Friday, September 28, 2007

Gaelic Dreams: A Reprint

Today's post--a solo "In the BIN"--is brought to you by a friend of mine who blogs in the Mountain West. She prefers to remain anonymous, so I won't link her from here, but she was gracious enough to let me feature her writing on my blog. She recently returned from a vacation in Nova Scotia and has been sharing lovely stories with us. I love writing that is evocative and this piece is certainly all that and more. Thank you, friend, for letting me pass this along.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Oh, Peggy Gordon, you are my darlin’
Come sit ye down upon my knee
And tell to me the very reason
Why I am slighted so by thee.

Cyril McPhee’s voice lilted across the tourist- filled lounge of the Keltic Lodge in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia the night I was there. His Scottish accent was entrancing, and I couldn’t help jiggle a foot in time with his strumming on the guitar. One of his feet kept the rhythm with a quick bounce and a kick as if he were pedaling an invisible tricycle. Most endearing of all is when he lifted his head up to scan the audience and let his gaze rest on me, his eyebrows in that happy, comical arch over his sparkling eyes. I smiled back, pretending I was the one he sang to.

I know, I know – musicians flirt with their audience so they can sell more CDs. In fact, I heard him call out to a woman in the audience right before I came into the lounge,

“When your husband falls asleep, give me a call!”

I’m usually a boring realist, but sometimes I allow myself a fantasy or two. If you can’t fall in love with a fantasy, when would you ever fall in love?

I know, I know – I’m already married to a beautiful, funny, responsible man whom I fell in love with 25 years ago. I intend to remain married to him. To be fair, I told my husband I thought Cyril McPhee was the cutest thing this side of the border, bald head and all. That way, my husband would still hold the title of Cutest Thing In the U.S.A. And that way, I could imagine a parallel universe where I live in Cape Breton, am of Scottish ascendance, and am destined to meet up with Cyril McPhee, the famous Nova Scotia folk singer and member of the band, “Brakin’ Tradition.”

A small group of people seated on the couch behind me sang along with some of Cyril’s Celtic songs of fishing and romance, giving themselves away as fellow Cape Bretoners.

“Ah, it’s so good to hear ya,” Cyril said after one song. “Ya know, if someone from Cape Breton likes you, he’ll say, ‘Ya fuggin’ fuggers, I could puck you in the eye!”

I laughed hard, but the couple that my husband and I were traveling with only smiled weakly. Our friends are strictly religious. Their religion testifies that their country is the center of the universe, where the original Garden of Eden was, and where Joseph Smith’s teetotaling followers are building the kingdom of God for everyone else’s benefit. These friends of ours are nice company, but sometimes I don’t want nice. I want laughter, profanity and drinks.

A waitress from the lounge bar stopped by our couch and asked if we wanted anything. “No,” I lied. “Yes,” I thought to myself, “ – a nice Merlot.”

Having gone through the first 45 years of my life without having a glass of wine, I’ve spent the last five years trying to make up ground by getting to know the subtleties between the various red wines. I am no lush; I hardly ever drink. About once every other month I get together with a girlfriend and enjoy intimate conversation, pointless laughter, and a feeling of complete relaxation. One glass of wine makes me hear – really feel – the music. It makes me love the one I’m with. It makes me let go of the anxieties I stubbornly grasp between my cold, nearly dead fingers. A glass a day, news articles claim, keeps the heart attacks away.

One glass of wine makes the room spin for me, however. I elect not to drink it in front of religious people who equate drinking as one of the seven deadly sins.

After Cyril’s performance was over, he began packing up his guitar and speakers. My husband and friends bade good-night and headed for their rooms. I hung behind in hopes I could get a chance at the one publicly accessible computer in the lodge. A whole week off of work made me nervous that I would miss something important that only I could take care of. I figured somebody from the office would point out any catastrophes to me via email.

There was a woman on the computer, and it looked like she was going to be there a long time. I headed for my room, making sure to walk past the hotel lounge one last time. Inside the lounge I saw Cyril McPhee join the group of fellow patriots. One of them held a drink out to Cyril, and he accepted it with a grateful laugh. They all sat down in a comfy couch huddle. Oh, the stories gilded with Scottish accents, and the beer-enhanced laughter that would ensue. Ah, spontaneous kinship. The night was young for them, and for me in my parallel universe.

The night for my friends was at its end. They would spend the next 15 minutes complaining about their lodgings and the dinner we had that night. They will complain about aches and pains. They will say their prayers and thank God that they are the chosen ones. And they will turn the lights out.


Reza said...

Dear Friend,
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Di said...

Bizarre spam from UNLV??

Anyhow. This post is AWESOME. I love the mountain-west blogger, she rules. She is completely amazing, and I love this post.

Thanks for posting it, Tewkes.

Di said...

Actually, it's a real study about bloggers and the blogosphere - interesting sampling approach, but I guess that's okay...

It always sucks for research instruments that get sent to SOCIAL SCIENTISTS...muwahahahahah!!

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Okay, I'm pissed to be getting spam. I think I'm going to have to reinstitute comment moderation as a result. Dammit!

Dear Reza (and anyone else who wants to spam my blog):

I'm not your friend and I don't appreciate your invasive comment. If you want to contact me vis-a-vis my blogging, please go to my profile, dig out my email address and email me. But don't leave this kind of stuff on my blog.


J.M. Tewkesbury
Sociologist of Religion and non-invasive researcher!

Di: Harumph. I guess I'm feeling cranky about unwanted comments.

And, yes, I'm with you: I love the mountain-west blogger, too! I'm glad she let me put this post out there to a few more folks.

Charlotte said...

We just returned from Nova Scotia and experienced an evening much like Mountain Girl's, listening to Cyril McPhee at the Keltic Lodge. Luckily our band of four contained no teetotalers so we enjoyed the local ale while McPhee's lilting voice and dancing foot charmed us (NS wine is forgettable). His Celtic songs were lovely, and when he learned some of us were from San Francisco he even included a terrific rendition of "Dock of the Bay". After his last set he stopped by our couch to thank us for being a good audience (as opposed to the cretins across from who sat with their heads buried in their laptops for the entire performance). A warm and charming man - wish you could have been sitting with us, Mountain Girl.
PS - Interested in finding a good book to read when you're not blogging. Try our blog - (Not you, Reza).

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Charlotte: Thanks for dropping in. It's a good thing I have this blog set up to email me when folks leave comments. If I didn't, I'd have had no clue you read and commented on this entry! I'd completely forgotten about this entry. I'll email my friend, Mountain Girl, and let her know you heard her favorite Celtic singer from Nova Scotia!

As for Cyril and his dulcet tones, I must repent and make a point of checking out his music again. It's been more than a year since this post and I'd completely forgotten about him.