As we shuffled slowly across Victoria Park, I chatted tentatively with Colin in the manner of new friends. He seemed like a great bloke, happily dispensing conversation that drifted quickly away from the stagnant topics we were forced to begin with. Luckily we had his imminent wedding to discuss, which was always going to give us a base camp from which to go foraging. I was looking forward to the wedding; excited to be visiting the Shetland Islands for the first time and secretly hoping to see a plethora of miniature ponies, hopefully being ridden by miniature monkeys. I decided after some deliberation to keep that information to myself; I had learned the hard way that some people react strangely to flights of fancy involving equidite riding simians. Particularly small ones.
The group arrived at Victoria Park Pavilion. Colin and I stood around trying to look like men while the girls busied themselves poking Amy's two year old son Ruban. The little ginger haired chap wore the expression of someone who simply couldn't fathom why everyone was still hanging around being boring when they could instead be at home watching Pingu on repeat. Not getting the reaction they were looking for, the girls continued to prod.
Remembering that the guests had been invited to attend a dancing class a few nights before the wedding, I asked Colin about it. We wouldn't be able to attend and I was loathe to miss it: unless traditional Scottish dancing shared some kind of similarity to Axl Rose's hip sashé, I was going to be in a lot of trouble.
“So I’m a bit worried that I won't be able to remember how to strip the Willow.” I confided.
It was true. The last time I tried I'd lost the group I was dancing with on the very first change. My partner pretended she didn’t mind, but I could tell she was upset. I could plainly see that to her, failing to strip the Willow was paramount to contracting an odious yeast infection. At the time I felt no humiliation over my error. After all, I wasn’t even sure what the Willow was.
“Not a worry mate.” said my new ginger haired friend. “Getting it wrong is all part of the fun. In fact, Céilidh dancing was invented so that Scottish men had an excuse to beat their women.”
An uncomfortable silence formed between us. A coyote howled in the distance.
“That’s a joke, right?” I asked.
“Oh good. Just thought I’d clarify.”
“When you didn’t laugh I thought uh oh. Now he’s going to think I’m a wife basher.”
“Nope. Comedian. Got it.”
But I didn't get it. I was no closer to realising my goal of appropriate Willow stripping. So, lacking the necessary technical know-how to pull off a barn dance heist I settled on a compromise: As long as I could get through the night without falling over and revealing the darkside of my kilt, I would consider it a win.
Sometimes, when I feel low, I go and try on the wedding dresses over at humor-blogs.com. It's comforting to know that I look good in a taffeta veil, even though I'm destined to always have the hips of a bridesmaid.