Old Friends on the Weekend and New Friends at Dinner

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Last weekend was a long one, and I spent it in the Berkshire mountains with 15 or so good friends. For the last five years, we have gone to my friend Doug’s home in Mill River, Massachusetts, to have Burns Night.

For those of you not familiar with Burns Night, it’s typically celebrated on January 25, the birthday of Scottish Poet Robert Burns. However, we have always celebrated on President’s Day weekend because everyone has Monday off. Having recently finished my pack of antibiotics, I took it very easy on the booze, but did partake of a “wee dram” during the reciting of such wonderful poems as “Scotch Drink”, “I’ll Go and Be a Sodger,” and the crowd-pleasing “Cock Up Your Beaver.” (No, pervert, it’s not what you think—it means to tip your hat.)

As we dined on the traditional Burns supper of haggis with neeps and tatties and sipped Lagavulin by the raging fire whilst Dougie MacLean played softly in the background, it felt like it probably did some 200-odd years ago. I must say, it’s rare to find good friends having so much fun reciting poetry and then reeling the Dashing White Sergeant. After a solid meal, there is nothing better to bring the blood sugar down than the Dashing White Sergeant performed by five groups of three.

It is also rare to find 16 people in one room eating haggis. If you’ve never had the haggis, if done right it’s unlike anything else you will ever experience. And by “done right,” I mean that the sheep stomach it is cooked in is brought out on a platter and placed in the center of the crowd as the chef reads Burns’s “Address To A Haggis”…and at said time in the poem, the chef stabs the stomach with a large knife, its contents come gushing out, and everyone gets a fork and a plate and hops in line for the feast.

At this point, the first thing that runs through my mind is that this would be a great time to play the “D card.” (“I have diabetes, I can’t eat this!”) But oh, no—I’m a five-year veteran with this stuff, and now I actually look forward to my haggis. So we ate, then danced, then sat around until late in the night singing songs, including a rousing version of the Burns poem “The Fornicator.”

My wife Katherine, my friend Murray, and I set it to some of our own music and came up with a really catchy chorus that had everyone singing along. Murray and I will likely add it to our set for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It looks like we are about 90% sure that we will be performing there in August. It will be my first time in Scotland and my first lengthy international trip with diabetes. Gotta be sure to take extras of everything in case of an emergency.

In other news, I had dinner last night at the world famous Katz’s Deli on NYC’s Lower East Side with fellow bloggers Jan and Tara, former blogger Katie, and friend Sandy. We dined on overstuffed pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, knishes, and pickles. Highlights included: learning that it’s really expensive to get your company’s name on the napkins at ADA (American Diabetes Association) events and that the food there is usually nothing diabetes-friendly; seeing that Katie has a photo of Tara’s rabbit, Dennis Hopper, on her phone; deciding that the Brawny man should have never shaved his moustache; and finding out that Larry Bird is a jerk. Everything you can ask for in a dinner conversation. Hope to do it another time when everyone is in town again.

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