Thursday, July 2, 2009

Huzzah, and All That

--Adrienne Miller

When I was a teenager--late teens, mind you--all of summer was a lead up to one glorious event. Four or five unforgettable weekends each summer that I like to think shaped who I am...or, at least, shaped my arsenal of stories that make Martha wince. 
Before we get there though, I think a little preface is in order. I’m not sure if we’ve had enough time together for you to grasp my full geekiness. Oh, I’m sure we’ll get there...Star Trek conventions, Swedish pop bands, Dr. Who, an obsession with Converse...the stories will all come out eventually. I’m not ashamed of my geek status. It was hard earned.
Because when I was younger I spent every summer at...The Renaissance Faire.
Oh, sweet Ren Faire, with your fake english accent and and strained iambic pentameter, how I loved you.
My friends and I would pile into someone’s car and drive up to the Black Point Forest in Marin. 100+ degrees outside and all of us dressed in about twenty pounds of cotton and wool that covered every inch of us except our chests. We had a contest to see who could get their cleavage the highest...the renaissance was a bawdy time, you know.
I remember the smell of damp earth and duff that hit you when you walked through the gate. There were other, more noticable, smells--this was an outdoor event, mind you, filled with people and animals that all had to go sometime--but these are my memories, so I’m choosing to ignore them. 
Flowers and ribbons in our hair. Tarot cards read by a gypsy wearing gold coins. Giant, greasy turkey legs for lunch. 
And the boys...You didn’t think it was solely my love of history that brought me back week after week, did you? 
The Ren Faire was where I learned to flirt. Ordinary-world Adrienne, the jeans and T-shirt version of me that everyone knew, she wasn’t so good at flirting. But cinch me up tight in a bodice and drop me in the middle of pretend Sherwood Forest and suddenly I could bat my eyes and smile at any cute guy who crossed my path. 
Cause that was all the Ren Faire was--pretend. A group of people coming together to all play make believe for a few weekends each summer. And there’s nothing wrong with that. 
Then one summer the owners of the property sold off the land to a company who decided the land would be more profitable as a golf course. The faire found a new home further south, but by that time I was hanging out with a different set of friends. I’d met a guy who I could flirt with regardless of what costume I was wearing. I stopped going. 
It wasn’t a sad parting. Other little summer rituals have taken the place of the Ren Faire. But when I think of summer there is still a little part, deep inside of me, that yells out Huzzah!


Sophie Littlefield said...

I can't believe you didn't include a picture!!

and those stories that make martha blush? since i know what makes martha blush, i'm totally intrigued

Martha Flynn said...

these are not sanity stories, sophie. not by a long shot.

Adrienne Miller said...

There are no pictures. We were young but we were smart enough to leave no evidence trail. And if questioned I will deny everything ;-)

Lisa Hughey said...

Well darn but I would have liked to have seen a picture :)

I went to the Renaissance Fair (with my parents-and not dressed up-so I'm thinking it was a little bit different experience) I loved it-especially the jousting and fencing. Hmmm is it any wonder I write suspense rather than historical? :)

Rachael Herron said...

That cracked me the hell up. I went a few times, never got into it, but the cleavage stacking was the best. And the flirting.

Tom Neely said...

Maybe it's because I rarely dressed up in period garb when I went but I never had the guts to flirt with the gals who had their busts hoisted up to their eyebrows. I was a dork in real life, a bass player to be specific, so being at the ren faire elevated me to super dork status, which was at extreme odds with flirting.

The only time I got flirty was the last time I went, which was shortly after I started dating a future romance writer. I flirted with her. She flirted with me. She flirted with.......

Well anyhow, it was fun and a great last visit. In the end, the bass player married the hot writer girl and the ren faire now resides happily in our memories.

Lisa Hughey said...

That is so sweet :)

Dana Fredsti said...

Oh, Adrienne, you sound like a soul mate! I started going to Ren Faires when I was 18, the very first one they had in San Diego's Balboa Park Organ Pavilion... Red skirt, cinch belt, white billowy sleeved top and a gypsy accent so thick it would make Bela L. proud. Used to swordfight at the faires... did them for years before the time finally passed. Your post brings back memories and I would LOVE to talk to you about Star Trek Conventions. :-)