I took my son to the Georgia Renaissance Festival yesterday. As soon as the sky was bright we headed out with the intention of being there at opening and staying til close. We’d sleep in the city overnight and head back this morning. This was a birthday adventure for my son. (If you think that sounds like a cheesy gift, you have never counted how much money leaves your wallet at such events). In any case, it was a nice drive, not too much traffic, and Siri was content in her doggie seatbelt in the back with the open window draft against her face. In less than 3 hours, we were parked and ready to enter.
Before you ask, no, we didn’t dress up. I have nearly finished an awesome Queen Mab costume, but a) the thought of driving 3 hours in a restrictive corset sounded about as comfortable as running into an ex in the condom aisle; and b) my son didn’t want to dress up.
Shows, artisan demonstrations and wares, all manner of medieval and modern food fare, music, dancing, and a whole lotta corsets and kilts.
If i have never mentioned it, i have a weak spot for a man in a kilt. I don’t care if he has the heft of Louie Anderson, the face of Willie Nelson and the legs of a junkyard dog… If he’s wearing a kilt, i will melt. I’m not sure if it’s the vibe of the highland legends that i love so much, or the knowledge that it takes a special kind of man to wear it with confidence and a comfortable smile, but the sight renders me besotted. Never is a man more handsome than sporting his family tartan, the loose muslin shirt, blade tied to his side… Oh my…
And the corseted women… One of the often overlooked, but delightful things about a renaissance faire is that supermodels don’t look good in the costumes. The truly spectacular maidens and wenches are the ones with the mounded, pilowy breasts and the bustle-y bums. Slap some satin on her, throw a corset around her waist, and she looks like Hamlet’s wet dream. Seriously. The younger ones with head garlands of flowers. The older ones with French hoods or crowns… They are lust personified.
The food… I started off going the expected route, mead and a turkey leg. Mead… I know it has a serious cult following, but it isn’t for me. I mean, i’m glad i tried it, just to say i have, but to me it seriously tasted like something whipped up on a dare at a one-star alehouse. The turkey leg… Now THAT was delish! I made it about 2/3 of the way through before i started thinking about what kind of farming practice produced a turkey with legs like that and had to toss the rest in the garbage. There were other kinds of meat on a stick and a variety of ales. We stuck with sarsaparilla and Cornish pasties – which, while acceptable, were nowhere near the yum-factor of my Auntie Muriel’s. There were fried pickles, kettle corn, jerky, and spiced almonds. Slightly out of place were the jalapeno poppers and ice cream shakes. But suffice it to say, we didn’t leave hungry.
There were some great shows, including washer women who were rangy and bawdy as hell and made us laugh til we cried. Jugglers, characters on stilts, and a bunch of staff who walked about in character selling everything from fresh flowers to dried meat. I’m not sure how they were told to do it… Many of the pretty young girls went around singing their inventory. The men usually rambled on about taking pity on them because the boss wouldn’t allow them to drink until they sold it all. A few older broads, with squeakers buried in their corsets, took their barking rather literally and demanded you hand over your realm coins now or they’d pummel you. When you complied, they squeaked their tits for you sweetly and then barked at the next mark.
The jousting area was filled to capacity. It wasn’t til the third and final act near closing that we were able to get seats near the arena. The equestrianship was excellent. The sword fighting, well choreographed. (When the two princesses took swords to each other, a couple of the men behind me nearly heated themselves.) I learned something about my dog, tho. She flipping hates horses. Every time one came near the fence, she went ballistic and let loose with a rabid bark that i’ve never heard come out of her before. It got so bad, i ended up leaving the seat i claimed 30 minutes before the show just to calm her down. She was still a puppy when she was rescued, so i can’t be sure if some traumatic event precipitated this. Was she born in a neglected barn full of hateful horses? Was she belted by a horse-faced and cruel woman? I don’t know, but i can promise that i won’t be taking her to the Kentucky Derby.
Is there anything more repulsive than a Port-o-Potty? Especially at the end of a day full of use by the masses? Seriously, why isn’t there a traction bar on the door to keep you stable while you squat so you don’t have to touch the nasty thing? I am never more jealous of a man than when i have to pee at an outdoor festival. I’d have given my mortal soul to have been able to wing it behind a tent yesterday afternoon. But alas, i was stuck. It wasn’t until i had disinfected every exposed part of myself with sanitizer and rejoined my son and SiriDog that i realized i hadn’t seen him approach Prince John all day.
I asked, but was waived off.
Nearly an hour later, we are stuck in a traffic jam on the bypass. So stuck, in fact, that the temporary speed limit signs of 35mph were a cruel joke. In the midst of this, my son says, “You need to stop someplace. Like, now!” To my left is a Jersey barrier. To my front, right, and rear are enough cars to fill an Ikea, and none of them are moving. I turn to him. He looks like that kid in Rat Race when he begs his father with the line, “But, Dad, i’m prairie doggin’ it!” He isn’t kidding. He needs to go. Now. And there is no way it’s gonna happen. I gesture out the window and all around me and promise i’l do the best i can.
This was not the time for me to be nagging momma, but i had to ask why he didn’t go back at the fairgrounds. I was stunned at his response… He doesn’t use public restrooms. Ever. Not even at school.
What??? “You’re at school for nearly 8 hours every day! How can you not go to the bathroom?!?!” He explains he has trained himself not to. And that means that today he has gone nearly 12 hours. Holy crap. Literally. I expected my weedlings to be nuts. I mean, they’re my kids, after all… But i am not familiar with this kind of nuts. And not only that, i’ve got to find him a bathroom, and i’m nowhere near an exit, and we’re not moving anyway, and Siri must sense his panic because now she’s doing the quick shuffle too.
I’ll spare the details and say that he made it. Barely. So he was already in bad humor when, later that evening, we had checked into the hotel and immediately zonked out on our respective beds…
He wakes me with a “Ma, listen to this!” He plays something on his phone. At first, i think it’s part of his Canuck love affair… “The song of the Canadian Goose” or something. I listen closer… No, that’s a tugboat, i think. Or a lighthouse. I looked up at him… And then i knew. It was me. I’d been sneezing all day, and my allergies had me snoring at such a volume and tone that i, myself, couldn’t distinguish between me and a shipping barge. Poor kid. As if he needed more shit in his day (See what i did there?)
That was the bulk of our adventure this weekend. Kilts, corsets, turkey legs, horses, Port-o-Potties, prairie dogs, and tugboats. Life is a mixed lot. But hey, i got a Milady deWinter knife for my Queen Mab costume, watched my son show off his archery form, enjoyed Siri getting petted and loved by a dozen or so pre-school knights and pages. My youngest weedling will remember this quality time. I learned a lot about him this weekend. And i learned i need to disable the “record” button on his phone. But it’s all good. Life is good. And i am so thankful.