That pure Cane Spirit since 1848.

Monday, October 15, 2007

When you are born here, when you are only seconds old, the midwife asks for a glass of water or something to get the bystanders out the room and while your mother is distracted, perhaps looking at all that funky stuff on the sheets, the midwife takes you aside and performs a secret pagan association on you. She shows you the lid off a shortbread tin and tells you you’re Scotch and forever will be. It’s called imprinting. At this point you start crying.

From then on we are cursed, for all our lives, to be crashing bores about our mystical land of haggis. If you let us, we’ll tell you how we invented the atom bomb and the chandelier, penicillin, the bath plug not forgetting the steamship and the soup spoon. We become as welcome as a Rechabite at a highland wedding. The Greek tragedy is that we know we do it. We just can’t stop.

If you are foreign, you may have experienced us at first hand. Let’s say you are from Milwaukee on vacation driving across the Mojave Desert to the Joshua Tree National Park. You’ve borrowed a forty foot motor home and it is running like silk. It’s a duplex on wheels is what it is. Just the open road and the wife and you’re like teenagers again; you’re both wearing Stetsons for the hell of it. Made love on the roof last night under the stars, it just happened. She really does suit that hat. Up ahead in the distance, through the shimmering light, looks a good place to stop.

“Whatdya say honey? Shall we pull over for the day?”
“You’re the driver Hank.”

You downshift early just to hear the growl of that diesel; it’s like music, makes you feel good, makes you feel like Burt Reynolds in the Bandit films. As you pull in, you can’t stop grinning. This is turning into the best trip ever. There’s a mini mart for stocking up and a gift shop selling souvenirs made out of rattlesnakes. There’s a custom Peterbuilt with polished rims in the parking lot. You must get a picture of that. They’ve got cool shaded bays where you can plug in for the night, and the rest rooms and showers are as clean as an operating theatre. Best of all, there’s a grill restaurant and a flashing neon ‘Budweiser’ because suddenly you are hungry and you’d love a beer right now. Caught up in the moment, you put on your best John Wayne voice.

“I’m gonna have me the biggest steak - smothered in onions!”
“Gotta keep your strength up hon.”
“Care to join me for a beer ma’am?”
“Don’ mind if I do, pilgrim.”

By God you swear you love her more each day. She is the best, and you are the luckiest man alive. Your appetite is rumbling out of control as you enter in search of dinner. Coming in from the desert, the interior of the grill restaurant is impressive. There is a lot of cedar and maple and oak. They haven’t skimped. It is a distillation of the Continental United States in timber. Movie starlet waitresses carry plates piled with steaks and mashed potato, pitchers of beer, frozen martinis. The room is filled with the comforting background hum of a world now replete and thinking about another glass of wine. Here is America in repose, at peace with herself. Hey, we really lucked out, finding this place. Except. At the bar, two red-faced sunburnt Scotchmen with red arms and accents are explaining to themselves how they invented the jet engine, the aeroplane, the windscreen wiper, the doorknob…

“Honey, what say we press on? It’s only 300 miles to the next stop.”
“Amen to that.”

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