Tuesday, September 4, 2012

More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Tossing The Caber...

The whole idea of going to Pleasanton, California - beyond searching for Men In Kilts - was to actually see the Scottish Games, and it included witnessing The Caber Toss. So very Scottish in its nature, even more so, from my point-of-view than following a little white ball around and knocking it into random rodent holes with curved sticks in impossibly difficult Highlands landscapes. Today's simple sand traps and groomed green links can't hold a candle to what the original Scots must have had to face in their inventive version of the game of golf. Can you imagine it?

The crowd watches in breathless anticipation while the Men In Kilts discuss strategy...

But for sheer lack of practical skills, other than a show of sweaty brute force and expenditure of testosterone, the Caber Toss has to be the winner of games.

Locate a loose telephone pole and ask a couple of your mates to bring it to you. 

Have them stand it upright at your feet and steady it with your hands.

Bend over with a straight back - no stretchy sissy yoga moves here - and grip the pole low and hard.

Stand up. Balance the telephone pole against the wind and against all odds.

Run forward, sometimes backwards a bit to retain the graceful balance, and gain momentum. Simple, eh?

Not done yet: The release: toss the telephone pole upward and outward. Grunt a little.

Make sure it lands on its forward end. The fellas at this particular Games had to contend with a hard, dry, well-groomed surface that tended to bounce the pole and not allow it to stick, but rather skip lazily after all that effort of launching it skyward. I can see how a spongey bog would be a better place to toss cabers for the intended effect of making the pole fall forward after it makes contact with the ground - or maybe a squirrel-hole-pocked bit of field that might be found in the Highlands, although I am not sure there are ground squirrels there, but I digress...

Pray for a proper forward fall of the gigantic pole. This short moment of time must be LON-N-NG for the man in kilts.

Most of them did not get it to topple forward at all. When it did the crowd applauded politely. A roar went up for one guy... I assume he was their champion. Or, MY champion, I should say, being of miniscule Scottish heritage. I "woot-woot"-ed when the lie of the pole was forward.

Most often, there was the long walk of shame back to the starting point, often with the telltale limp of a pulled hamstring or worse.

We watched for several tosses, and each MacParticipant was allowed best of three. A long, sweaty battle of the Big Men in Kilts...

I chose not to stick around for the Women's Exhibition Caber Toss Event. I would rather leave that in my imagination... forever. Whoa.