In the latest installment of “Love, Recorded,” Matt and Cathreen go to a renaissance fair. Geekery ensues.
It is September 11 as I write this. Some idiot has threatened to burn the Koran. The world is as insane as ever. Cathreen and I are going to a medieval fair with our landlords.
The trip was their idea. In the morning, I hear them coming down the stairs and I open the door to see that they are in costume. She a black corset and velvet skirt, he a Seinfeldian puffy shirt.
This is going to be a good day, or disastrous.
Actually, the first thing I notice are two enormous breasts. A woman is stuffed into what she calls a “sectional,” a term I don’t ask about, some other kind of corset. She tells us about the nipple jokes she plays on the “milk maid.”
King Richard’s Faire opens with a nice little skit with jokes she knows by heart. I cannot imagine knowing these jokes by heart.
Cathreen says that once we step inside, we will be in another world.
We walk around lost in costumes and accents and general geekery. Then we attend the Torture Show. If we like what we see, our host says, we should yell, “Torture!” He waves fire to bring people to the show. “Fire!” he shouts. We are reduced to our basest instincts. He pounds a nail into his nose, then pulls it out and licks it. He sticks fish hooks into his eyeballs. “I am a trained professional idiot,” he says. The kids laugh, planning their own idiocy, and their parents slap them on the back.
In the end, he tries to teach us a lesson about achieving the impossible. He relates this to the fish hooks. Fly a plane, I think. Go deep sea diving.
Cathreen looks queasy.
I start to feel done by 12:30. But Cathreen says she is happy. She’s never done anything like this. She’s never heard of anything like this. Who from another country would? When I was in middle school, we had a Renaissance Fair. We beat each other with foam noodles and called it a joust.
Now we watch an acrobat in period clothing balance on his head and joke about starting a support group for other older acrobats in period clothing. “I’m having so much more fun than you guys,” he jokes.
Someone in front of us gives off a medieval stench.
After the show, Cathreen pulls us into a corset shop with her eyes gleaming. I’m not sure what to think. I feel like I should think this is great. “Medical grade boning,” a sign reads. What does that even mean?
Shop after shop. “All this junk is completely useless,” I say.
“Excuse me?” Cathreen says, picking up a unicorn.
I think it starts to turn around for me while watching The King’s Tournament. These guys are dedicated to their roles, whatever else might be said about them. They buy into it. We cheer for an insulting knight with no chivalry, by far the most entertaining, though I suspect he is supposed to be the bad guy.
The show we have been looking forward to most is a tiger show. Two cubs, three adults, and a liger. The snow tiger cub appears and a girl behind us hyperventilates, like dolphins screeching, but on a skipping record. She looks about seven. It takes me a while to realize she is hyperventilating due to cuteness. The cuteness is overwhelming.
To me, the liger makes the whole day worth it. The 12-foot, 900-lb offspring of a lion and a tiger? A woman holds a piece of meat an inch above his nose. I wait for him to eat her.
Suddenly I feel what Cathreen is talking about, like we’ve been transported back in time. Except we haven’t. We are as bloodthirsty as back then, that’s it.
A moment passes in which something profound starts to come to me.
Then our knight says he will cut off the other knight’s head and we will all drink from the hollowed skull.
“I like this,” Cathreen says.
All that is left is Revels. The cast of King Richard’s Faire sing in a way that shows they all truly love each other. A boy gets up on the stage and dances.
It’s a good day.
Cathreen says I can write about how everywhere in the fair I can see the fun we could have with kids of our own. “Okay,” I say. “I will.”