I left the garrett.
This shouldn’t be so important. You know I leave the garrett. I don’t solely exist in front of the laptop screen, typing out mad blog prose for your enjoyment.
It just feels that way sometimes. And since I’d so much rather hang out with my fictionals, it usually takes something pretty significant to get me out of the garrett and among the living.
Except for groceries. I still go shopping for groceries.
Anyway. This isn’t a grocery story.
I still owe you the remaining tales of White Hart Renaissance Festival 2022.
So if you read my post about opening weekend at White Hart, you’ve got some idea of how this is going to go. And since I only made it out one more day to the faire, I honestly considered not posting about it at all. It was just a normal day, really.
But then I remind myself that there is no normal day at Ren faire and what is normal for me really isn’t for the rest of the world.
Right. So. What happened?
Set the stage. It’s hot under the oak trees. We all relish the breeze. There’s a little spindly tree outside the mercenary tent and we all cluster under it, me, the Piper, the fighters, a few friends, talking about music, gaming, opera, theater, ballet, and smacking stuff really hard with a sword. We have a swordfight earlier than scheduled just because we wanted to.
M’lady Fleur was there, running across the grounds in her full hoopskirt and being the life of court. I was chatting with one of the Queen’s Guard later in the afternoon and we were theorizing where she gets her energy. I proposed that she was hiding energy drinks under the bell shape of the hoopskirt (very good for smuggling). He suggested an IV of pure Red Bull or adrenaline. I think he was slightly envious and tired.
I actually ended up dancing with Fleur in the Queen’s Glen. Every faire, Queen E. and her courtiers teach the patrons a simple circle dance. I’ve wanted to do it for a while, but what with always having the violin in my hands…I managed to sneak in this time and Fleur was happy to teach me the steps. I wasn’t all that graceful about it, but it was quite fun.
And Fleur and friends were jigging later to my music. The court jester (fairly certain the same rogue who taunted me into playing Thunderstruck at Dragonfest last year) kept asking for things until I played him “Drunken Sailor.” I meant it as a taunt, especially since I went from a slow, slurring tempo to much faster–but I am forced to a begrudging respect.
He jigged to the whole piece. Even when I spiked up the tempo. While eating fries.
I want to still be annoyed by him (and to some degree I still am)–but I can’t. Well done, thou merry rascal. Don’t ask for country music again. We hates it.
And speaking of Thunderstruck…back by the mercenary camp, conversation turned to the 2Cellos. Namely, their famous video of Thunderstruck, in the white wigs and period costumes–
Nobody was exactly asking for it, but I couldn’t resist.
Yeah. I played Thunderstruck again. And it’s really great fun, because nobody has any idea how to respond to that. And just like when I did it before, a little crowd of patrons materialized–only since I was facing the gang and the woods–they were behind me and I could only guess about how many/what was happening by the reactions on my friends’ faces.
I didn’t…really turn around when I was done. Not at first. Lieutenant started chatting them up, telling them about the mercenary groups, advertising when the next fight would be. I laughed and shook out my arm (it gets an ache from that opening), but I still had manners enough to curtsy when he introduced me.
I played for the fight too, of course. Little themes in the background to make things more interesting. The fighters tell me sometimes that the rhythm helps, gives them an extra push.
And I wandered. I always wander. I made my way down to the children’s area (design flaw, guys. Why is it next door to the pub?), scuttled away from the pub because there were already musicians over there (banjo? Banjo.), and found my way to a nice tree behind the tilting yard. There are two of them there and they form a sort of entryway if you’re walking to the field. And it was a good spot, because I could see everyone and the joust.
I did eventually give in and go over to the Queen’s tent. It’s one of the perks of being a performer–I get a really good view of the joust anytime I want it. We had haybales set up behind her dais, so a couple of the Queen’s ladies and I sat there.
Or we started to, anyway. One of the ladies (I forget her character name, so we’ll call her Lady V), really has a heart of gold. She’s been doing the faires forever and knows better than any of us how fast the seating fills up for the joust. So while we were all looking forward, she was looking back and spotted a family with three or four little kids, probably not a single one of them older than nine, all standing in the sun and trying to see.
So she gives up her seat an invites them into the Queen’s tent. I wound up sitting next to them, thinking dizzyingly about my first faires, when I wasn’t much younger than them.
I mean, I doubt they’ll end up as mad and chaotic as I did, but one never knows.
It was a good joust. Sir Marcello, I noted, got a new title. Since Sir Charlie is the Queen’s Champion, I guess it only seemed fair that Marcello be the Prince of Spain.
