[Part 1: The quest begins.]
On day two — a rainy, foul Saturday — I attended a Masters Football tournament, an indoor soccer event featuring retired players from various Scottish teams. One of the organizers, amazingly named Will Rogers, had comped me a ticket to the sold-out event, and as a way of showing my gratitude I bought him a beer at halftime. I also told him what I was really in Glasgow for. Which is how, just after halftime, I heard an announcement over the house speakers. “Now don’t laugh,” said the emcee, “but if there is a Mr. or Mrs. McTavish here, please go to the bar for a free drink.” But no one — not even a drunk looking for a handout — showed up.
Afterwards, quite distressed, I scoured the streets in a bustling shopping district for businesses bearing the name McTavish. Hours later, as I was about to give up and go get drunk at a pub and declare myself a failure, I stumbled across a bar named the Iron Horse, whose sign said, in small letters, “MacTavish’s.” A cloud lifted, and I vigorously opened the door and stepped into what I assumed to be McTavish’s world. Instead, I was greeted by one of the all-time worst smells: a conflux of beer spills, steamed meat, and vomit. Informed of my mission, a bar manager took me on a tour of the so-called “MacTavish’s meeting room” downstairs, where traditional Highlands regalia — sporns, tams, dirty jokes— adorned the walls. Would I be able to meet this MacTavish person, I asked? “The room’s named after a character in a book,” she sighed, also noting that she had no idea which book.
I woke up on my final morning with a hangover and the realization that I was going to fail miserably. As I lay there marveling at my sad McTavish batting average — 0 for 37 in the “You wouldn’t be named McTavish, would you?” game so far — I heard drums and fife music getting closer and closer to the hotel. I looked out the window to see a tartan army dressed in kilts and sweaters marching down the street. If the racket hadn’t been so goddamn loud, I would have cheered my new resolve. A new idea: To find McTavish, I must become him.
I headed out to a kiltmaker’s and asked the salesman to show me a McTavish tartan. He produced a swatch of red, black and blue, colors befitting a brave and honorable race. The cost for the whole kilt and kaboodle, however, was over $1,000. I decided to become McTavish on the inside.
[Part 3: No McTavish, no pride.]