When I told my coworker I was going to the Rennaissance Faire, she said “That sounds like fun for you!”
For you… as in not for me. Not for me, and not in a million years, you pathetic dork-tard. While you’re clanking around in chainmail or whatever, I’m going to do something normal, like get my roots re-frosted and go to the Cubs game with my soon-to-be third husband.
It’s good to see that despite the changes I’ve seen in the five years since my last pilgrimage to where the bustier and codpiece reign supreme, at least one thing hasn’t changed. The chasm between me and the suburban them doesn’t just yawn. It yodels.
Coworker is singular now. I no longer report to the hive in Cubicle America. I work from home these days, for a fledgling element of the same company that is so new, I only have the one coworker. The two of us communicate via IM, which doesn’t dispel any loneliness I might feel as much as it makes me feel foolish for feeling it in the first place. I am finally fulfilling my lone wolf destiny. I sometimes forget to change out of my pajamas. I shower once a week, and that’s only after the children complain about the smell.
The children. Holding steady at the two daughters: Mabel and Lu. Mabel has grown up to be a Common Core math whiz, Katy Perry fan (wince), and enthusiast of the well-timed sarcastic comeback. And Lu? It’s still a little hard to tell who she’ll become at this point, but we do know she is fond of the word MINE in all caps, and the song stylings of one “Dave” Bowie. The girls adore one another in every way. They adore singing and dancing together as much as they adore slamming the door in each other’s faces. This is parenthood on an entirely new level—the bouncer/Judge Wapner level. The guitar and sassy little red hen hand puppet from my fun mom days have been relegated to silent jurists in the corner as I keep the motherfucking peace in the goddamn house.
I’ve changed, too, in the past five years, or rather, I’ve become someone I didn’t realize I’d harbored within me all along. I’ve summoned up a surprising reserve of parental badassery that I’ve apparently inherited from my dad’s sister Betty. An easy-going master of the wisecrack who could at any moment transform into a fiery Valkyrie of pure rage and clenched teeth and tangled mane, Aunt Betty terrified me even more than my dad, who was most certainly no slouch himself. When I roar “GO TO SLEEP!”, I can feel Aunt Betty’s blood-curdling battle cry “YINS KIDS!” resonating in my very marrow. And I even scare myself. Another destiny fulfilled.
But I had these children not to rain vengeful justice down upon them, but rather, enjoy them, and help them enjoy life’s possibilities. Hence, a return to the mecca of the Fun Mom—the Renaissance Faire. Gaytheist bullet points shall now ensue:
- Mabel doesn’t remember much from her last trip to the Ren Faire, but the experience did leave an indelible fashion imprint in her mind. After outfitting both Lu and herself with the requisite tutus, she asked me as I sipped my coffee, resplendent in my aromatic work from home wolf fineries, “What are you planning to wear?” After affecting a long, contemplative pause, I answered, “I’m thinking of going with clothes.” Her response– a snort of amusement mingling with a mild undertone of approval—is as close to a high five as I’m going to get from this kid.
- The clothes I ended up going with: a tie-dye tank top with bell bottoms. I decided that my personal journey back in time would be tripped up somewhere in the vicinity of the Summer Of Love. I topped it off with an eight mile high ponytail from the I Dream Of Genie Book of Styles.
This look is not for everybody. When your hair is especially long and greying at the temples like mine, your hair ends up falling around your shoulders, and broadcasts your Bride Of Frankenstein streaks to the world. It’s a hairdo that is both up and down, young and old. But I take no credit for it, as I stole it from my buddy Meister, the high priestess of unapologetic contradiction herself.
- The Rennaissance Faire remains the #1 weekend destination for Chicagoland’s lesbian community. This time, we happened to be parked right next to a young couple with their Rachel Maddow hornrims and saggy jeans. We traded chin-juts of solidarity as we unloaded our cars and made our way across the gently rolling meadow leading to the witch-hatted Bavarian fortress containing our escape from squaredom.
- It used to be that the Ren Faire was basically a bubble of Shakespearian-era whimsy: lords and ladies, thee’s and thou’s, armor and lace abounds. Those days have been relegated to the past as dead and gone as the one it attempted to emulate in the first place. Now it’s a holding tank for every flight of fancy taxiing over O’Hare today, an Elizabethan UN festooned with freak flags of every stripe. I saw a woman in a full-body cheetah suit, a set of cat ears perched atop her perm, an actual set of cheetah print tattoos prowling her fully exposed lower back. I saw a Japanese Elvis impersonator. I saw an elderly woman in full Jack Sparrow drag. I saw what I’m guessing was a man, dressed up in an indeterminate mound of swamp-green paper mache’ with inexplicable protrusions in odd directions. I saw more belly dancers than I could shake a tambourine at, many of whom were adorably more belly than dancers. Most remarkably, I saw some suburban alpha males pretending they were somehow better than everything and everyone there.
- No turkey legs for me this year. I’m getting too old to prove anything to anyone anymore. Fuck that shit, man. It’s strictly brats-n-kraut for me.
- Kate quietly bought me a gift at one of the Hogwartsian boutiques, a reminder that under all the noise of our new lives, and all the conversations we’re too tired to have, and the wars we wage day in and day out against ourselves and each other and the world at large, it all started with us, and it will end that way as well. That she placed it on top of my lone wolf work station makes it all the more meaningful.
- We watched in amazement as Lu caught the spirit of the Faire like the tail of a glorious kite, and sailed away. She learned how to curtsey, and did so frequently. She chatted at length with a lady in waiting. She hollered “GO GREEN” for the emerald-clad knight assigned to our cheering section at the joust. And most significantly, she was crowned the Grand Dame of Fairy Glen. Now, this is really is something because Mabel was TERRIFIED of Fairy Glen when she was Lu’s age. Her fear of what she called “[pre]tend people”–clowns, mimes, and mascots—was so all-consuming, we just hustled her past that enclave of Froud Faery freakishness. But Lu is a fearless embracer of make-believe. She was baptized with a pinch of fairy dust by a ram-horned fauna sprite with multiple facial piercings that I’m calling Portable Portland. She built a twig fortress with a tree fairy I’m calling Ch-Ch-Chia. Her nose was given a playful “one of us” poke by a flora fairy I’m calling Bouquet. And she was sent on her way with a string bracelet courtesy of the most terrifying one of all, a grey spider spirit I call Arachnaphobia. As two refugees of a barely-averted confrontation with Ronald McDonald at a recent McD’s grand opening, Mabel and I could only witness this commune in anxiety-tainted wonder.
- Orange Is The New The End.