This past week I had my first experience with a Burns Supper, held at St. Columba’s Church of Scotland where I attend services. When I first heard about the dinner I honestly had no idea what it would be like, but I agreed to go and check it out. Before long, I was wrangled into giving a toast and speaking on behalf of the lassies in a speech to the laddies. Me, an American twentysomething who’s just moved to the city and didn’t really know what was going on. Super.
I soon learned what the night entailed: free drinks (wine, beer, palinka, whiskey, you name it), food, traditional Scottish dancing, toasts, and then more drinking and eating and dancing all over again!
There’s usually a toast to the famed Scottish poet Robert Burns (who the whole evening is for!) and then toasts to the laddies and the lassies. One man is chosen to give a toast to the lassies, which is usually sexist and pokes a bit of fun at the women, and then a woman is chosen to give a reply toast back to all of the laddies, jesting and joking about them as well. This year, the toast to the lassies was to be given by my pastor, and I was asked to give the reply to the laddies.
Leading up to this dinner, I will admit that my life was an insane roller coaster of a ride, and I wasn’t feeling inspired in my writing. So I browsed around the internet a bit (of course haha) and found an amazing poem that a pastor had written for her toast to the laddies just a week ago at a celebration in Jerusalem! And so, with her permission, I tweaked it a bit and delivered the poem to great applause at this years Wee Burns Supper in Budapest (because this isn’t even the only Burns Supper in the city — it’s the smaller of the two!).
Feel free to read the poem below and let me know what you think!
Adapted from a poem by the amazing Rev. Kate Reynolds, of the Scottish Episcopal Church
It’s come to me, this daunting task
to give a reply, as a lass.
It’s hard to know just what to say.
I worry I’ll give too much away.
A twenty-something, new to the city
will you all think I’m witty?
I’m single now, with no regret.
I’m not burdened by any man’s debt.
No man to cheat, no man to drink,
but I could get one, in a blink.
No one to judge my TV habits,
and if I need more wine, I’ll grab it.
Men at bars, as I know well,
the way they behave is not so swell.
Dear Rabbie Burns was such a one,
He loved all girls under the sun.
His tender words and roving hands
His love of drink and one-night stands.
Too many men walk the same path
into the pub to women’s wrath.
They wonder why they’re shunned and spurned
with lines like, ‘Baby you’re so hot you burn’.
Boys, is that the best you’ve got?
Too much whisky leads brains to rot.
Women prefer a subtler touch
Some clever chat, a fancy lunch.
Prove to us you’ve read lots of books
And not just bought them for their looks.
There are ideas you ought to know
And actually use, for more than show.
Equal pay for equal work?
Means just that, it’s not a perk.
Don’t dare ignore our fem’nist rants.
Being a woman can be pants.
Thousands of years of patriarchy
have left us really rather snarky.
Men, we love you. We really do.
But there’s some tact you must accrue.
There’s more to life than booze and shags
like shoes, and clothes, and nice handbags!
So come on guys, grow up a bit.
We lassies, we don’t need this …
Our life’s too short, our work’s too hard
for you to treat us like the bard.
So treat us well, be always kind
Loyalty and love, you will find.
Treat us bad, we’ll never forget
Or let you hear the last of it…
I fear I’m getting carried away
I know you’ll change … eventually
So let’s all stand and raise our glasses
In a toast to lads from lasses.
To the great lad’s we’ve kept around, the sorry suckers that we’ve left along the way, and the lucky one’s who’ve still yet to meet us. To the laddies!