Lassies Reply to the Laddies’ Toast to the Lassies: #metoo version

Our friends, Alison and David, hosted another wonderful Burns’ Supper a few weekends ago and I volunteered to present the Lassies Reply to the Laddies’ Toast to the Lassies. Here it is:

Thank you, Dean, for that poetic and surprisingly woke toast to the Lassies.

I would also like to thank our gracious hosts, David and Alison. You never fail to blow me away with the feasts you provide your guests for the fun events you host.

Full disclosure here, I volunteered to give this reply to the Laddies after a couple glasses of wine. I really need to learn to not volunteer for things after a couple glasses of wine. The last time I had the honor of giving a lassies reply to the laddies toast to the lassies was 7 years ago. If I recall correctly, I replied to Scott’s toast which, as the saying goes, was a tough act to follow.

Before I begin, know that I appreciate each of the laddies in this room.

  • David – I love your sense of humor and have enjoyed being your friend for these past fifteen or so years. Also don’t be mad at me about my reply.
  • Scott – you have such a wealth of knowledge and I always look forward to hearing your stories.
  • Kumar – I don’t see you often, but when I do it is always a joy to talk to you.
  • Peter – I’ve enjoyed watching you grow up into a kind, loving, smart young adult.
  • Brandon – You are extra special to me for so many reasons. I am delighted you are visiting and are a part of tonight’s supper.
  • And Dean – yeah, you’re okay too (actually you’re pretty terrific and I am still glad that 38 years ago you were sitting all alone at that table in that bar when I walked in. With Marcia.)

It’s been a tough year for most of us here. We’ve had to watch as ideologies and values we’d taken for granted – like kindness, common decency, diversity, scientific evidence, etc. were devalued by the laddie who lives in the White House and his groveling sycophantic republican members of congress.

But let’s talk about other laddies:

It’s been a disastrous year for some laddies – not any of the laddies here, you are all true gentlemen. The laddies I mean are those laddies that were publicly called out for sexual harassment, and worse, by some very brave lassies (and a laddie or two).

But I imagine it has been an uncomfortable time for all laddies, even maybe for some of those in this room. Maybe you remembered something you said or did in your youth that could have been construed as harassment – or might be interpreted as harassment today. Or maybe you were just ashamed of your fellow laddies.

When I was thinking about what I would say tonight, and decided its theme would be hashtag metoo, I remembered the many informative Immortal Memory speeches that – usually Laura – has given over the years and it occurred to me (with Andrew’s input) that the laddie we honor tonight, given today’s mores, could be considered a champion sexual harasser – and worse.

So I asked Professor Google and depending on which article you read after searching “Robert Burns Me too“, you will discover that Burns was either a possible rapist, a “sex pest,” or simply a “ladies man.”

In a letter Burns that wrote to a friend he describes having his way with Jean Armour, his heavily pregnant (with twins), soon-to-be wife in a manure-filled horse stall. Yet in his poem “The Rights Of Woman” he assures women that he and his buddies are “well-bred men” who were glad that “those Gothic times are fled” “when rough rude man had naughty ways, Would swagger, swear, get drunk, kick up a riot, Nay even thus invade a Lady’s quiet.”

In years past, listening to the Immortal Memory, especially the parts about Robert Burns’ sexual exploits, his illegitimate children, his many affairs, was funny – like a “nudge nudge wink wink” kind of funny. When I thought, this past week, about my reaction those stories, I was ashamed of myself because I was not thinking about the women in the stories – only about the randy laddie.

The articles I read were inconclusive – and as one article so wonderfully put it:

“So what should we make of this? If you’re like me, you have a hunch that the incident described was both painful and degrading. Certainly, if Jean Armour were my friend, I would not hesitate to suggest dumping her boyfriend. But in any case, the jury has been out on Robert Burns for 230 years. Armour, alas, never shall reach out of her grave and carve #MeToo upon her tombstone.”

So now, I don’t know what to think except that I really need to stop dissing Rabbie Burns or I won’t be invited to one of these again.

Thank you. To the Laddies!

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