Monday, September 17, 2007

Lady Visa and Master Card

This past Saturday, I attended a Renaissance Festival, also shortened to Renfest, as friends have informed me that the abbreviation makes it sound "less like losers go there", traditionally after asking whether I "dress up"with a look on their face that makes it clear that all future relations hinge upon my answer (a resounding "hell no"). Though I assure them that the Renfest is still populated entirely with Hot Topic employees and street magicians, regardless of what it's called, I still face a certain amount of derision for my yearly pilgrimage to the middle of the woods. While once I felt the need to justify my choice to attend (along with my friend Jess), after five years, I now have no need to explain my actions with mumbled excuses about spending time outdoors and historical education. The truth is, I love me some fried food. I love me some daytime drinking. And I love, nay, cherish, me the opportunity to make fun of those that deserve it, and if the act of donning a chain mail poncho and leather epaulettes in the middle of the summer doesn't represent a tacit compliance to act as a target for ridicule, then I can no longer trust my understanding of the world.

Being secure in the knowledge that I am very much the exception to the attendance rule for these sorts of events, having had sex with a member of the opposite sex before, and also being extremely drunk, it's a fun afternoon spent gaining perspective on one's position in the social strata; also, they let you play with axes. Jess and I have a nice little routine going in which we agree to abandon all social and moral norms at the gate, so that we might explore our mockery a little more openly and with our mouths full, which has allowed us to discover that the humor that comes from adding "Ye Olde" to every destination or action surprisingly does not diminish with repetition (this year's winner was when we incurred Ye Olde Transaction Fees at thee ATM), though I suspect booze might play into this.

This is the medieval version of the old mallet-and-bell contraption, frequently found on boardwalks and in 1960s high school fairs. Odd to think that when they were first crafting these back in the 11th century, so that men might prove their strength and virility to the maidens they would be raping later, people weren't even aware that gravity existed; then again, they also believed phlegm to be vital to life, so I guess Newtonian physics might have been a few years off still.

The wench that ran this particular game definitely had a dominant air about her--it might have been the whip--and was positively raking in the cash from Bridge and Tunnel types looking to achieve the rank of "Dragonslayer" (the lowest end of the spectrum, I believe, was just "female"). One the far left, there's even a kiddie version of the game, so you can teach your sons about naked male insecurity at a young age. Jess and I really started to make some headway on our quest to find out what really goes on behind the scenes at the Renfest, and after we got into a drinking contest with the man running the throwing star booth and flashed a little wrist--the land of the blind here, people--at the man running the bear cage, we were invited to the Queen's Ball later that evening. Though unable to attend due to lack of bustle and the sort of mental steeling that would be required to get through such an event (we felt as though they'd be able to smell the normal on us from a mile away and were a bit afraid of what happens when a RenGeek turns feral), we made a resolution to infiltrate next year.

This is Orm, a Viking just back from raiding the Baltic states. Though he promised me the world--and I believed him, I really did--and the chemistry was undeniable, alas, our love was not long for this Earth. I vowed to meet him at the Kissing Bridge at 5 PM, where we could seal our union under the eyes of God, but I got caught up at the ping-pong ball/fishbowl game, and we ended up as just two ships that pass in the night. It was all very An Affair to Remember.

Though I never saw his face, Orm did fair better than the man calling himself Casanova, who approached me with similar declarations of love and lust earlier in the day. Intrigued, but not willing to break my hard and fast rule never to sleep with anachronistic historical figures that I meet in the woods, I took a pass on romance. Renfests are interesting places in that a mainstream looking girl can do pretty well for herself, solely because she is an unknown quantity at these sorts of things. The girls at these things go pretty far over the top in that they will show you their genitals if you so much as make eye contact, and don't really make much of a secret about the fact that you can wake up the next morning with their fairy wings on your forest floor after only a couple of meads, so my theory is that even the highest-libidoed knights crave a little office-working, American Eagle-attired piece of ass now and then. Though not hideous, I do live in NYC, an aesthetically humbling city if there ever was one, but at the Renfest, I'm a solid 11, purely by dint of regular bathing and the fact that the odds of finding meat accidentally lodged in one of my crevices are slim to none.

Despite initial impressions, this man does not work for the festival. Don't get me wrong, this man should work for the festival- he's obviously put a couple centuries of time into crafting his appearance and, really, his very essence, however one does that, and that sort of devotion to a cause should be rewarded. But, as stated, he does not. He paid for a ticket right in front of me--the sight of this man holding American currency is more jarring than you'd think--and I saw him coming out of the port-a-potty. I'm entirely unsure of what sort of conversation could be happening here, but I'm guessing it involves directions to the Sherwood Forest Music Nook. I'd like to think that little girl is getting a big lesson in what happens when you make wrong choices in life.

This is sad picture of lost curly fries, scattered across the ground along Lockesly Lane. It reminded me of the utter despair that one felt as a child when the top fell off their ice cream cone, and caused me to picture the loss of innocence that occurred when some poor young boy, already destined to a life of persecution and mockery thanks to his penchant for fantasy role-play and garish silver jewelry shaped like ancient runes, let his curly-fry cone fumble through his fat little fingers, and he had his first brief moment of realization that maybe the world was not the ideal place he had believed it to be.

But perhaps I was reading too much into it.

The one thing that stands out about these things is the tremendous number of people employed by the festivals, and you can't help but get curious about the hierarchy of it all and the availability of the good jobs, or even what the good jobs are. It's hard enough being a liberal arts major in today's world, I can't imagine that the jousting market is all that bullish. The other thing that occurred to me is that for the acne-stricken teens of Tuxedo, NY, the Renfest is the new paper route, and every youth in the town has probably seen at least one summer of privy scrubbing. This was a particuarly forlorn youngster who had the misfortune of running the hot nut cart, which is awkward on so many levels; my middle school classmates could have gotten at least three semesters worth of jokes on "hot nuts" alone, without tossing the jester hat into the mix.

Ah, leather Rennathongs: Give your wench the yeast infection she deserves. Already well into my 6th drink at this point, when I saw these, I tried to picture whether I would be offended or honored if my skin was used to decorate someone's reproductive organs. I picture some sort of big noisy Cow Heaven in which they all just sit around talking about how they were disposed of; there's the big plebeian herds trading stories about various slaughtermills and cursing the Angus Third Pounder, there's the snotty Indian cows all high and mighty and shit, and then there's the one or two cows just sitting there unassumingly, til there's a slight lull in conversation, and one of busts out with "I'm a Rennathong", and everyone just goes silent and wide-eyed.

Also, ironically, they really just don't get Gary Larson's humor up there. Go figs.