Hmm, what else? Sir Charlie made fun of a Scotsman (in good fun, I think), and volunteered him for the beheading. And since he wasn’t as hot and exhausted as on opening day, he said his line of “Pet the knights, meet the horses,” properly this time. I think he was satisfied by that. But perhaps the best joke belonged to the Queen’s Guard.
Since I was perched right behind them with the three kids and their slurpees, I was in the perfect place to hear one of the guard say “So we’re going to say ‘blood, blood, blood,’ right?”
(cue bookmarkedone’s keen interest)
Of course I knew exactly what they were up to. But knowing it doesn’t change the jolt of surprise when half a dozen men start bellowing “BLOOD! BLOOD! BLOOD!” at the top of their lungs as the two knights start careening down the field.
I admit, I shouted with them. Not as much as I would have with the kids sitting next to me, but…well, I think fun was had by all.
Except when two of the kids declared that they didn’t have a clue where their parents were.
(cue bookmarkedone’s keen alarm)
So now I, the highly irresponsible bard, was the de facto guardian of three (or was it four?) kids.
Of course their parents were watching them from the shade behind the tents the entire time and came to claim their kiddos immediately, but I still kept them with me at the tent until I was sure they were all together again.
Then I ran off again. As bards do.
Near the end of the day, I was wandering the faire with Lady Fleur & Co. when I glanced over and saw someone I thought I recognized. Patrons, standing with their backs to me, in costumes cobbled together the way patron costumes always are–swords but also tennis shoes–you know.
I hesitated for a minute, because I was half a field away and it would be really kind of awkward if that’s not who I think it is guessing from the back of their heads. So I moseyed. Who’s going to pay attention to a little bard plucking at her violin and apparently taking no particular direction?
The patrons in question, that’s who. I got close enough that I was sure it was who I thought, a couple of violinists I’d played with back in high school, and just hung a few feet away, waiting to see if they’d say hello or walk right past me since I was in full costume.
No such luck. One of them said hello and called me by my actual name (doesn’t happen a lot at faire, where little miss bookmarkedone is just the fiddler except with a few fellow players. Is it fair that I was a little irked? Probably not). And really, while I get that I recognized the back of their heads because that’s the view I had every week in orchestra for a couple of years, I’m a little unnerved at how fast they recognized me.
I don’t talk about faire a lot at academic or more formal violin events. Like it comes up with my close friends, and I might mention it if it’s relevant in a lesson, but I couldn’t remember saying anything about it to either of these two.
It’s–different. I play a character when I’m at faire. In orchestra, in concert settings, I’m serious. At faire, I loosen up. I had a family member tell me once that I almost become a different person there, and to some degree, it’s true. I think you have to be, walking in that halfway fairyland. And besides. In a place where you have people introducing themselves as queens and princes, knights and Vikings, mercenaries, jesters, bards, and plague doctors, why would you want to be the same thing you are every day?
That being said, neither of these two patrons had ever seen me in Faire Mode.
Yeah. About that.
We said our hellos, chatted about the faire. I hadn’t seen one of them in what, five years? And I said they should meet Fleur. Because I’m happier when I’m not talking, and she’s good at talk, and really, if you want the faire experience, you’ve got to meet Fleur.
So I ran and got her.
And Fleur’s great because she stays in character. It’s easy to feed off her energy, to interact. So she’s doing a light accent and talking fast, and before you know it, I’ve code switched back to dialect, “Oh yes indeed,” “my good sirs,” “my lady,” chatting away with her–and then I glance at the violinists and realize what I’ve done.
“What brings you here?” Fleur asks.
There’s a pause. They gesture back to the fried food booth they were at when I found them, name the dish they were buying. One must wonder exactly how much Fleur and I threw them off by now.
I laugh. “That’s a start.” And I tell them they should visit the mercenary camp, since I can introduce them.
Fun fact. I didn’t.
It was near the end of the day, so I left maybe twenty minutes after that. Didn’t see the guys again. If they wound up at the mercenary camp, I don’t know. I may have caused them to doubt that they saw me in the first place.
(cue evil bookmarkedone laughter)
It’s not the first time I’ve pulled a disappearing act. I’m pretty certain it won’t be the last.
So that’s White Hart 2022! I’m sure there were probably some adventures that I’m just forgetting to include. If you like what you read, check back here next week. I’ve got more bardic adventures on the way, including one I’ve been keeping secret for a while.
And if you go to Ren faires, leave me a comment with one of your favorite memories! The more the merrier, hip, hip, huzzah!