A long-winded bore's secret message from Scotland | Latte Guy | Oct. 8
October 8, 2010 · 10:36 AM
There’s nothing more boring than finding yourself at a dinner party or on an airplane seated next to some long-winded bore who has just returned from a vacation to a foreign country and who assumes that there is nothing on earth that you’d rather be doing than having him or her recount for you, in excruciating detail, everything he or she saw and did on their trip, often in the precise order in which he or she saw it and did it.
To make it worse, it’s usually accompanied by frequent reminders about just how more exciting and vivid the event would have been if you had actually been lucky enough to have been there yourself rather than having to hear about it from your lucky storyteller.
In fact, just this past week my friends Clif, Rick, Michael, Paul and I were talking about the crushing boredom of other people’s travel stories as we stood in the dappled sunshine and gentle breezes along the sandy beaches and rocky outcroppings of the scenic coast of the Firth of Forth, waiting outside the starter’s booth on the first tee of the North Berwick Golf Course in East Lothian, Scotland.
As we prepared to begin play on the first of many rounds of golf in Scotland, we made a solemn vow that none of us, no matter who asked us or why, would mention the spectacular scenery of any of the traditional links courses we played during the week we were in Scotland, not even those historic courses that have been in continuous play since the 1500s.
Later in the week, on the train to Edinburgh, we recognized that it would be difficult not to respond to the innocent inquiries from friends, family and colleagues about our trip. But in the interest of solidarity we pledged not to mention to anyone how lush and beautiful the Scottish countryside is, or how friendly the Scottish people are, or how reasonably priced the beer is in local pubs.
We agreed not to tell anyone that we visited the oldest pub in Edinburgh (The White Stag, open since 1516), and swore a blood oath never to tell a soul that we actually ate and enjoyed both black pudding and haggis (with neeps and tatties, of course).
Another thing we agreed to keep to ourselves was our afternoon tour of the Glenlivet Distillery in the Scottish Highlands, as well as the long morning we spent at the Whiskey Experience in Edinburgh.
Likewise, the five of us agreed to seal our lips with respect to the fact that we climbed part of the way up Scotland’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis, wearing dress shoes and Harris Tweed sport coats.
We all shook hands on our vow of silence, a handshake that, as I recall, occurred either in the center of the ancient and magnificent Giles Cathedral, or else in the dank stone dungeon of Edinburgh Castle, right around the corner from the Scottish War Museum, just past the room where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to a son who would grow up to be King Edward II, and across the small plaza from the room that houses the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny, a 400-pound stone on which all Scottish kings have kneeled to be crowned since the fifth century.
Nope, you won’t hear those kinds of boring travel stories from any of us. And you certainly won’t hear about the remarkable 60-foot putt Paul sank for birdie on the fifth hole of the back nine of North Berwick. Not a word. Ever.
I don’t know what women talk about when they are traveling with other women. I suspect that they talk about the long and rich history of the places they are visiting, the natural beauty of the areas they are seeing, the local fashions, customs and cultural activities, and perhaps the bargains in local goods to be had by the crafty shopper.
I know what men talk about in such circumstances: Sports, whether having the fish and chips for lunch in Deacon Brown’s Pub in Edinburgh was a better overall decision than having the steak and kidney pie for dinner at Blackfiars Tavern. And whether it makes more sense to approach the seventh hole at the Gullane Old Course with a three wood or a five iron.
Don’t ask me how I know this; I can’t talk about it.
Tom Tyner is an attorney for the Trust for Public Land. He is author of “Skeletons From Our Closet,” a collection of writings on the island’s latte scene.