It's been about five years since I posted this piece, but since it's Monday, and my view point towards this day fall along party lines of a certain Lasagna eating Cat, I'm just going to be a lazy ass and post this. Besides, it's pertinent given that I know one friend who did go to the Ren Faire this past weekend. So I updated it a little and felt lazy so didn't write a whole new blog. Enjoy
For those of you who are like me, living a sad, trivial existence revolving around what sort of Hot Pocket you will be consuming on a particular evening and watching reruns of House while organizing my comic collection - The Renaissance festival is the most exciting event of the entire year. Well, besides comic con, of course. It's a melting of history and fantasy enthusiasts all coming together from and crawling out from their black lighted basements to partake in the merry festivities where the air is filled with laughter, the smell of dung, and the ring of cash registers. Many of those dressing up see the festival as an outlet to express themselves through frilly clothing and horrible British accents. You have to remember that while there are those who go to Ren Faires in normal modern street clothes, such as myself, these places swarm with people who dress in full Renaissance regalia and whose primary concern while within the confines of the faire is to purchase more accessories for their Renaissance regalia.
The large motley rabbles of pseudo-historical exhibitionists freely roam the grounds of the fair, losing themselves in the atmosphere of wonder and awe. Indeed most of the festival-goers are fairly ignorant of any real history of the age, and as such think that 14th century England was a cheerful wonderland of dancing and dwarf tossing. There's no mention of war, diseases, poverty, and death. Yes, it was a great time for all, even with the infant mortality rate at a healthy 50%, and goblins eating all the May Day pudding. You could walk down the street and be sassed from all directions for not spending money on games like "throw the piglet in the bucket", or watching a knight in his shiny armor seductively eating a corn dog the size of a turkey leg before the big joust. But there are many other highlights to the Renaissance as well that are located directly under this paragraph you are currently reading. Use your mystical modern day scroll button, you idiot.
Nothing is better for getting into the spirit of the Renaissance festival than looking for a parking space for 2 hours and then wading through a sea of blubbery wenches, 90lb nerds in studded leather, and baby carriages filled with bawling feather-capped snotlings just to get to the ticket booth. By the time I actually get inside the festival, I'm ready to go home and hide from the brutal reality of stupid, fat hobbits, Last year I couldn't find a parking spot on the roped off, never-ending grassy field of cars, so I was forced to park near some apartment building with a bunch of other angry folks. Those angry folks being the apartment tenants who had to deal with a Ren-faire set up next door. After I was all blustery and sweaty from the day's events. I returned to my car with my arms full of useless tickets only to find that I was taken away by Ye Olde Tow Shoppe, and I was totally screwed, along with all the other fools that shared my fate. In the Renaissance days, stealing a man's horse would warrant a trip to the King's gallows, and the victim was even given a complementary hen for their troubles, but now you have to pick up your car for an outrageous fee and then give a hand job to the tow truck owner because you spent all your money at the festival. They call this progress? Also, I think every obese person should be issued a Rascal scooter by the U.S. government to keep a steady flow of Pedestrian traffic.
If you plan to fully enjoy the Renaissance festival experience, I recommend that you mortgage your house and sell your plasma for at least 6 months so you'll have the necessary funds for your enjoyment. This includes parking, price of admission, food, drinks, and the multitude of homemade crafts that are marked up 300% because they're made by authentic nerds in a tent. Something funny happens to you once you get to the festival and see all the crap that's for sale, and that 6th ale starts kicking in. I saw a ratty leather coat today that might have gone for a hundred to a hundred fifty bucks at a novelty clothing store. At the faire, it was priced at nine hundred dollars. Nine hundred dollars.
I've been on this planet for a little more than thirty years, and I have never spent nine hundred dollars on any single purchase ever. I should make it clear that I have been in possession of no less than four cars in that time, and I can still say I've never spent nine hundred dollars on anything. Use that to give you some perspective. Nonetheless, there are hordes of people who shell out their life savings to buy incredibly expensive clothing that they only wear to go to other Ren faires for the sole purpose of buying more incredibly expensive clothing. Clearly, this is not an environment inhabited by people with all their cylinders firing properly. It's no wonder that most of the common citizens of this age were crippled with poverty when a mere sausage costs $3 and a public flogging costs $5. I need to get a piece of this action and learn how to make wooden mugs or some shit.
The one thing that is most abundant at a Renaissance festival is unbridled sass. If there is a history lesson to be learned here is that everybody back must have teased each other mercilessly, probably because there was no TV yet or something. Every hired drama student/sandwich artist that works at the festival belts out personal insults at the passerby so they feel like they are really living in the Renaissance. I know if I spend $25 to get in, I expect a thorough sassing and will demand a refund unless I get called a "scrawny rapscallion" at least 5 times during the course of the day. Words were harsher in those times, and it toughened your hide so you could withstand arrows and vampire bites. Feelings are for 21st century wimps.
Step 1: Buy soup served in bowl made entirely out of bread.
Step 2: Consume soup.
Step 3. Are you ready for this? EAT THE FUCKING BOWL!
