Sometimes answering the question “What are you doing this weekend?” is a tricky thing. What I do when I crawl out of my corporate foxhole, (I mean cubicle) is fulfill the Charter of Me, to manifest my will in all ways within the boundaries of the law and physics, to bloom from bonsai to sequoia, to savor the sweetness that comes only from being the boss of the applesauce of one’s day. So when I’m asked “What are you doing this weekend?” it’s pretty much tantamount to answering the question “Who are you, really?” While I’m certain I’m not the only one planning on being her own damn self, I’m just not capable of revelations that seem to be expected of me, like “I’m someone who attends local sporting events and endorses the comeback efforts of one Jon Bon Jovi” or “I’m a small but vital component in the economic survival of such retail chains as American Eagle Outfitters and massive capitalist empires as Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises!” I learned quickly that if you’re not buying something or wearing a Cubs hat this weekend, you are considered hostile opposition to those who do.
So when I said I was going to the Renaissance Faire this weekend, I said I was taking Mabel to the Renaissance Faire. This means the answer to the question “Who are you, really?” is “I’m a fun mom!” instead of “I’m a complete dork-tard.” The truth is more like a combination of both, but I like to keep it simple for my Bon Jovian colleagues.
The Renaissance Faire gets a bad rap for being an alleged bastion of dorkdom. I have no such qualms. In fact, I heartily endorse the world of fantasy. Maybe I’ve been paying too much attention, but reality is pretty fucking painful. I sort of envy the lords a leaping and ladies dancing around me at the Faire and secretly wish someone would build a fantasy playground especially for me, somewhere I can at last participate in the Stevie Nicks/PFunk Intergalactic Croquet Tournament, or supervise the efforts of key members of both the capitalist elite and Christian right as they expunge all the oil from the Gulf of Mexico (one dropper at a time) or simply stand up next to a mountain and chop it down with the edge of my hand. Were it so easy that my escape from banal and brutal reality could be facilitated with a few “methinks” and a corset, I’d be more than a casual observer at the Faire.
The following are the highlights of our visit to ye olde Faire in typical Gaytheist bullet list format:
- On the way to the Faire, I snapped this pic of a kickass muscle car tribute to The Incredible Hulk. I also heartily endorse The Incredible Hulk as he is a celebrity citizen in the world of fantasy. He fulfills the desire many of us have to SMASH or at least completely ignore the rules of English grammar. I wonder if the owner of this car also gets a bad rap for also being an alleged denizen of dorkdom.
It’s obvious a lot of effort goes into bringing the Elizabethan era alive, particularly by the “citizens” of Bristol, a tribe of expensively plumed extroverts with booming voices and a prrrrropensity for the alveolarrrrr trrrrill of the \r\. And it did take me back to the past: the winter of 1986, to be exact, when I once found myself trapped in a bus full of members of the Drama Club.
- I may not go in for boat-sized dresses or adorable tiny hats or death by ruffles, but I am a stickler for historical accuracy when it comes to snacks. Therefore, I tut-tut the pizza and the Miller Light bottles and head straight for the turkey legs. The turkey leg is the unofficial scepter of King Henry the Eighth and therefore a talisman of olde-tyme misogyny. I’m not the only one who sees it that way. I once saw a guy brandish a turkey leg at a clearly horrified woman at the Taste of Chicago, so the spirit of the Royal Ladykiller lives on wherever turkey legs are sold. Last time I was at the Faire (Yes, there was a last time. And a time before that. Deal with it.) I decided to avenge the headless sisterhood of Anne Boleyn by consuming that hateful (yet delicious) symbol. Unfortunately, I had eaten a good sized breakfast that morning and summarily suffered a particularly humiliating defeat. This year, I won. In your face, Fatso the Eighth!
- Mabel loves horses, so we took her to see the Dance of the Stallion show starring Lady Laura and her Andalusian stallion Assierto. What began innocently enough as standard-issue dressage ended with an unsettling obedience-tango between Assierto, (unceremoniously stripped of all tack right in front of the entire audience) and Lady Laura, armed with only a whip and a come-hither finger. I hope to the highest heavens that no daughter of mine ever loves horses *that* much.
- I love the old dudes at the Faire. Their twinkling eyes and wild, braided white beards evoke an alternate universe Father Christmas who prefers special brownies and Red Stripe to cookies and milk. They also give me hope that old age doesn’t necessarily mean the bone-chilling onset of conservativism and fear. Rock on, Psychedelic Santas!
- Lots of lesbians at the Faire. Not sure why. I intend to ask the mirror about that sometime.
- I studiously avoid the shops at the Faire because these vendors very plainly have my commercial/demographic number. A typical visit to one of these quaint, wood-shingled shops usually goes something like this: Me: Handmade artisan whatnots crafted of timeless, painstaking expertise? And I can hang whatever the hell this is off my belt? But I don’t have a belt! Oh, you sell those, too? Kate: How about a time machine? You’ll need one of those, too, for that damn thing to be anything other than a cool-ass implement of total uselessness. So I thought I’d play it safe by steering clear of places that sold belts. The wind chime purveyor Music of the Spheres seemed a safe enough harbor. As a general rule, I am not all that into wind chimes. But I did not anticipate the mind-blowing sonic power of the Contrabass Wind Chime. Comprised of 6 black metal tubes ranging in size from 4-6 feet, the CWC delivers a random sampling of Quartal scale notes downtuned to near-death metal proportions. Once initiated, those notes have a swelling, almost dread-inspiring sustain that grows from a tadpole to a killer whale that swallows whole all conscious thought. Full disclosure: I’m pretty susceptible to bizarre phenomena ranging from stock-still motion sickness, déjà vu, panic attacks, and garden variety heebee geebies. Therefore I took up a spot near the CWC and observed its effect on presumably sturdier folk. Passersby who plucked its pendulum ended up standing there, motionless, completely mesmerized by the power of its all-consuming freakiness. So it’s real, dude!
- We attended the jousting tournament and were not surprised to be seated in the cheering section for the designated bad guy, right up against the Sweatiest European Woman In Attendance. This always seems to happen.
- Our social standing improved considerably with the purchase of a pink, ribbon-festooned cone hat for Mabel. Everywhere we went, we were greeted with booming cries of “Prrrrrincess!!!!” accompanied by deep bows and complicated curtsies. Mabel regarded all of these displays with a stoney-faced stare that communicated the clear and unmistakable message “what the hell is wrong with you, dipshit?” After a while, I started pretending these ruffly thespians were addressing me, just to save us all a little embarrassment.
Tags: Renaissance Faire