A few months ago, I voluntarily went to a place I had never been to before. A place that, (from the stories I’d heard) was full of people whose minds were so warped that they could not differentiate between fantasy and reality. A place where people with severe mental disorders are allowed to run free amongst the normals. A place where you will feel fear, disgust, rage and horror. A place with no soap or water.
That’s right, I went to the Renaissance Festival.
Don’t get me wrong, I reaaaaaally had no desire to ever go to a “Ren Fest,” (as they call it.) I know they exist and I know people go to them, but going had never crossed my mind. The same thing goes for burlesque clubs, Cirque-du-Soliel shows, live studio audiences, jury duty, Hershey Park, golf tournaments and prison. The reason I went is the same reason any hetro, manly dude would go: to impress a chick. Ahhh, the things we do for the ladies. What man wouldn’t voluntarily cut off his arm with a pen knife, 127 Hours-style, if he were rewarded with some poontang afterward?
Because I had never been to a Ren Fest before, I didn’t really know what to expect. All I knew was that I was supposed to drink mead, gnaw on an obscenely huge turkey leg and occasionally yell out “Huzzah!” while watching jousting or something. I’d also heard that Ren Fests could be ridiculously wallet-gouging. Other than the expensiveness of this Medieval Wonderland* and my randomly yelling “Huzzah!” (though not while watching anybody joust, just at random times), I didn’t do any of that stuff. Instead I was introduced to sights that, once seen, can never be unseen.
It wasn’t just the random medieval folk wandering around and suddenly bursting into unsightly fits of street (muddy path?) theater that were jarring, (though they were sometimes hilarious, just as long as they didn’t try to involve me in their nonsense) it was also the visitors in costumes that made me scratch my head in confusion.
I knew that people who go there dress up in era-appropriate costumes. It’s a fun thing to do. I like fun things, and I can’t hold it against those people. I only wish that I had interests that allowed me to go out in public wearing leggings, a rapier, and a loose, billowy shirt. But as it happens, that’s a stupid interest, so it’ll never happen.
As for the women, many of them had bodices that were so tight, with shirts that were cut so low that…well, the title of this column pretty much sums it up. And they weren’t even good areolas, (like Salma Hayek’s). They were the bad kind. Like the areolas on your overweight, hairy-lipped aunt who doesn’t understand that simply because she’s got Double Ds, she’s still only attractive to your uncle and that’s because he spends the majority of this time blackout drunk, (yikes, that was an oddly specific scenario.)
What really got me were the people who confused the Ren Fest for Halloween. As soon as I stepped out of the car, the first thing I saw was a guy wearing what I could only assume to be Captain America pajamas, without being the least bit self-conscious. That’s when I knew I was in for an interesting day.
Once I actually entered the “fairgrounds” my mind reeled at all the different costumes; pirates, imperial storm troopers, Jedi Knights, cavemen, barbarians and one dude who was wearing only a bath towel and a necktie. I desperately wanted to ask him what way going on in his mind, but I lost him in the crowd at the Snot & Phlegm Comedy Show (yes, you read that correctly.)
To be honest, I actually had a good time hanging out with my friends and people watching. The sheer madness of everything around me felt like a wave, carrying me around the place, dropping me off only to pick up the occasional drink, before whisking me away to the next deranged sight. I was borne upon wings of weirdness and it wasn’t too bad. At least, until the major crowds showed up and walking around became impossible. At that point we managed to escape to greener pastures.
In retrospect, I find it funny how many seemingly normal people shed their guises when it means they get to be weird among their own type. I wouldn’t be surprised if that guy wearing the towel is really a Congressional aide or a stock-broker or some shit like that. I guess everybody needs to let their freak hair down every once in awhile, (Unless you’re me, in which case it’s all the time.)
Oh yeah, and I got some kick-ass face paint of a bloody axe, on my cheek. That was pretty cool.
*Totally not a Medieval Wonderland.