I just found my Moleskine from my last year at St. Andrews. The following entries were made on my last full day in Scotland and on the day I moved home to NYC.
Leaving Scotland For Good
Tesco, St. A: An alcoholic in front of me was buying a pack of 10 cigarettes and a bottle of cheap red wine at 1:30pm. Shaking uncontrollably, he said, “My day is getting better by the minute!” as he stuffed the cheap red wine into his little backpack. Talk about DEPRESSING!!
Edinburgh Airport: A boy who looked perfectly ‘normal,’ save for an eyebrow piercing, sat down and pulled out an actual little crystal ball that he proceeded to stand up and do tricks with like he was a member of the Harlem fucking Globetrotters. He was completely unashamed, even when the crystal ball fell loudly to the ground and when a Scottish man in a kilt said, “that was fucking brilliant, mate, but your flight left ages ago!” and his friend laughed. In between practice sessions, the boy sat down and read from what appeared to be a Penguin Classic.
Lack of Shame in Scotland
There are many kids at St. Andrews who are already peripheral members of society and still decide to break out sticks lit on fire at parties on the beach and twirl them while knee-deep in the North Sea. During these fire-twirling sessions, they wear their breathable cargo pants rolled up so they won’t get wet. My questions: where does one practice that skill? And who looks at someone twirling fire in wide-legged cargo pants and decides that they want to be just like that person? Most importantly, why doesn’t this fire twirling ever go awry? Because THAT would be entertaining: “Help me, mate! Me fockin’ favourite trousers are melted to me fockin’ legs! An’ I rolled ’em up an’ everythin’!”
Generally, I’ve noticed that the Scots are weird about the personas they create for themselves. I think it has to do with the question of how you go about individualizing yourself when you live in a completely homogenous, class-based society. Once you’ve aligned yourself with a group over here, you are not changing your mind about it. And if you went with becoming a “goth,” which means you decided to only wear knee-length pleather coats and listen to mainstream rock music from the late 1980s for the rest of your life, then you’d best have developed a thick skin and a nasty attitude – because, well, look at you, for God’s sake. I remember one time when I was going for a drink with some kids that I did Classics with – I’d had a mishap with self-tanner and had an orange face with color concentrated mostly on my upper lip. I looked like hell – like an Oompa Loompa who was in the middle of hormone replacement therapy. So when I showed up at the bar, I said casually, “Don’t judge me – I made a bad choice!” and then laughed. One of the girls, who happened to be wearing neon green mesh arm-warmers and had a lip ring and filthy hair, said to me, “We’re not judgemental,” as she rolled her beady eyes. That about sums up my experience here.
PS: In airport now- I keep seeing a man everywhere who has slicked-back hair and emotionless reptile eyes. Having a slight stress about the likelihood of this flight turning into something like the movie “Red Eye.”
PPS – Now he is sitting across from me on the plane!!!
Ahhh…those were the days. PSYCH!