I’ve been researching sea cucumbers since Saturday evening, when I returned from the New York Renaissance Faire. One of the sea cucumber’s natural defenses–well, its only one as far as I know, since it’s a cucumber–is expelling its intestines if it feels like it’s being attacked. The idea is that the predator will get caught up in the intestines, and think it’s a big surprise party of silly string, thereby giving the sea cucumber time to slowly scooch away.
I have decided that I’d like to be a sea cucumber. I would like to be able to, at any point in time, vomit up my guts so that I can temporarily confuse people into partying, while my remaining bits sneak off and return to RenFaire. That’s how magical a place it is.
When I was age seven, my parents and brother and I went to the RenFaire in Ohio. There were bawdy Shakespeare performers who said the word “damn,” and that was a dangerous and sensational word! We watched jousting, I ate a turkey leg bigger than my torso, and bought a princess headdress that I was positive made me look like the Childlike Empress from The NeverEnding Story–in reality, with my blunt little blonde bob and bangs, it made me look more like a medieval pageboy. I still screamed, “SAY MY NAAAAME, BASTIAN!” during most of the ride home. Then the turkey coma hit, and I passed out before I could even get the headdress off.
I haven’t been to a Renaissance Faire since then. About a month ago, a girl I went to theatre school with posted on Facebook that she was performing in the NY RenFaire–her post just happened to coincide with my not getting a job I thought I had in the bag, and I saw that post, and the tiny, malnourished remnants of my inner child screamed, “A LIGHT! A TINY LIGHT THAT WILL KEEP THE DARKNESS FROM SWALLOWING US, BIGKEELY! CATCH IT WITH YOUR DEBIT CARD!” And so I did, and proceeded to get so excited about RenFaire that it took on a monumental importance in my life: it became the ultimate symbol of reclaiming my childhood happiness. (Also, Rendress.)
Each day became an obstacle between me and RenFaire 2012. Ultraman also got a ticket, even though he isn’t really into that kind of thing. He’s always been too attractive and well-adjusted to really need the fantasy/medieval culture. I think he agreed to along because he’s seen me very excited, and it’s almost as scary as seeing me very depressed. He did, very wisely, suggest we bring sunscreen. I stopped Googling “female chain mail armor” long enough to wave my hand dismissively and tell him that “where we’re going, sunscreen hasn’t been invented yet.”
The day came! We took a cab to the bus station, because I was convinced leaving only an hour ahead of the scheduled boarding time was cutting it too close to take the subway. We somehow navigated Port Authority, and when we turned the corner to our gate, we were met by a huge line of waiting passengers.
Just as I began pumping my first and shrieking, “WE’RE ALL PUNCTUAL AND WE’VE ALL SEEN A KNIGHT’S TALE” I realized that the long line was not for our gate. Our gate was the neighboring gate, and unmistakably, the gate for RenFaire.
The pink fairy told me the long line was for some outdoor shopping mall upstate. I told her that I loved her outfit, then got so excited that I got the hiccups. When we pulled into the parking lot, I refused to let Ultraman pee, and dragged him by his long arm toward the castle-like entrance. Let me tell you. Renaissance Faires have changed a lot since I was seven years old. These days, they are even cooler. I will describe RenFaire in big letters!
There were turkey legs everywhere, and a field where knights jousted, and a game where people threw axes at a big wooden panel! Robin Hood and Maid Marian and Queen Elizabeth danced around a Maypole, and there was even an archery stand where I tried shooting a bow and arrow for the first time, and felt my inner-Katniss Everdeen die violently of shame!
And a petting zoo that featured a depressed porcupine,
a chubby hawk named Utah,
There was strangely endearing product placement!
And, maybe most importantly, headdresses.
Putting that headdress on was like stepping into a time machine. I put it on and felt myself become The Childlike Empress. RenFaire was my Fantasia, Ultraman was Atreyu, and everyone else was Falcor. It was the perfect day. No part of me wanted to leave, especially after I got the hiccups for the third time during the final joust–spoiler alert, Queen Elizabeth gets into an axe fight, and it’s awesome.
But 6:30PM came, and we had to get back on the bus. I felt like a kid being forced to leave a playground, and part of me wanted to curl up in a ball and scream and cry until someone told me that I could stay there forever. I felt the little light I had bought with my debit card begin to go out, and my inner child slowly slipping back into malnourished pseudo-being. I began to feel small and insignificant again, and everyone else was starting to look more like people and less like Falcor. I felt my face doing the thing it does before I cry.
Then the turkey coma hit, and I passed out before I could even get the headdress off.