Behold the Scottish male, at his happiest when in denial

jane   Tue Mar 07, 2006 6:14 am GMT
I don't get it!
This is a phrase from Ian Rankin's novel. I think I understand very well each word here, but the meaning of the whole sentence is absolutely vague and grammatically incoherent to me. Help me please!
Ocher   Tue Mar 07, 2006 6:56 am GMT
There's nothing wrong with the grammar, but the meaning is certainly abstruse out of context: in which book was it, and what were the circumstances?
Uriel   Tue Mar 07, 2006 7:23 am GMT
It's not grammatically incoherent at all.

"Behold the Scottish male" = an imperative to look at (or consider) the typical Scotsman

"at his happiest when in denial" = a description of his condition.

You will see this construction a lot:

"She's happiest (or 'at her happiest') when she's dancing."
"He's at his best when he's got an appreciative audience."
"You're really seeing me at my worst this morning; come back in the afternoon when I've had a chance to relax and get myself together."

Although "happiest" is technically an adjective and you would expect "at" to go with a noun, here the noun is implied -- at his happiest (point, state, condition, frame of mind, etc.).
Delirious Damian   Tue Mar 07, 2006 9:12 am GMT
Most Scots (whether m or f) are in way are we subordinate to the English, and with that, we are over the moon.

Behold a Scottish male in denial...happy as a pig in s**t. :-)
jane   Tue Mar 07, 2006 10:00 am GMT
to Ocher Uriel and Delirious Damian :
so putting it in my own words, the typical Scotsman feel happy denying?
Yes, it does make sense regarding the context:
-Do you want to talk about any of it? (....)
-I don't think talking would help.
-But bottling it up does? (...) Behold the Scottish male, at his happiest when in denial.
Thanks a lot. But still the phrase looks unusual to me, sounds (to my ESL ears) like some quotation or proverb.
Guest   Tue Mar 07, 2006 11:24 am GMT
In other words,
Consider the Scottish male: he is happiest when he is in self-denial.

Self-denial means he can't live up to his own expectations so he can't accept his true predicament in life.
Uriel   Wed Mar 08, 2006 3:16 am GMT
When someone is "in denial" they are deliberately refusing to see things for the way they really are.
Adam   Wed Mar 08, 2006 10:57 am GMT
Try reading a novel by Scottish author Irving Welsh.
jane   Wed Mar 08, 2006 6:49 pm GMT
thank you. I will.
Damian in Edinburgh   Wed Mar 08, 2006 7:36 pm GMT
The novel Adam is most probably referring to is Trainspotting, a story of the seedy low life drugs scene in Edinburgh, made into a film with Ewan McG. yaaawwwnnn..... like the new Rebus ITV series of Ian Rankin's stories of crime in this city. Both give a bad impression of my beautiful and cultural and civilised and fun place city! :-(

Irvine Welsh:
***Writer Irvine is said to be on the verge of quitting Scotland after being offered a job in the U.S - teaching American students the finer art of talking Scottish!***

Now that would be really guid to see (or rather hear)! Pure Edinburghspeak pervading deepest darkest Detroit..... LOL
Guest   Wed Mar 08, 2006 8:10 pm GMT
Does Adam actually answer any real on topic questions around here. I've had a look and can't find any. In the last week I've answered more.