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scotland thomaSmall talk gets a bad rap. This is true because most of the time small talk feels so uncomfortably forced, being something seen as not all that necessary to friendships but almost certainly required for interaction with acquaintances. But the problem is that at any particular gathering of people, both friends and acquaintances are in attendance. To this I say that as long as you aren’t completely incapacitated by antisociability, small talk can be the onramp to a swifter thoroughfare, one that sees acquaintances becoming friends. It doesn’t have to be relegated to that fearfully unapportioned space between arrival and departure. You just need to be prepared. Being prepared helps you to identify obvious but fertile topics. Here’s what I mean.

Surely you’ve been chatting with your spouse or friend and small talk has occurred. What did you talk about with ease? Excusing the inappropriate topics suitable only for such friendships, let the others remain. Did you talk about work? Maybe the kids? Did you talk about the weather? All of these epitomize small talk, and all are available for coaxing the conversation to more robust worlds of rapport.

Take for example any of the topics I mentioned above. They all deal with life where you are right now at this moment. But after a few somnolent nods from folks around the dinner table, maybe someone took a chance and helped graduate it to: “If you could choose to live anywhere in the world, where would it be?” See what just happened?

Now, I need to reveal something.

I couldn’t figure out how to introduce this particular list. To be completely honest, feeling a bit dulled today, I originally started this post by asking, “So, how’s the weather in your part of the world?”

Yeah. Lame.

Hopefully those of you who know me already appreciate that I don’t like to dwell in the realm of small talk with what I offer here at Angelsportion.com. I want to take whatever it is that I’m writing – a review, an article, or whatever – and go quite a bit further. I want the reader to feel as though he or she has received more than what was expected, that it was worth the while, and perhaps even led to the reader sensing the kindled ember of friendship beginning to glow. In order to get to this point today, it was necessary for me to employ my own theory regarding small talk, and so I went back and inserted the evolution of my inner conversation stirred by the question about the weather.

Michigan weather sucks. In fact, I’ve articulated for my wife that we could just as easily be poor clergy folk living in Florida as opposed to living where it’s cold eight months of the year. Of course to this, our conversation has sometimes evolved to the question I mentioned before: “If you could choose to live anywhere in the world, where would it be?”

And now my list, which is also my answer to the question. Here are my top ten reasons for desiring to live in Scotland.

#10 – Grass grows everywhere.
At our previous residence, there were places in my yard where, no matter how hard I tried, I could not get grass to grow. It drove me crazy. And yet, when I visited Scotland in 2010, the kindly couple with whom I was so graced to reside owned and drove a truck that had grass growing in the bed. They assured me that in Scotland, if something sits for a short period of time, grass will grow on it. Amazing.

#9 – The Loch Ness Monster
My wife laughs at me often for this. She laughs because while I’ll openly criticize the levels of stupidity employed to create the modern television shows she and a multitude of Americans so thoroughly enjoy, if I’m not watching the news or the History Channel, I’m watching some cryptozoological or pseudoscientific show on the Discovery Channel about yetis, Jersey devils, or more specifically, ol’ Nessie. Yeah, I know. So, sue me. I just happen to believe that there are quite a few of God’s creatures roaming around out there that are pretty good at hiding from us.

#8 – Kilts
Kilts are flat out cool. To think that men use to go to war wearing these and little else is even cooler.

#7 – Golf. Just kidding. I hate golf. But the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews is magnificent.
Golf is the one thing that Scotland gave us for which it should be sorrowful and perhaps even write an official apology; however, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews is worth a regular visit for the sheer architecture and atmosphere. In fact, while I’ve never been there, I hear there is a fine venue for lodging and dining in St. Andrews proper called the Peat Inn. When I am eventually retired and living in Scotland for a few months of the year, I hope to visit.

#6 – Castles
So many tourist destinations tout their castles – England, Germany, heck, even North Carolina, West Virginia, and Illinois stake claims as having magnificent castles – but none are like Scotland’s. Even the wimpiest castle in Scotland bares itself as a brusque warrior in comparison to the world’s collection. Take a look at Edinburgh and Stirling castles when you get a chance. You’ll see what I mean.

#5 – William Wallace
Watch “Braveheart” and you’ll understand.

#4 – The Scottish Highlands
Coming in for a midday landing, passing just above the misty highlands, well, I just can’t remember seeing anything as equally inviting or serene. I suppose that the only other thing even remotely comparable was my wife coming down the aisle, or perhaps an infant sleeping.

#3 – The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
No, this isn’t a tattoo parlor in Edinburgh. It’s an event within a larger series of festivals that happens every August in Edinburgh. The word “tattoo” literally means “turn off the tap,” and from this alone, I’ll bet you can tell it’s a big deal to the Scots. The “tattoo” was the signal sound to the pubs to turn off the taps and to send the imbibing soldiers back to the barracks to prepare for duty. Now some might suggest that this would only see to the ranks being inundated with armed and drunken Scots, but having read about the whisky-drinking fortitude of these soldiers, I doubt they were any less capable on the field. Anyway, in the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, there is now this world famous exhibition of military music and theatrics. It is quite the experience. Take a look.

#2 – The Scottish Isles, namely, the Isle of Skye
Skye is the largest of Scotland’s isles. Not only is it the place to go for visiting picturesque seaside hamlets that can so easily whisk you away to centuries prior, but it’s also like visiting a miniature Scotland within Scotland. In other words, you have nearly everything that the country as a whole offers – misty highlands, sea swept lowlands, ancient forests, historic distilleries, verdant glens, vibrant flora, and bountiful wildlife. I would live in Scotland if only to be able to make regular visits to Skye.

#1 – Scotch Whisky and the innumerable assortment of Distilleries
Go figure, right.

Slàinte mhath!