Charlie the Scotsman and the Cost of Creative Outbursts

taken from

The other night I was at a table drinking whiskey and chatting loudly over some ’80s rock and roll tunes at the Brooklyn Ale House. Suddenly, a trio of Scottish style musicians marched on in. They were three teenage men with splotchy facial hair, wide frames, large white tee shirts, and kilts. An excited murmur resounded through the bar. Unsolicited live music?! An elegy from the Highlands?! Bring it! This is what living in creative New York is all about! This is why the median rent in Williamsburg is $2900* and we’re happy to pay it, the bar goers seemed to assert. Because on any old day we’ll be eating peanuts and throwing back booze when a trio of wandering minstrels will spontaneously gambol into the room and blast our ears with live music. We pay for the freedom that enables such creative outbursts. (Ever heard of the “Bedford Circus of Fools?” Coverage coming soon.)

And blast our ears the minstrels did. Bagpipes blaired like a dying Loch Ness Monster and the drummer pounded on his snare with a ferocity more suited to the fifty yard line on opening day than a cozy, one room Brooklyn bar. Initially the trio was well received. The bartender lowered the music for them and the crowd fell silent in anticipation. But by their third song, after suffering permanent hearing damage, the bar goers shouted things like “Leave now;” “Spare us;” and “I was happier listening to the Scorpions.” Soon enough the musicians were gone, leaving only the sharp ringing of dyling cilia for us to remember them by. Yet in the middle of their repertoire my friend fondly remembered an actual Scotsman we had met some time back.

“Remember Charlie, that Scottish guy in Australia?”
Charlie had a long red beard, an insatiable thirst for whiskey, a pointed freckled face and a thick chewy accent. Years ago he had moved from Scotland to Nimbin, Australia, but he proudly wore his heritage on his sleeve.
“Of course I do,” I said.

Once over a drink, Charlie grew loud and red in the face and told us this story:

“Not too many of yis know this, but en my country, dooring the olde day battles with the foocking English, the highlenders wore dees hard armor kilts made a woood. A big stiff flap o’er da cock and balls offerin yer most precious parts a layer a protection. Now when you marched along, the kilt would bounce wit ya, each step of the march tappin‘ the little tip of your pecker e’er so gently. One, two, one, two. Now battle with the English wasn’t always something you wanted to march toward, but with dem kilts, each step ya was getting a little surge of pleasure there on the dick. Now that right there, well that’s something to keep ya movinterrd the fight.”

I’ve done a little bit of research and am yet to corroborate Charlie’s hard armored kilts and their perks with any historical source. But I have no reason to lay doubt into Charlie’s story. It brought a smile to my face and made me think about the timeless tenets that drive Western Man. Even if it is fabricated, it’s just another kind of creative outburst we value so deeply, this one in rural hippie Australia instead of pricey hipster Brooklyn. Plus, Charlie’s outburst moved me more than that of the bagpipers, to be sure. Of course, they were the ones who caused us to think of Charlie in the first place, so maybe it is worth it after all.

*firgure taken from the following New York Observer article:


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