Gentle Reader, suffice it to say that my last place of employment was a trifle eccentric. I languished there, but I also flourished; deep friendships were wrought, and it was honest work. My boss was frequently generous; she would buy everyone lunch, from time to time, or bring in cookies and hot chocolate on a snowy winter’s day. One day, she invited the entire crew to something called the Tartan Ball. Her daughter had been involved with a Scottish pipe-band for a number of years, and L enjoyed their annual event.
Well, I have never been known to turn down the chance to attend a formal affair. Despite the grumblings of some of the crew – the Boys, actually, if you recall – about spending time with their boss and coworkers outside of work hours, I gently nudged them towards accepting the already-purchased tickets. Grudgingly, they did; when the day arrived, attired in our best, we piled into my van, Roosevelt*, and set out for the ball. To the strains of such subtle artists as Weezer and Lady Gaga we flew through the night, chain-smoking and taking nips from a flask†. On arrival, we met L and her husband and the tickets were handed around. It turns out that our party was comprised entirely of happy heterosexual couples, with two lone bachelors – myself and Mr. Wise.
Oi. Naturally, it only took a moment before I asked the young straight man to be my escort for the evening‡. What’s more, he actually agreed, and behaved like a gentleman all night, despite being more usually a caricature of a twenty-year-old boy, with all the puerile humor that implies. He was very attentive during the supper, making sure that I had plenty of gin-and-tonics (merely waving the waiter over, of course).
When the performance itself began, none of us knew quite what to expect; I have heard a great deal of bag-pipe music before, but I had never seen them en masse. Frankly, for my taste, one is a little much, but I am always open to new experiences; I held back my reservations. I may have been aided in this by the aforementioned gin; I was getting fairly swiffy in front of my boss – I am unused to mixing work and pleasure. A vast caterwauling began amongst the tromping of boots; it was the first clan. I subtly indicated to my young man that I desperately needed a cigarette; would he be so good as to walk me out?
Subtlety is not Mr. Wise’s strong point. When I finally got it across, this happened.
There was quite a bit of slipping-out-of-doors for a quick cigarette over the course of the evening, but it was generally an enjoyable time. Our party collectively agreed to leave fairly early; some of us had work in the morning, and the evening was getting on. We posed for one last snap before the trip home, then dispersed into the night.
* I still drove at the time. Named for both Franklin and Eleanor, of course.
†I still drove, but I was not driving that evening. Obviously.
‡For whatever reason, straight boys really dig me. This is a long-standing issue.