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    Wednesday, August 17, 2005

    Back Online and Pennsic Tales

    After spending the whole summer without 24/7 internet access, I've come to the conclusion that I'm hopelessly attached to the 21st century. So much for living in the past. I tried, I really did.

    However, now that I've gotten myself all set up with broadband again, You can expect postings (more than once a week) that will have links and photos again. Posting all summer from borrowed dial-up made this kind of a pain in the neck, and the load times were frankly just making me crazy. I opted not to include stuff like that unless it was absolutely necessary. So there you go.

    Pennsic War is happening as I write, and I really wanted to find a bunch of money in a bag or something so that I could afford to go. Oh, well. Maybe next year. I hope you are all having fun.

    Some of you may not know this, but Pennsic was my very first event. My very first experience with the SCA. I had never even gone to a fighter practice. In the spirit of Pennsic Pity Parties all across the Known World, I will now recount for you my special Pennsic tale.


    My friend Ashton, (who had merchanted for years there) invited me to go with him to Pennsic before I moved out to Colorado in September of 1993. We used to go to King Richards Faire when I lived in Massachusetts, and he thought I would enjoy the SCA, as it was much less capitalist, and they don't kick you out when the cannon goes off.

    So, I packed what few 'rennie' costumes I had, and drove the 12 hours to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania with my boyfriend (Rich) at the time and another friend (Darren).

    Ashton had pre-arranged a camping spot for us with FALO (A fantasy and legends group from New England) but I had only met a couple of them maybe once or twice before. This was back in the days that you could still see a few elf ears at Pennsic. They have since been banned, along with vampire fangs.

    So we arrive smack in the middle of Midnight Madness. Not that I have any idea what happens during Midnight Madness, only that there seems to be an awful lot of people wandering around screaming at our car. We were driving around really slowly, with just the fog lights on, trying to find where FALO was camped. "Ahhh! A Dragon!" "Kill it!" Wow, are these people weird, I thought.

    So we keep circling this one area (which I know now to be near Vlad's Pleasure Palace down by the lake) and I have the site map in my hand with the location that FALO is (apparently) camped, circled. I think maybe I have made a mistake, so I ask Rich (who is growing ever more disturbed by driving through costumed freaks yelling "Dragon!") to pull over so I can ask someone if they can help us find FALO's campsite.

    This is where the story gets non-family friendly, by the way.

    It's dark, and foggy, and I see a man standing in some bushes near the edge of the road. I assume he's just waiting for us to pass, but noooo. I hop out, map in hand, to inquire if we are anywhere NEAR the right place. I'm so confused and turned around that it takes me a moment of blathering about being lost to realize that he's pretty much naked. Except for a bandana. And it's not tied around his neck. And I'm pretty sure he's tripping on acid or something, because he starts asking me about the stars in my hair. What?! I say "uh...I'm looking for FALO?" while trying not to look DOWN. "Do you, ah...know if they are camped near here?"

    "What does he look like?"

    "Not he, THEM. Fantasy and Legends Organization. From Massachusetts."

    "Oooh! Fantasies?" He smiles and steps closer to me.

    "THANKS! BYE!" I jump back in the car, and Rich says to me "Any help?"

    "No. Drive."



    "No way. Jesus Christ. What the hell did Ashton get us into?"

    We eventually found our way to the right place, pitched our tent and proceeded to have the worst sleep ever, convinced that the naked, tripping, "Dragon!" yelling weirdos would come and murder us in our sleep.

    Dawn came, and with it a fresher perspective on the whole thing. Once we got to meet all of our campmates in daylight, things were a little easier to bear. I was a bit unnerved by all the fangs, elf ears and satyr legs, though. I discovered that in general the SCA barely tolerated their presence. At worst, some of them were spit at or had things thrown at them in merchants row. It was interesting to see what I could only describe as 'racial profiling'. Just because all of these folks were more interested in 'fantasy' than 'history' didn't make them evil or anything, just different. As I mentioned before, Pennsic has since banned such things, and I believe it is their loss entirely. But I digress...

    I endured about three days of complete culture shock, while managing to offend at least a dozen people because of my lack of SCA etiquette. How the hell should I know if my clothes are period? What does THAT mean? Oh, RIGHT you are a king. Sure. I bet you say that to all the girls.

    One night, while walking around, I passed a tent that I could see from a distance was moving in a rather rhythmic way. Not having a great deal of knowledge about shortcuts and such, it seemed the only possibility was to walk right by. And I'm sure you all know how flimsy nylon is, and how utterly NOT soundproof.

    Try having a leisurely conversation with your boyfriend while casually strolling by a backlit, very amorous couple, not two feet from you. And then, just to make things interesting, you get to hear the male half of the couple say, "My lady, MY LADY! Please, you MUST tell me your name..."

    Just try not to burst out laughing. I'm sure we ruined their moment. If either of you happen to be reading this, I'm truly very sorry. And I hope she told you her name. Then again, maybe she had good reason to keep her identity secret. She could have been the Queen of the East or something.

    It's a wonder I stayed in the SCA.

    PS: As I was spell-checking this whole post, it kept wanting to replace "Pennsic" with "penises". Appropriate, no?


    1. wow, I know a Rich that is involved in FALO, who are by the way still at Pennsic.

    2. Very nice. Keep up the good work.

    3. I read an interesting article on it I would like to share with you...


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