Though Sue and I are not
seasoned festival-goers, we have discovered a few survival techniques
during the last two years that may save your wallet, body, and marriage
from the ordeals of a Scottish festival.
Where is the car?
When you arrive at the
festival's parking lot, the first thing you must do is remember where you
parked the car (or for us Nevadans, your pickup or SUV).
Since parking spaces are
usually unmarked in large, grassy fields, you'll need to rely on the trail
brazing skills of your forefathers to find your car at the end of the day.
The most effective way of
mastering this memory task is to first note conspicuous landmarks that
triangulate your car's location, then reaffirm these landmarks several
times while walking to the entrance gate.
The key to this technique
is that once you enter the festival grounds, you use your newly discovered
landmarks to return immediately to your car. Actually, the more frequent
your return trips, the better your memory.
Subterfuges are necessary!
At the recent Woodland
games I practiced this technique three times within 30 minutes after the
Now its best to have a
subterfuge when using this technique, otherwise you'll divulge your secret
to others, thereby causing more people to be triangulating in the parking
lot than watching the games.
Subterfuges that Sue
cleverly pick for me are: she forgets her sunglasses, she decides to
change her shoes or coat, and she forgets the entrance tickets. Anything
along these lines will disguise your true intension. Just think how you'll
impress your family and fellow clansmen at the end of the day when you
guide them through the maze of cars without the sightless hesitation. No
scratching your head or aimlessly turning with a blank stare in your eyes,
but walking with the confidence of someone who has been there before.
How big is the tent?
Probably the most important
tip when volunteering to raise your society's tent is to know its size,
that is, will it fit in the space allowed by the festival committee?
If it is too large, you
could be caught in the unflattering position of asking your neighboring
clan to share "just a little" of their space. Not the best way to greet
your fellow Scots, especially if they like to demonstrate the ease at
which one of their family claymores can amputate appendages, such as tent
If this happens to you, a
quick bribe of single malt should be offered immediately.
What goes up... comes down!
Lowering the tent (also
known as collapsing) is not something for the faint-of-heart, but you
couldn't ask for a more spontaneous way to share clan fellowship as your
cousins extract your body parts from the collapsed tent.
An "E-Z Up" tent may be
just that, easy to lift, but the reserve doesn't hold true because all
tent legs must be collapsed simultaneously.
Each person at a tent leg
simply pushes the center leg button in unison to allow the upper half of
the tent leg to rapidly slide on to your other hand holding the lower
portion of the leg.
As your eyes begin to water
and an old Scottish oath nears your lips, you quickly learn to step on the
foot of the tent leg while lifting the upper portion with all your might
to free the thin skin between your thumb and index finger that was caught
between the two halves of the tent leg.
But if you're lucky, your
head was caught inside the tent when it dropped, this way you merely raise
the 100+ pound tent as it rests on your shoulder, which is of course,
assuming you didn't go to your knees from the weight of the tent's impact.
The best away to help
during the tent lowering is to remind the tent leg attendants, while you
are standing well away from them, to closely follow the tent leader's
instructions and to watch their fingers.
Does mustard yellow go with
Wearing the proper shirt
color is essential. I'm not referring to the colors of your clan tartan,
but the colors of the fast food you plan to eat during the day, such as,
mustard yellow, ketchup red, and gravy brown.
If you aren't careful and
are rather creative in your eating habits, you could fabricate a
one-of-a-kind family tartan on your shirt in no time.
Where are the "loo's?"
I assume that for most
women, knowing the location of restrooms with the shortest lines should
have been at the top of the list.
I must admit that this is
not something I would have given much thought to if not for Sue's
occasional derogatory comments about the lines and the disgusting looks I
and other males in general get from the lined up women as we quickly enter
and leave the other facility.
At these times, gentlemen,
it's best to casually look in the opposite direction. I think I better get
back to the subject of finding short lines before my diversion gets me
into some domestic trouble.
Anyway, short lines, by
design, are in less popular areas and in hidden corners of buildings.
Secret locations of
There are two such places
at Woodland: One is tucked behind a vendor's booth in the far corner of
the vendor's building immediate to your right as you enter the main gate;
and the other is at the other end of the grounds near the dog trial arena.
Because of their distant
locations, however, some pre-planning is essential before drinking that
large cup of lemon-aid.
How to shop at a Games!
Buying merchandise, such as
jewelry, clothes, and other odd and ends, at the festival is a complex art
that takes some time to learn.
Early morning is the best
time to buy, though it usually requires that you enter the festival
grounds before the official opening time. This way you beat the crowds and
get the full attention of the vendors.
Note, however, that this
technique frequently requires that you help the vendor unpack his boxes or
uncover his tables, but don't worry, it is still to your advantage because
you'll be able to examine the merchandise without the interference of
others, unless of course, some pesky, early bird wants to buy something
Now, after your start
hitting the vendors early, don't overly compare items among the shops nor
seek the advice of your spouse.
Buy "it" now!
My simple motto, at least
for those outside of my family, is when you find "it", buy "it"!
example occurred in Woodland when I noticed a unique sporran at 8:47 A.M.
(gates opened at 9. A.M), but I decided to "shop around" just in case I
could find it cheaper at another booth, even though the vendor only had
one in stock.
Needless to say, I didn't
find another of the same design until later in the day when a fellow
clansmen showed me one he had recently purchased.
It was more than the same
design, it was the same one!
I discovered the
"spouse-advice-technique" the expensive way when I recently .
I spotted a dandy silver
lapel pin for my coat.
Being the frugal and
gracious husband that I am, I asked Sue for her advice about the cost and
her impression of the design.
Having excellent taste and
a good sense of value, she immediately spotted a distinguished silver
necklace lying next to the pin, which she quickly observed was a good
match to the pin.
So I now have my pin for
four times what it would have cost alone and Sue, I must say, has a very
attractive, matching necklace.
Beware the re-enactment
Watch out for the
re-enactment people because they can really get into their parts,
especially the entertainment troop that encourages people from the crowd
to participate in simple sporting events, such as the tug-a-war between
two people standing on small wooden boxes. I thought that such an event
couldn't be too hard because it's mainly technique with a little muscle.
So I closely watched the
husker's technique for about 20 minutes as he got young and old to come
forward for their due embarrassment.
His opponents would either
pull too hard, in which case he would simply release the rope and they
would fall backwards, or they wouldn't pull, in which case he would slowly
pull them forward off the block.
I soon figured it out.
You need only counter pull
with equal force while maintaining your balance on the one foot square box
So I eagerly stepped
forward for a try. I must say, my observations proved correct because I
put up three long matches before being defeated.
Long matches, that was my
If you do
participate...don't tell your chiropractor!
I forget to mention that
you play this game by keeping your legs slightly flexed and your back bent
nearly 90 degrees at the waist.
You need few muscles in
your arms or legs for this game, but young, flexible muscles in your back.
After I was tricked off the
box for the third time, my back graciously allowed me to slowly rise to a
semi-vertical position for the sportsmen hand shake. In fact, it took
several minutes for my back to fully regain its dignity.
Gain fame and fortune!
I'm sure you'll gain the
admiration of your family and others if you follow these simple tips at
the next festival.
Just think of the ecstasy
you'll experience as you conquer the parking lot with the ease of Kit
Carson, are the first to buy items after a simple glimpse, and artfully
captain others in the rising and lowering of the clan tent.
He who knows where the rest
room is...is a hero!
And just think men, how
you'll dazzle your wife or girl friend with directions to that cherished