Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ren Faire Follies

Heather and I made our now annual pilgrimage to King Richard's Faire yesterday. I was up at 4am. I didn't want to be up at 4am but, alas, awake I was. It didn't make me happy because I knew it was going to be a very long day and I was going to need my sleep.

Oh well.

Last year, when we went, it was a little wet. And by 'a little wet', I of course mean it was a frakking monsoon. It was raining so hard that by the time we actually got down to Carver, MA (a four hour drive, mind you), they had closed the faire. When they close the faire, they only take in the signs announcing that you have arrived in the right place so Heather and I spent a good amount of time driving up and down route 53 in Carver looking for the damn thing. We stopped when we talked to Joe who reported that the announcement that the faire had been closed was posted on their website.

Now that I have a smarter-than-me phone, we will not have that problem in the future.

But we didn't have that problem this year either because yesterday it was sunny, it was hot, it was over 80 degrees in the shade. Are you kidding me, people? I don't even know how to dress for a ren faire (because I don't go in costume) when it's sunny and 80 degrees in the shade. I've never been to the ren faire when it's been so nice and warm. I've been when it's nice and cool, classic New England weather and I've been when it's nice and wet (not monsoon weather but a nice steady mist) but never when it's hot. So for the first (and probably last) time, I went to the ren faire wearing shorts and a tank top.

We left early, around 7am, and had to stop at the ATM to get some cash. This is when some suicidal pigeon actually walked into my tire. This was followed by me driving over a curb (just a little one) and then a suicidal squirrel running right out in front of the car. And that was all before we'd even left town.

We got to Massachusetts without further incident (apart from the two large dogs who went screaming across the road) but got a little lost when we got off the highway an exit too early and ended up driving on some narrow back roads between the towns of Carver and Kingston, MA saying "I don't think this is where we meant to go..."

It wasn't.

We did find our way to the faire eventually though and found it easily as it was marked with big giant signs and a police officer whose sole purpose in life was to direct traffic in and out of the event.

We were greeted by singing and dancing and general frivolity and silliness. I looked at Heather and said, "Joe would be in hell. If he was here, he'd be going to sit and wait in the car right about now."

This is, of course, a moot point as Joe would never agree to ever go to any Ren Faire ever. Heather's beau, by the way, has been to the Ren Faire before. He went dressed as a robot. I find this to be the most awesome thing quite possibly ever.

Anyway, I have to say that the Ren Faire is always a little raunchy. Always. It's part of the fun. But this year, as you'll see as you proceed through the remainder of this blog, it was particularly bad this year. This was the PG-13 Ren Faire, home of the double entendre. The recurring theme repeated by many of the performers was (and I am dead serious), "if your kids get the joke, it's not our fault!"

That said, my mission at the faire was to find a matching pair of short swords. I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but I seriously love medieval weaponry. I have in my house a very nice selection of daggers and a couple of swords. One is a replica of the William Wallace sword (Braveheart). This sword I cannot, you know, lift. One is a much smaller sword that my brother and sister-in-law picked up for me so I would have one that I could swing around more safely. I have to say 'more safely' because well, because I have a track record of damages (all to inanimate objects, I swear!) when I have a sword in hand.

And now I want a matching pair of short swords. The reason behind this is...something I'll discuss in another blog. Because this blog is about the Ren Faire and the unexpected times we had there. We started off the day wandering and looking at all the weaponsmiths. I'm expecting the short swords to just speak to me. I'll see them and know they're the ones I want. I know this sounds weird and I tried not to bore Heather too much by it.

Eventually, we ended up wandering into the corset shop where we were immediately offered a measurement for a corset. We both said yes, what the hell. My number (your waist measurement minus a couple of inches) is 23. Then we were offered a deluge of corset information by a woman who reminded me of Estelle Getty in the movie Mannequin (remember that one?). She was wearing a corset that really showed off her...uh...assets, and even had some money rolled up and stuffed in there between the girls. It was one of those train wreck situations where you don't want to look but you just can't look away. She told us of all the places she wears her corset (and there were a lot of them) and how last season she sold corsets to a bunch of surgical nurses who then wore their corsets under their scrubs into surgery and how their backs didn't hurt. Now, I don't think this woman was lying and I'm all for things that make your back not hurt, but the idea of nurses wearing corsets into surgery is well, it's funny.

Heather and I browsed the corset selection and repeatedly turned down Estelle's offers to tie us into a corset and left without rearranging our internal organs mostly because the corsets were a minimum of $150 and if I was going to spend that much money at the ren faire, it would be on weaponry and not on a corset that I don't have the chutzpah to wear.

We found our way to one of the many shows offered during the course of the faire. This one was a man who called himself Jacques Ze Whipper (he doesn't seem to have a website but he is on Facebook...look him up!). He does an act with whips, like a medieval French Indiana Jones (he's from Boston, by the way). This one was pretty family friendly and highly entertaining. We spent a lot of time watching him use a whip to break spaghetti into little teeny tiny pieces and yelling "oui, oui!"

