Burns Night 2018

In the first of what I hope will be many posts of the speech I will have for our annual Burns Night events. I have only found two so far but here’s the oldest I’ve got.

Friends, we gather here for the second or third year in a row – since there’s scotch I cannot keep track, nor do I have interest in doing so – and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your company.

To say that the year was but a blur would be completely false as there have been more than a few moments that have seemed to drag on with the agony of a bad sunburn.

Yet, the moments of our company together are all too brief and to that I must recognize the joy of our camaraderie contributing to these all-too-quickly passing moments.

In our past gatherings to celebrate our dear bard Rabbie, I’ve regaled you with some hopelessly convoluted and nearly unintelligible Scottish brogue in my own witless and feeble attempts to entertain. Thankfully good scotch was in company to soothe the ear and numb the mind enough to make it tolerable.

To our ever-evolving traditions I offer tonight’s addition. The “Burns Night Toast to the Lassies”.

To explain, this is a patently offensive assortment of words by which even the mildly sensitive feminist would take great umbrage from.

In my own creation I will endeavor not to sleep alone tonight, much less sleep forever at the hands of a member of the fair sex who I might offend to the point of homicide. I hope to offer some humor, gentle ribbing, and perhaps even one or more fair points, which brings me to the second act of this perilous play.

Denise has taken the baton for you dear ladies to provide the reply to the Toast to the Lassies, so gentlemen I hope you will gird yourselves now in expectation of some rough waters on the way back to this shore which we must again occupy together as men and women.

With that, let me begin this cruise with the beginning of the toast.

[clear throat]

Lassies and Laddies, I offer a toast to the lassies we have assembled here tonight.

Tonight, I speak of love between two consenting adults. Be they whatever gender they find agreeable to consider themselves, or by way of no gender at all. Yet there is an historical relationship between men and women that of course fills centuries of books that we can draw upon for your consideration this evening.

There are a few of the polyamorists here among us tonight and while our mixed gender couplings might be more numerous than our monogamist friends, we still share many of the same boons and banes.

One being the state of the hinged seat upon the toilet. Oh, what disharmony we have endured from this simple contrivance. It may exist in one of three states, and changing it with no more effort than that of placing a plate in a cupboard, yet the laddies are put upon in great measure to leave it in a state by which the lassies might use it without such effort.

In these days, and I might say days that count a good few decades, that we laddies have adjusted our chivalrous nature of opening doors and throwing capes over puddles to assuage the modern competent woman’s strength in making entry into buildings and dexterity by sidestepping some small pool of water, yet the mystery of the toilet seat continues to escape us.

Now, lest you think I am making a molehill into a mountain, I offer that we don’t mind these idiosyncrasies and perturbances because of the love we have for these lassies.

Burns knew of our capacities to endure this.  He knew that men, for all our faults would ever be in thrall to women:

To see her is to love her,
and love but her forever,
for nature made her what she is,
and never made another.

The great Robert Burns’ relationship with women is a confusing one.  Despite being incredibly promiscuous it was not purely a physical pleasure.  Burns appears to genuinely have adored women.  In his work he mentions, by name, many women, and his declarations of love are still some of the most famous ever written in English,

O, my luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June.
O, my luve’s like the melodie,
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I,
And I will luve thee still, my Dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till ALL the seas gang dry!

Now that’s a long time. This guy was in it for the long haul, as I say we are too. (whispered; gents, this is where you say here, here)

Very good!

Despite this all, we are sometimes left to guess at the meaning of what our fair lassie partners mean with the words they use.

For example, Laddies, no doubt you’re all only too familiar with the fickleness of a woman at dinnertime.  How often have you heard the regular words from a woman at dinner: “Oh no, it’s ok.  I’m full.  You make yourself something but nothing for me”, only to have half of your food pillaged the minute it’s cooked anyway!

And then there’s “the look.” Every man here knows what I mean – but just imagine the one that was waiting for Tam O’Shanter (from the poem by the same name) on that fateful night. Here’s our hero on his way home – admittedly stopping off at the pub first, as you do – and while he’s being chased over hill and dale by a bunch of deranged witches and the Devil himself, what’s his Missus up to? Kate’s just sitting there “Gathering her brows like gathering storm, Nursing her wrath, to keep it warm.” You can almost see that foot tapping, can’t you? I mean, it’s not as if Tam got a bit too merry and watched a new episode of Game of Thrones without her is it?

Now that, I am reliably informed by my own dear ladies, apparently IS a sin – and had Sweet Kate been a better shot with that frying pan, quite possibly a mortal one to poor old Tam!

That said, we laddies would be mad without the lassies and while we might have our frustrations with each other, the bard might say these grievances are the price to pay for love.

In Ae Fond Kiss, he said:

Had we never loved sae kindly
Had we never loved sae blindly
Never met  – or never parted –
We had ne’er be broken hearted

So, he was romantic and loving and not afraid to say so.  Perhaps he has a lesson for some of us men…

It is to you dear lassies I raise my drink, for the love you give us poor sots that our lives be enriched by your company and charms.


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