Scottish voters have spoken: They are staying.
The union that has weathered 307 years of storms — if you didn’t quit right after the Victorian era, you’d think you wouldn’t quit at all — has survived a vote on the question of Scottish independence.
Now, with the voting done and the crowds dispersed, the Lion and the Unicorn sit down in the dining room of the humble home they have officially shared for 300 years, not including the reign of King James, a courtship period during which they were still feeling each other out.
A hush falls.
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“Is there anything I can get you?” England asks. “Foot rub? More autonomy?”
Scotland ignores it.
“That kilt looks lovely,” England says. “Really lovely. Love kilts.” England’s fork clatters against its plate. “This haggis is great,” England adds. “I didn’t bring it up a lot during the referendum campaign, but I was going to really miss it.”
“Thanks,” Scotland says, unenthusiastically.
“And the sound of bagpipes,” England says. “You look lovely today. Did I mention that? Your heaths especially. And bogs.”
“Calm down,” Scotland says.
“I know you’ve been threatening to leave for years,” England says. “But I didn’t think you’d really — I mean, other territories have come and gone, but I thought we were still strong. What we have is special, I thought.”
“Oh, a special relationship?” Scotland asks. “Like you have with the United States?”
“You know it’s not like that,” England says. “They haven’t been with us for almost 250 years. Listen, you’ve given us so much. Peter Capaldi, there’s a man. The poet Burns. Golf. Mel Gibson.”
“Are you just going to list things?” Scotland says. “I could do without you just listing things like that.”
“I just don’t want you to feel that I don’t notice and appreciate all that you do,” England says, moving the haggis around on its plate. “Because I do. James McAvoy, now there’s a fellow. John Loudon McAdam, the man with the nuts and the roads. And Macbeth. The Scottish play.”
“You’re just saying things with ‘Mac’ in them,” Scotland says. “You could be guessing.”
“I’m not guessing!” England says. “I appreciate you. Think what I’d be without you. Where would we keep the royals during some seasons of the year?”
“Really?” Scotland says. “Balmoral? Really, that’s the first thing that occurred to you?”
“No,” England says. “Of course not. Other things occurred to me. I was trying for a note of levity.”
“Oh,” Scotland says. “Levity.”
“It would have been really awkward if you’d left,” England says, after a silence. “I mean, Ireland is its own island, so that made a certain sort of sense, but for you to go — it would have sent the wrong message. We would still be occupying the same space, and it really isn’t a huge island when you come right down to it.”
“That’s true,” Scotland says.
“I mean, we’d still shop at the same places, and we share a border — I mean, you have to consider the border, it’s not going anywhere. At any rate, I intend not to take you for granted any longer. Things will be different. I want you to know that.”
“Do you mean that?” Scotland asks. “Do you really?”
“Oh yes,” England says. “You know I do. We’re the Lion and Unicorn, just like the poem. The lion and the unicorn were fighting for the crown …”
“I know the poem,” Scotland says. Scotland pours itself a large glass of Scotch and sips it, staring out the window. “I think I made the right decision. It just wasn’t a good time to leave, financially, and we’re stronger together.”
“Quite right,” England says, “Besides, if you’d gone, think what Wales might have done. Or Texas might get ideas.”
“You don’t seriously care about Texas, do you?”
“No,” England says. “I suppose not. But it’s the principle of the thing.”
Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog at www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost.
© 2014, The Washington Post