After Jacques Ze Whipper, we went over to the leathergoods shop right next door. As we walked over, we were talking about weaponry (yes, again) and whether it was weird that I was being so damn picky about my matching pair of short swords (we agreed not.). Hanging right outside the shop was a very skimpy leather outfit. I pointed it out to Heather and said, "Well, if I came home wearing that, Joe wouldn't notice how much weaponry I bought."

"You should try it on," the store's greeter said, looking and sounding all too entirely eager to help me into it.

"No thanks, I'm good," I said and we pressed further into the store.

On the back wall were a number of halter top/corset looking things and it was while we were checking them out that we were approached (and when I say 'approached', I more mean 'accosted') by one of the saleswomen. The following exchange happened:

"You have awesome boobs," the saleswoman said to me.

Excuse me?

I looked around to see if the woman was talking to someone else. She wasn't. I invariably looked down at my chest afterward, to see if they had somehow changed from what they had been that morning. They hadn't. I looked at the girl, confused.

"I'm going to dress you in this," the girl announced, selecting a blue halter corset contraption from the wall.


"No, you're not," I said. "But thank you. I think."

Then we had a "Yes, I am", "No, you're not" conversation where the girl tried really, really hard to get me to say yes to letting her lace me up in whatever the hell she was holding. The second time that day that a woman begged me to let her tie me into something.

Strangest. Ren. Faire. Ever. And it wasn't even noon yet.

"It'll only take three seconds!" she exclaimed.

"I'll pass," I said. "But thanks. I think."

So the girl then turned to Heather. "How about you?"

Heather was more game than I and so she said yes. The girl dressed Heather in purple halter corset. It took longer than three seconds. When the girl looked at me, in obvious disgust for my lack of good sportsmanship, and said, "You would've taken three seconds", Heather responded with "What are you trying to say?"

But wait. It gets better.

So, the girl finishes lacing Heather into the halter corset thing and then comes back to face Heather and instructs her to do a little adjusting. Heather did so but she apparently didn't do enough because then the girl took it upon her self to undo the buttons on Heather's blouse and reached right in to Heather's camisole to do the adjustments herself. Heather and I exchanged looks of surprise because Heather and I were somewhat stunned, Heather even more so than I.

"Don't you usually get dinner first?" I asked.

So just as soon as Heather was freed from the purple leather halter torture device, we took off. I sent Joe a text to let him know that I have awesome breasts (he maintains that's what he's been trying to tell me the whole time) and Heather sent her beau a text to let him know that the corset lady got to second base with her (his response was: " We looked at more swords and watched a juggling duo known Juggle This. They were pretty funny. Very sarcastic and I always do appreciate good sarcasm. My favorite was probably when the next stage over started playing a Lady Gaga song and one of them stopped, put a hand on his hip and looked at the stage saying, "Lady Gaga at the ren faire? Really?"

So it would seem.

We went and watched the King's tournament and cheered for the black knight who rode around the ring muttering things like, "I hate these stupid games!" I do so love a malcontent.

After lunch, we watched a couple of other shows, including Jacques Ze Whipper again (this time teamed up with the master of torture who not only drove a nail up his nose (yes, really) but also ate fire and then breathed fire.), and then ended our day with The Mud Show.

The whip and torture show was listed as a PG-13 show and was so announced at the start of the show so any concerned parents could remove their tiny innocent children (and a couple did so). There was no such announcement at the Mud Show. And there should have been. There really should have been although I also would not have argued if they rated this show R because it was that raunchy. The Mud Show was dirty in every sense of the word.

Now, Heather and I are not prudish or anything but we did not enjoy this show. In fact, just as soon as the people sitting on the benches surrounding us (and trapping us) stopped surrounding us, we left.

We had more important things to do because now that we were through with the ren faire, we were on our way to Boston and Mike's Pastry. I've blogged about Mike's Pastry before so I don't need to do so again but it's totally worth the somewhat out of the way trip we had to take to get there. And, truth be told, it was only so out of the way because Heather and I missed the exit that would lead us to I-95 and the MBTA station for which we were looking and ended up instead on I-93.

We figured it out. Eventually. And then we figured out where we were supposed to be. Eventually.

The point is we still came home with a big box of pastries (Heather got cannolis, I bought cookies and brownies), enjoyed dinner at Quincy Market and got to eavesdrop on what was possibly the funniest monologue in recent memory on our way back to the car. I won't write it all for you mostly because it's getting later in the day and I still have to read the last three hundred pages of The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest (booooooorrrrrriiiiinnnnngggg, by the way) before tomorrow when it's due back at the library. The moral of the girl's subway monologue is that we're all basically bisexual. Her evidence? Girls check out other girls all the time.

This stuck me as even funnier when one considered I'd spent most of the day walking around the ren faire surrounded by women who had put their whatnots on display for the world to see. Whether or not they should have. And, I have to say, for the most part, they shouldn't have.

Because not everyone has such an awesome rack as me. Apparently the corset girl should spend some more time checking out other women because then she would know just how very wrong she was.


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