Posted by: LucidMystery | February 18, 2008

And a one-two-three and a twirly, twirly, twirly

        A few evenings ago, Brandon and I were watching a Triumph the Insult Dog clip on his computer about the Star Wars crazies who go all out for movie premiers and conventions. I have to say, I haven’t been so highly entertained since the time I smashed a plate full of cake in a guy’s face. Triumph was playing on every aspect of nerd-dom, and I couldn’t stop laughing! Part of what made the segment so amusing, though, was the fact that so much of what he said applied to me. You see, I actually have gone to midnight showing of movies, dressed as geekily as possible, and the Star Wars movies are no exception (I believe I only wore a cloak for those, though.) My true geeky pleasure though, has nothing to do with cinema. A true gathering of diehard nerds, I make no excuses for myself when I admit that by carrying on this tradition, I am fueling on the refusal of many (including myself) to accept a mundane world of shopping malls, jeans and hoodies, and…ooohhh…reality. Let me tell you all about the truth of my craziness 🙂

        “Good day, my lady,” a courtier clad in leather and blue velvet swept me a bow, with his feather-plumed hat in hand.

        “Good day, kind sir,” I replied and curtsied, my layers of floor-length skirts slightly waving in the breeze. With one hand on the sword belted to his waist and the other hand swinging as he walked, the courtier continued on his way down the dirt path towards the jousting lists where a match was about to begin. I straightened my skirts, tried to take a deep breath (because of my corset) and meandered along with my friends towards one of the dress shops where rainbows of lace, muslin, and velvet skirts and bodices exploded from the windows.

        What’s this, you say? Is not this piece supposed to be truth? Why it is! I may have been walking down a path where pirates, knights, peasants, wizards, and the random Jedi trod alongside me, but I was certainly living the experience, and I did not go back in time. I was at the Renaissance Festival!

        The Renaissance Festival (Ren Fest for short) is one of the most eclectic annual fairs in Ohio. The site for it is always the same—an entire, permanent old English village built up for the sole purpose of hosting Ren Fest for six weekends every year. In this village there are Viking huts, wand makers, medieval clothing stores, a human chess board, glass blowers, exquisuite jewelry shops, an arena for jousting tournaments, “ye olde pubs,” sword makers, paper makers—just an amazing assortment of attractions. Where else can you see a stand where the entire point is to smash a tomato in someone’s face and right next to is a dragon! (Well, the dragon is a giant swing for children, so it is a bit toned down in appearance from a “real” dragon.) The actual historical truths meshed into the festival are a bit dodgy considering “Queen Elizabeth” (the same woman every year) may walk down a path lined with stores that sell wares not invented or styled until a hundred years after he death, but the exciting atmosphere is unequivocal!

        Just to clarify the reputations of those who love these kinds of gatherings, an old episode of “Dharma and Greg” featured Dharma’s attendance to something like a Ren Fest. In this episode, Dharma described the regular frequenters of Ren Fests to be unsocialized video game freaks who never left their basements but once a year—and that was for a Renaissance Festival. I will not completely squelch this idea, because it has some merit. I personally am a “fantasy freak” and commonly imagine myself as one of the elves of Loth Lorien or Mirkwood, or better yet, a gypsy warrior princess! Of course, I don’t completely live in my imaginary world, but I certainly enjoy the charade once a year!

        At a Renaissance Festival, persons such as myself are the majority, and to completely immerse myself in this surreal world, one must look the part. My personal costume wardrobe, besides the fun little accessories, includes a black and purple corset; a crimson velour cloak with a golden clasp; a gypsy skirt made of literally hundreds of brightly colored patches sewn together; a white, lacy chemise; a navy blue bodice dress; and a golden elvish tiara—all of which can be worn interchangeably. When I go with a large group of friends, we all look as though someone slightly tampered with a time machine and voila! We appeared. Of course, at the Ren Fest, you will see the random weirdos who have the audacity to attend this event without costume; but the rest of us just try to be as friendly and polite as possible and hope that one day, these poor unfortunate souls will see the error of their ways.

        Shameful as it is to admit, though. My first year of attending Ren Fest, I did not wear a costume. I can hear the disappointed groans of English royalty and belly-dancing gypsies as I speak, but I have to let the truth be known. In my defense, I was young, inexperienced, and knew not the ways of the proper world…I wore jeans and hooded  zip sweater. However, within half an hour, I realized my mistake, and have never made it since.

        Of course, when attaching one’s self to such a labeling hobby, there are usually slight consequences. While some people might enjoy stamp collecting or piano playing, my passion for getting dressed up into clothes that restrict breathing and driving and hour and a half to hang out in an antiquated-style village and pay too much for a bread bowl of beef stew and a Coke while mingling with wannabe Hobbits from Lord of the Rings can sound somewhat unusual to some folks. Such can be proven by a conversation I had with one of my old co-workers, Joe.

        “So you’ve never gone?” I asked him, shocked to hear that he had never even given Ren Fest a fair try.

        “No, I try not hang out with all the freaks who dress up for no reason…” At this his voice trailed a bit and a slightly worried look crossed his face. “Oops. Do you dress up?”

        I grinned and nodded enthusiastically.

        “Really. Um, I mean, people who dress up…are…cool. Uh…hey guys,” he turned to everyone else in the room. “I just inadvertently called Maria and the people with whom she associates freaks.”

        Really though, friendly mockery and all, I cannot imagine life without the yearly trek to Harveysburg, Ohio to attend the Renaissance Festival! Every year I can’t wait to see the hair braiding lady under her green iron-wrought trellis with pink drapes and flowers handing down the sides; the jolly, old Viking man who reminds me of a brown-haired Santa Claus wearing a helmet with horns on either side; or the henna tattoo artists who usually act like they’ve inhaled a little too much of the incense swirling through their tent. Each visit adds that many more pictures to my photo album and memories to my diary. It’s an intact little world of magic, chivalry, and dress-up fun! When every year, a random person sweeps me a bow with a “Good day, fair maiden” or “Pardon me, m’lady,” what’s not to love?

btw, anyone recognize the title of this post?

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