Bad news, readers. I am about to do something that I swore I would never do again in my life. I have agreed to attend the local Renaissance “Faire” with the Flaming Redhead. Yes, that’s how they spell it, with the extra ‘e’ on the end. I can’t bring myself to type it that way without quotation marks, and I’m talking about the noisy kind of quotation marks, so that you can hear the snideness in the author’s voice as you read it — because that extra ‘e’, just like most everything else about the “faire,” is hogwash.
Those of you who have had the misfortune to attend one of these awful spectacles may understand why I would take such an oath. I’ve been there a handful of times before, each one more soul-tarnishing than the last, culminating in the most recent … well, if I must retell the story, I should relieve your suspense right away by letting you know that I did not end up getting prosecuted for possession of child pornography. And when that’s the best thing you can say about visiting the Renaissance “Faire,” that means you had a very bad day and probably should not go back.
And before you ask, I will not tell you which “faire” this happened at. I am not willing to entertain conjectures that I just happened upon a rare bad one, and that the one you are loyal to is better, more authentic, less filled with dangerous perverts, etc. I’m not going to believe you.
As noted, I had been there already and found it lacking. It didn’t take long to figure out that historical authenticity is quite beside the point for these people. Their outfits confounded belief, agglomerating various elements of different nations and periods in the same way that a lollipop picks up all the different kinds of lint under your sofa, and I looked upon those costumes in the same way I would look at the linty lollipop. There might be a blouse from the Trecento, mixed with a Swiss puritan bonnet, mixed with fairy princess accoutrements shown in Disney films, plus maybe a little Celtic woad, and then you might even see elements of Star Wars, anime, gothic attire (the modern kind that doesn’t even know it’s named after a barbarian tribe), and other bits of cosplay nonsense you might see at Comicon. Not that I’ve been to Comicon, although that is topmost on the list of thing I intend to do after I get lobotomized.
So history was a point of indifference at best. I did observe, however, a certain type who viewed the “faire” as an opportunity to air out the murky inner recesses of their sexuality, and believe me, it was not pretty. One weedy-looking guy in a ridiculous costume walked up to me, holding a rubber chicken and some leafy green tuber plants, and asked me if I would like to “beet” his “cock.”
So when my friends asked me to go, I gave them a firm refusal. And when they asked again, I refused even more firmly. And when they said they were going on a Sunday evening, which at the time coincided with my weekly radio appearance, I said, “Can I interview a costumed weirdo for my radio show?” And it was agreed.
Well, my quest to find an interviewee went poorly right from the start. The people who costumed themselves with the greatest enthusiasm, at least on that day, were the ones least gifted at speaking. When I made the terrible mistake of approaching one of the actors who works for the “faire,” I narrowly avoided being thrown out. And while I can think of things more degrading than getting thrown out of the Renaissance “Faire,” they aren’t numerous. They informed me, rather snippily, I felt, that the only way I could interview anyone is if I book it two weeks in advance and give them a written list of all the questions I would be asking. So public relations plainly was not high on their list of priorities, especially since the “beet my cock” jackass appeared to be one of theirs.
Despondent, I was preparing to leave, mission unaccomplished, when what seemed a miracle presented itself: a polite, well-spoken girl in a remarkably elaborate elf costume happened down the way. She was accompanied by two much larger women, by which I mean, women of average size for this sort of event, by which I mean, larger than the average woman. (Same applies for men.) One was the elf’s mother, the other a friend. They told me the elf was an aspiring actress who would love to be on the radio. Fantastic!
Never trust an elf.
(For accuracy’s sake: the elf depicted in this photo is not the one I met, but her heart beats with the same dark hatred.)
While the elf was on air with Chris and Mike, I spoke to her mother and her friend. They were also costumed in the customary fashion, meaning that their dresses were cleverly engineered to display the vastest possible tracts of lumpy, sunburnt cleavage. They told me, or perhaps “instructed” is the more accurate word, that it is customary for a gentleman like me to ask any maidens he may happen upon for a kiss. So I gave them each a polite kiss, feeling that it would be rude not to. Then they informed me that I was not to kiss the elf, because she was only 16 years old. Remember this; it’s important. I easily agreed, and the interview ended. They gave me the elf girl’s contact info so that I could send a recording of the show, and that was that. I made my hasty escape and sent the recording as soon as I got it, thinking that would be that.
I was wrong. Elves, I was to learn, radiate danger from every pore, and I was not yet safe. That’s because when I got her info, she got mine, and three weeks later, while I was at work, I received a text message from the underage elf. To which she had attached a picture of herself. Naked.
Naturally, this happened during a company-wide staff meeting, at which I was sitting in the front row. I tried very hard not to react visibly, but that’s difficult when you hold in your hands an image that can get you imprisoned, and your only thoughts are This isn’t real and Make it go away!! Physically, my response was a sort of spasmodic choking that I tried to pass off as a cough, fooling no one.
Obviously, I made the picture go away. The awayer it could go, the better, and I deleted the hell out of that thing. But it took a while before I could bring myself to tell Chris and Mike, and it was a good two years or so before we decided it was safe to discuss the matter on air, despite the obvious importance of delivering a PSA about the danger of elves.
And now, I’m about to head back into that den of treachery that calls itself the Renaissance “Faire.” The Flaming Redhead will just have to be patient with me if I shrink in terror from the leather mug makers, the perverted Jedi hobbits, etc. And if I see an elf, I can hardly be held responsible for my actions.
Never trust an elf.