Dressing the Part
Carmel resident James Jauregui shows his love for Celtic culture in colorful ways.
Thursday, January 6, 2005
When I meet James Jauregui at Piatti’s Restaurant in Carmel on a winter afternoon, it is easy to tell that Jauregui, who has lived in Carmel for 31 of his 47 years, is really pumped up about Celtic culture. I’m tipped off by the red, white and blue colored tartan wrap on his shoulders, the plaid shirt under the wrap, the ear clip attached to his left ear lobe (okay, not quite sure if it’s Celtic), and finally, a leather pouch called a sporran that hangs over his groin. He tells me the sporran is an old-fashioned crotch shield.
Jauregui says he first became interested in Celtic culture after viewing the movie The Master of Ballantrae—starring Errol Flynn as a swashbuckling highlander—when he was just five years old. Soon after, young Jauregui discovered his great-grandfather was from a Celtic province in Spain, and his grandmother’s grandfather had lived in Scotland. The longtime Celtic enthusiast says he was drawn to the culture by the people’s style of dress and their “warlike spirit.”
As for his everyday Celtic dress, Jauregui admits that he has been wearing the clothes that pay tribute to his Celtic ancestry for awhile.
“I have worn mixed plaids every day for 25 to 30 years,” he says.
He explains that the Celts have a long history of wearing plaid.
“I am Celtic, and plaid is Celtic dress,” he says. “The style and way I wear it goes back to 400 BC.”
Jauregui lets me in on a few good places around the area to purchase plaid garments, including garage sales, Macy’s, and Carmel’s Scotch House, a specialty clothing store with apparel from Scotland.
“I have probably spent two thousand, three thousand dollars [at the Scotch House] over the years,” he says.
His love for anything Celtic would be even more apparent on one of the 14 Celtic military days that he commemorates each year. On these days—including a remembrance of Falkirk on January 17th—Jauregui gets decked out in a kilt and carries one of his swords, spears or knives around town.
“I’m the only person in Carmel who can carry weapons without being hassled by the police,” he says.
A few minutes later, Jauregui amends his previous statement about always wearing Celtic dress by confessing that he doesn’t wear mixed plaids to his two restaurant jobs. He also informs me that he used to avoid wearing mixed plaids on his out-of-town excursions.
That leads us to Jauregui’s other offbeat hobby: taking annual bus trips around the United States. In 1980, he took a trip around California by bus to save some money. The next year, Jauregui made a pilgrimage by bus to the town in Maine where he was born. In addition, he journeyed to the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio and to Bethesda, Maryland—a town where he lived as a young boy.
“I traveled on that monthly pass for 8,100 miles,” he says.
When asked about the sort of people one meets while taking a bus ride, Jauregui answers with, “Oh wow, you meet all kinds of people, believe me.”
Further pressed, Jauregui says that a lot of the people riding on the bus who are dressed in strange get-ups usually have a vacant seat next to them. One time, Jauregui was brave enough to sit by a man wearing a turban, a camoflauge jacket and a skirt. According to Jauregui, the man spent the whole trip writing numbers on a piece of paper. Most of the time, the man obsessively scrawled zeroes on page after page of paper.
After getting off the bus in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the strange man called a taxi. When the taxi driver arrived, he asked the driver where to buy dope. The driver took off, and a short time later, the Cheyenne Police Department stopped by to pick up Juaregui’s former bus mate—most likely, it wasn’t a ride to a dope dealer.
Recently, Jauregui confesses that he has started wearing his Celtic dress on road trips. He says it makes ruffians in some urban areas think twice before messing with him. As an added bonus, Jauregui admits that he has more room on his annual road trips when he wears mixed plaids, because the seat next to him is usually vacant.