The bread bowl is the greatest invention known to man and the cornerstone of civilization. If I could find a local bakery that made bread bowls, I would never have to do dishes again. This is right up there with the giant turkey leg. No mess to clean up later. Well, besides the mess that is left on your clothing. Now if only they made some sort of chewable beer stein you could consume after drinking your ale. Trust me, glass does not go down easy.
One would assume that any historical accurate festival like this that shows the youth how it was to live without their PSwii: 360 would pull in some real sponsors. Not for this Ren-fair. You only need thank Blizzard Entertainment for bringing you the ren-fair this year. If you weren't aware they are the makers of World Of Warcraft which is a Mass Multiplayer Online Game. I don't know about you, but when I think about outdoor events and socializing with strangers, I think about WoW. I may not recall my high school history that well and I'm sure I was trying to think of a way to ask Marisol out on a date while they taught us this. But it seems that during the time period, the king was known for passing out free demo cd-roms for their game about Elves and Orcs.
Many think the highlight of the festival is the knights reenacting the most chivalrous sport of the era: jousting. Freud once said that "jousting is a metaphor for men that suffer from extreme penis envy, and have an innate desire to knock other men off horses with their penises." I don't know if I agree, but one thing is for sure, the fake jousting at the festival is really boring. I have a feeling that these guys don't have insurance, and are extremely overcautious when jousting. If you were an insurance company would you have a knight policy to cover these guys whose job is getting knocked off a horse with a large stick all day? So it always ends up with the two knights coming about five feet from each other and then running away. Watching my nephew play the Nintendo game Joust is more exciting than watching a couple clowns on horses just pass each other for an hour.
There are those who just go to enjoy the humorous accents and lively performances, but choose to stay firmly rooted in their own time period. These people can be distinguished by their T-shirts, blue jeans, cellular telephones, and vaguely detached smirks. They tend to make up a good portion of the crowd and are often seen as easy targets for performers looking to score some cheap laughs.
Ren faires are typically bright, happy affairs. However, the Renaissance goths know that the Renaissance was only a time of joy and prosperity for a privileged few. The lower classes lived in squalor and servitude, fighting for survival against a constant onslaught of famine, cruelty, and plague. It was a black time for all, and dammit, somebody has to represent the truth! That's why the Renaissance goths will dress in only the blackest of medieval clothing, including capes made out of a cut up pleather trench-coat and genuine sixteenth century boots from Hot Topic. The Renaissance goths will generally find one another and brood together upon the bleakness of life somewhere near the food court, while the rest of the people enjoy the experience that twenty-five bucks for.
The hardcore Ren faire patrons are the ones dressed better than the paid professional Renaissance actors. They've spent the last fifteen years perfecting the ultimate costume - the right tunic, the right chain mail, the right bracers, the right boots, the right headgear, the right crest, the right sword, the right plastic elf ears. Over the years, their obsession unites them, creating couples who then start coming in matched outfits. IF and when they manage to successfully spawn offspring, they will bring them along and dress them up as well. Beware of toddlers running around in authentic Renaissance outfits that cost more than your entire wardrobe.
I think that it may be precisely that reason that people who would not normally go anyplace public feel that the Ren faire is the perfect place to go. They figure, nobody there has any concept of what is normal and sensible to functional society, so who are they to judge how strange I am? That is why your average Ren faire attracts the most bizarre people on Earth. First you've got the ones who are just physically weird. These events call out the most oddly proportioned people you will ever see in one place in your life, with the possible exception of the Republican National Convention (see that? I'm lazy and topical!).
Sure, there are your typical skinny guys and fat people, but only at a Ren faire can you see a nine foot tall woman in a bustier with breasts that register on the radar of overhead aircraft. Due to the peculiar nature of the clothing worn by so many Renaissance enthusiasts, every ounce of fat on many of these people is squeezed into one section of their bodies, creating all sorts of strange, undulated bulges. And as a rule, we're talking about a good number of fat people here. Let's put it this way, I saw two separate women who were so morbidly obese that they couldn't move without the aid of ye olde electric wheelchairs. On an average day, I don't see any people who are too fat to sustain their own locomotion. Today I saw two. And one of them was wearing a corset, although I'm not sure if you can really call it a corset at that point. Your typical corset contracts the wearer's waist, forcing the chestral region upwards and outwards, creating the appearance of a large and heaving bosom. This particular garment wasn't contracting shit, and if it was, I can only assume that without the corset, this woman would have been so large that the light currently emanating from your computer screen would be sucked into her gravitational field.
Some of you may be asking "Hey Javi, why do you go to this event every year if you hate it so much? You are a stupid faggot." Well that is a valid point. I must admit that I have the memory of a goldfish and always buy a ticket without remembering what a horrible time I had the year before. Also, I can't stand to have money and will automatically spend all my hard earned savings on any shiny bauble or trinket that happens to strike my fancy. Like I said, all I have in life is watching Hiro save the cheerleader and likewise the world with his confident Japanese spunk and that ended earlier this week! The festival is all I have left, and nobody can take it from me.