From the moment I arrived in Scotland I was fascinated by kilts. My assumption that they were an ethnic costume worn only for historic reenactments or cultural shows could not have been more wrong. Ordinary men walked about the streets of Edinburgh in full kilt regalia and members of the Scottish Guard wear kilts. At Edinburgh Castle, tourists queued for a chance to have their photos taken with the cute young guards outfitted in elaborate, medal-pinned uniforms. I stepped to the side and posed with a cute older guard, telling him I wanted my photo taken with someone who, like me, had a bit of gray in his hair. He grinned from ear-to-ear.
My Scottish friends, Dorothy and Ricky, had already treated me to walking tours of Edinburgh and road trips around Scotland, but the best was yet to come. They had been invited to a wedding that just happened to fall during my visit and had asked and obtained permission for me to attend. We drove through the luscious green countryside to the hamlet of Blair Atholl and pulled onto a long driveway, at the end of which loomed Blair Castle, an imposing white, turreted citadel.
We quickly joined the reception underway in the Great Hall, where antlers from generations of hunters were mounted up to the ceiling. Beneath watchful eyes on portraits of Blair ancestors that lined the rich, wood-paneled walls, Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) dancing was soon underway. A Gaelic word for a casual party with music, dancing and entertainment, Ceilidh is the term commonly used to refer to Scottish country dancing. Many of the intricate steps were familiar; I recognized the do-si-do and swing-your-partner moves found in American square dancing. Though my friends cajoled and pleaded, I refrained from joining in. Knowing my two left feet would trip up the procession I instead concentrated on filming the fun.
A month later, back in the U.S. for the wedding of my cousin, Andy MacDonald, I was surprised to learn that his wedding party would also be decked out in kilts to honor our Scottish heritage. Kilts seem to be following me everywhere but alas, even though I watched my Scottish friends and MacDonald relatives fly around dance floors on separate continents, I still have no answer to the age-old mystery of what men wear under those kilts!