance of his snip for maybe a few minutes too long. Meatpie in my face! Geddit?
Anyway, over in the games field, burly men are throwing bulky things to the general amusement and blank faces of the pale majority. Somebody says something about a codpiece controversy and I'm momentarily (again) swept away in a fit of airhead alliteration. Snapping back, I try to focus on just what is going on in front of me. There's the cute one with the pimple on his neck, the other cute one with the fat fingers and a slew of not-cute ones challenging the cuts of their kilts. And possibly doing yardwork.
"What's with the rake?" I ask the air.
"It's a pitchfork," friend-of-friend Mike explains, before leading into a detailed dissertation on hay bales in sheath tosses, and just what cabers were initially thrown for.
"To build bridges to get across moats," he speaks a tunnel through my ears.
Eventually, the history lesson settles down into something a little more familiar; namely, the hot guy in the green shirt standing 72 meatpies and two sheath tosses away. We settle into the standard routine of gathered gay men in pseudo-pretend ogle mode, and I momentarily know exactly who I am. Hi, Mom.
But then something happens. My friend Roy, also in attendance, actually talks to the guy in the green shirt as if he might be a guy in a green shirt with whom he is familiar.
"Yeah, he was a Sig Ep in Tallahassee," Roy explains to me later, panhellenic credentials intact.
Which makes him exactly the Sig Ep that I stalked in my junior year, trying to rub legs with him in world religions class before following him home to his frat house 20 paces and half a meatpie back. Oh. My. God.
This is my lineage. I have a history.[email protected]