In Scotland, you can talk to anybody, anytime as long as you start each conversation with a weather observation. For its part, the country provides you with weather. They might not do the big stuff—hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue photo shoots—but they do have a lot of wee weather. And the best part is that all you have to do to have an actual Scottish conversation is repeat back what you hear. You don’t even have to know what you’re saying.Scot: “It’s a wee dreich today.” Me: “Dreich?” Scot: “Ah wis juist sayin it’s a nice drookit smirr. Me: “Drookit smirr?” Scot: “Aye, crakin’ efter yesterday’s wee pish-oot.” Me: “Pish-oot?” Scot: “Course my son tells me tomorrow will be rainin’ auld wives and pipe staples.” Me: “Old wives? Really? With pipe staples?” Scot: “Aye. Wee ones.”
Then you admire each other’s dogs, and go home to look up what you said. If you’re lucky, you just agreed that the weather was predictably awful and will probably stay that way. But who knows? You might have agreed to a sex act or the purchase of heroin-flavored haggis.
But a terrible thing happened here in Glasgow over the weekend. There was no weather. None. The sun was shining, the parks were full of kids chasing dogs and tourists chasing kilts. Nobody made eye contact, because really – what was there to say? They may discuss a nice day down there in England, but here the conversation requires actual weather.
Luckily, by Monday things were back to normal so I put on my raincoat and went out to talk to Glasgow. The dog and I sat down between two gentlemen on the park bench, and we all watched the rain for a moment. After we had agreed that it was indeed a wee dreich, and I was in fact from the States, my two new friends added the following observations.
- What do they call six weeks of nonstop rain in Glasgow? Summer
- What comes after two straight days of rain in Glasgow? Monday
- It only rains twice a year in Glasgow—October to May, and June to September
- Tourists always ask when it will be summer. We tell them last year it was on a Wednesday…