Sunday, May 14, 2006

what's up yer kilt?

Something about Scotland makes me want to dance. And I’m not even that good of a dancer. But it must be the Scotsman in me, the Clark in me, that tells me when a wee fiddle and a set a’ pipes fire up, it’s time to take to me heels! I have been dancing a lot these last few days.

I think my first attack of the dancies happened just before we set off on a boat across Lochness. We had just boarded the little ferry and there was some jumpy little Scottish music playing over the P.A.. Suddenly, a little step hit me and I knew it was not only instinctual, but ancestral. It was a little two step with a stomp, combined with a clap. The clapping is down in a criss-cross pattern, like you are violently rolling bread sticks between your palms. There we were, sailing over the inky black peaty depths of Lochness, looking for Nessie herself and dancing like fools to the Scottish jigs.

Evidence exists. Missy has a video of us dancing at Urquhart castle – where there wasn’t even any music playing! There we are on the lawns of the ruins, dancing to the beat of time. Did I live a former life along the banks of Lochness? Is there a Clark somewhere along the line who fished in the banks along Inverness? It seems entirely possible. But I’m still reading my Jack the Ripper book, so everything seems like a mysterious clue to me these days. I’m always sleuthing lately. Cracking the crime.

That night, at the Hootenanny Pub in Inverness, the music simply overcame us and we took to the floor en American masse. There we were, 18 Yanks on the dance floor, bouncing to the bagpipes in a particular frenzy. No partnering or waltzing, just jumping and jigging and yelling ‘Hoy!’ to the beat. I’m not sure what the locals thought. The band was especially pleased, that’s for sure. By the end of the night, the whole joint was jumpin’ and the whole crown was in on it. A finer, more Scottish rendition of ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ you have never heard, nor likely never will. Never, in the history of Scotland, have a group of non-drunks ever danced like that. I’m willing to put money on it.

I’m in Edinburgh now. It’s just as cold and dank, but more mysterious and my dancing craze has somewhat abated. But we did go on the Haunted Edinburgh underground tour last night, and I did get in trouble by the tour guide when she turned off her flashlight to show us how dark it was in the catacombs of the city. I’m not kidding about this. When the lights went out Mark Pugh lightly touched my head like a ghost (which I expected) and some random Scottish guy tickled my ribs (which I did not.) I giggled like a school girl. The tour guide shone her flashlight right at me and basically told me to shut up or I could leave. The students loved the fact that their instructor was the one causing the ruckus during the tour.

This morning we went to a parade for the Edinburgh Hearts, the local soccer team who won some kind of victory so important and so momentous that people felt like they needed to shout about it outside our window until about 4 in the morning last night. The parade was just like an American parade, but no cheesy floats or cloggers. Essentially, it was a tour bus with the soccer team atop it, winding down Edinburgh's cobbled streets while throngs of people with pints of beer chanted, sang, and hoisted their children on their solders to see true National Heroes. As for us, we were unable to stay together as a group as the wave of citizens swept us out onto the streets, and pulled us along for nearly a mile. We learned the chants and played along. For a few minutes I felt like a true Scot, and it made me want to dance!