Deb and I like to go to whatever events are happening around what one Portland sophisticate termed “the famously dull Tri-Cities.” The logic is simple. If your community doesn’t supply a vast surplus of toys for you to play with, when it does, one had best play with them, lest said community cease to supply any toys. What is more, at least in the Tri-Cities, whatever the event is, it’s not a struggle. It might be smaller than the big city version, but it’s doable and affordable and safe. There will be parking, it won’t be horribly expensive, and the crowds won’t be too big a battle. We don’t have enough people to create that large a crowd anywhere.
So we went, to ye land of ye guys fighting and ye minstrels and ye blacksmiths. I always love to watch the latter because there is a strong attraction in the combination: scent of burning coal and iron, sight of hammered metal and fiery glow, and the ring of the hammer. I like splitting obstinate pieces of wood just to swing the sledge from the end, and to hear it ring on the wedge. It’s almost as musical hearing someone else pound away.
While it’s hard to see myself deeply attracted to medievalism, there’s a lot to like about it. People make stuff. They make yarn, they make cloth, they make clothes. Candles. Daggers. Beads. Beverages. They work damn hard at this stuff, and a lot of it is pretty impressive. It suggests a self-sufficiency that resonates. What if all the electricity went out? Some people, at least, wouldn’t be utterly lost. What is more, the majority are really quite pleasant folk, ready and eager to hold forth on their fields of expertise, or help the mundanes (that would be us). It’s not like golf, where the visitor or newbie deals with impatient scowls and haughty disdain. (Do golfers not understand that this is killing their sport? I swear, the only athlete more shortsighted than a pitcher toeing the rubber is a seasoned golfer.)
It also makes me realize, from an editing perspective, how much esoteric vocabulary got left behind in the Middle Ages. Just all the parts of a suit of armor, or of a castle, or terms for long-faded occupations and tools have caused thousands of words to slip into disuse. A medieval fair is heaven for places who know or want to learn all those.
When I go to these events with Deb, I don’t really take in most of the event because her sort of random wandering style and my systematic canvassing don’t really harmonize that well. I usually yield to hers unless the event is something in which I have deep and specific interest, with the result that I don’t really see or take in most of what is going on, and that’s fine. It’s more about just being out and about as a couple, doing what there is locally to do and enjoy.
Plus, there was a male belly dancer. He was actually pretty good, rocking it. I respected him. And as Deb pointed out to me (as if to a slow child), he was flirting with me. Ha! I always attract the bear lovers.
Just call me Yogi.