Nothing warms the heart like the sight of a man in a kilt delivering ice in the middle of winter. Who is this man? Why does he wear a kilt? Does he participate in the Highland Games? Kevin Tulppo answers these and other probing questions.
MT: Why do you wear a kilt?
Tulppo: The short answer is that I don’t like to wear pants. My own physical comfort is very important to me. I get to be comfortable and express myself without being offensive or annoying.
MT: Are you a Scot?
Tulppo: No. My dad is Finnish, and my mom is northern European mishmosh.
MT: What gave you the idea to wear a kilt?
Tulppo: I’ve always liked how they looked and I’d been thinking about getting one for five or six years.
MT: Are you involved with any groups that wear kilts?
MT: How often do you wear a kilt?
Tulppo: Every day since August of 2002. I have a pair of jeans but I’m not even sure where they are anymore.
MT: What is your occupation?
Tulppo: Route Delivery Driver for Party Time Ice in Ypsilanti. I drive around all over hell and back filling iceboxes at party stores, gas stations and grocery stores.
There’s nothing much to it, really. I go into the store and check the icebox, the guy tells me if, or how many bags he wants. I go back out to the truck and load it up on a handcart and load the box.
MT: Do you literally go to Hell, as in the town, or was that a figure of speech?
Tulppo: Figure of speech. I’ve only been as far west as Pinckney with ice, although 12 or 13 years ago I was working for a moving company in Saginaw and moved a Baptist minister to Hell.
MT: How often do you wear your kilt to work?
Tulppo: Every day.
MT: Have your boss or co-workers ever said anything to you about wearing a kilt?
Tulppo: They thought it was a bit odd, at first. They were all wondering if I was going to break down and wear pants this winter.
MT: How do you stay warm in the winter without pants?
Tulppo: I just keep working.
MT: What other jobs have you had in the past?
Tulppo: I was a cab driver for seven years. I’ve been a bouncer and a bartender, an oil change technician, I’ve done roofing and siding, I was a Military Policeman in the Army for two years.
MT: Did you wear a kilt to those?
Tulppo: Just the last few months of the cab job.
MT: How do you put on your kilt?
Tulppo: Probably the same way you put on a skirt.
MT: How have your kilt-wearing ways affected relations with the opposite sex?
Tulppo: Women seem to really like it. I get a lot of attention when I go out to the bars, but I suspect that most of them see it as a novelty sort of thing.
MT: Where do you get your kilts?
Tulppo: I order them from Seattle-based Utilikilts (www.utilikilts.com).
MT: Do you have a favorite kilt?
Tulppo: I have five kilts. I would say that my olive drab twill is my favorite. I really like the feel of twill. I have a tan khaki that I really like. The khaki is a little heavier and holds the pleats better. I just got a black twill that looks so sharp that I feel overdressed even in sneakers and a Slayer t-shirt.
MT: Do you accessorize?
Tulppo: Just a wide black leather belt, really. And I always tuck my shirts in.
MT: Does kilt-wearing have any significance to you?
Tulppo: There’s no religious or family significance. I haven’t really given much thought to social significance. I would say that [wearing a kilt] expresses my individuality without fostering any social or political preconceptions. Most people’s idea of individuality is to find a subculture or clique and conform to that. I make an interesting impression without having to say a word because I can’t be pigeonholed as a certain stereotype.
MT: What do your friends and family say about your kilt-wearing?
Tulppo: Most of my friends can’t remember me without kilts. My parents are pretty conservative and thought, at first, that I was doing it for shock value. They’ve gotten used to it, though.
MT: What activities do you participate in while wearing a kilt?
Tulppo: I do everything but shower and sleep in a kilt.
MT: Tell us about your hunting experience.
Tulppo: I had been wearing kilts for over a year at the time. My friend and I had gone small-game hunting the previous weekend and I’d scratched the hell out of my shins pushing through the underbrush. I decided to put on a pair of jeans that day but after about five minutes it was unbearable. I took the jeans off and threw them in the closet. I assume they’re still lying where they landed.
MT: What else do you enjoy?
Tulppo: I’m also into shooting sports when I have time for them. I have a CZ 75 9 mm automatic pistol, which is made in the Czech Republic and is very popular among former Eastern-bloc military and police forces. It’s very tough and pretty accurate out to about 50 feet or so. I also have a Marlin .30-30 lever action rifle. I’ve had it for about three years but the design of the rifle hasn’t changed since it was first produced in the 1870s. A friend of mine gave me an old Sears and Roebuck 12-gauge pump shotgun for my birthday last year. I suspect that it might actually be a Remington Model 12 from the late ’50s or early ’60s, in which case it could be one of the best waterfowl hunting shotguns ever made in America. I’m a member of the Washtenaw County Sportsmen’s Club south of Ann Arbor. I’ve done a lot of pistol and rifle shooting out there and I plan on getting into skeet shooting this spring. I’m also thinking about getting into some of the shooting competitions this summer as well.
MT: What is the best part about wearing a kilt?
Tulppo: Comfort and freedom of movement, definitely.
MT: What is the worst part about wearing a kilt?
Tulppo: On windy days I spend a lot of time looking like the famous Marilyn Monroe bit with the steam grate.
MT: What is the best type of underwear to wear with a kilt?
Tulppo: What is this "underwear" you speak of?Joanna Galuszka is a Metro Times editorial intern. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org