Yesterday was Robbie Burns’ 250th birthday. On Saturday, at the best Burns dinner I’ve ever attended, I delivered the following toast to the lassies:
The toast to the lassies is an ancient and venerable tradition. So is beginning a speech with a joke. Sae afore the actual toastin, here’s a joke:
A woman is looking to re-enter the work force, now that her kids are all grown up. But before applying anywhere she goes tae the doctors’ fae a wee physical before takin’ oan a new joab. When she returns her hubby notices she’s just bustin’ wi’ pride and all chuffed.
So he says, “What’s all this about?”
She says, “I’ve just been tae the doctors’ and he said I’ve got the body of a twenty year old, and the heart of a 16 year old”.
To which her hubby fires back…”What about your 50 year old ass?”
“Your name never came up.” She replies. (Joke from Scottish Jokes.)
The first lassie to toast is none other than our hostess, Jessica, who shares her birthday with the bard himself. Many thanks to you for planning and preparing this event for us to come and celebrate bonnie Scotland’s national poet! The warmth of the hospitality as well as the pleasures to be had amongst good friends and pleasant conversation have made this a night to please Robbie, I’m sure, unlike some of the stuffier Burns events that don’t resemble the sort of rollicking good time he was known to enjoy.
Well, first of all, allow me to extend my thanks to ye for preparing the tonight’s bounty. We have dined well, and I believe that Burns himself would have been proud of the evening’s repast—though perhaps with a bit more scotch. Now, Burns was fond of the lassies, oft-captured by the enchantments of Clarinda, Jean, Anna, Kate, and the numerous unnamed “Bonnie Lasses” of his poetry. No doubt their enchantment arose from more than their cooking and baking skills, be they ever so delightful! Indeed, I myself am glad to live in an age wherein the lassies are regarded for more than their domestic skills and beauty—not that I have anything against domestic skills or beauty, either, judging from my choice of wife. For the enchantment of lassies comes from minds that think and imaginations that dream. I have had the enormous pleasure of befriending many a lass, from Highland dancers to the literary to the literary Highland dancers (one of whom is working on a PhD in English) to the dancing literary ones to those versed in ancient languages and those who are able not only be strong intellectually but unafraid emotionally. Nae dout, ye lassies, here forgaithered this forenicht and those oot and aboot in the warld, are an enchantin breed. To quote Rabbie Burns:
“What signifies the life o’ man,
An’ ’twere na for the lasses O”
And so I give the toast to the lassies! To the lassies!