So, the other day, I wrote about how I set out looking for things to piss me off, in a masochistic exercise in self-aggrivation. This past Sunday, I did the opposite, though accidentally.
Amy and I made the rash decision to head out to the PA Rennaissance Festival, which we've attended sporadically over the past few years, though we were religious about attending back in the days when Taso (Knightriders) Stavrakis and his company did the jousting and the dueling. The last four or five years haven't been that great, and for the most part, the comedians and acts are exactly the same, year after year.
But this weekend was pirate weekend! Charlie and his family were going. It was an opportunity to hang out with them... and a bunch of pirates! Really, who doesn't love pirates?
All the ads say things like "period costumes encouraged!" Charlie and I always joked that this year we'd go as a cowboy and a retro-50s spaceman (hey, they don't actually specify what period you should dress in! It's all implied, and being an American, I don't take too well to subtlety). Well, I upheld my end of the bargain.
I went as a cowboy.
Amy had on her peasant shirt, but skipped the flowing skirt due to the 80-degree weather. I, however, being of heartier stock, had jeans, boots, a leather vest, neckerchief, hat, and a holster (for water). I'd even borrowed a pair of Bill's spurs for good measure!
We got to the fairgrounds and opted to give blood in exchange for free tickets. It would go to helping out the Katrina victims and would also, well, you know, get us in free.
So there I was: a cowboy amongst a sea of pirates and similarly-overheated mideval types, wandering from hackneyed joust to baudy performances by "Wicked Wenches". When I ventured to yon establishment to purchase my customary turkey leg (sadly, they were out), I found myself being glared at by the beveredge wench.
"There weren't cowboys during the Renaissance," she said.
"There wasn't Diet Pepsi, either."
She didn't like that response, but sold me my drink anyway. However, I didn't get "Another five pounds for the queen, huzzuh!" like the guy in front of me did.
A little while later, I was admonished by a sword vendor: "Dude, you're in the wrong time period altogether."
"Yeah," I said, "I got here late."
I had to admit, I was enjoying being the anachronism, but I wasn't prepared for the actual pissed off looks I was getting from the workers. Even those pretending to be the King and Queen of the Fair seemed annoyed by my presence.
Now, I wasn't actually making fun of anyone. I wasn't even pretending to be a real cowboy - just a guy dressed like a cowboy. But I didn't take into consideration that people who travel with these fairs take not only the fair, but themselves, very seriously. So... okay. The bar wenches can refer to themselves as the incredibly demeaning term "bar wenches", and spill out of their wonderfully- to poorly-made bodices, and the "knights" can wander around with their codpieces outthrust, but woe unto you that steps into the realm of fantasy with any sense of irony about you! This is no place for whimsy!
It's like any cliquish gathering, I suppose. Horror fans don't like it when non-horror fans show up. Anime fans don't like people to scoff at them at their own convention. Gamers don't like being shaken down for their lunch money at their own gigs. So I guess my showing up in American Western garb was psychologically depantsing a lot of the Renaissancers.
Which, I suppose, begs the question: why did I go in the first place?
To be perfectly honest, I was in a silly mood. I'm not afforded a lot of opportunities to dress like a cowboy, and I wasn't about to pass this one up. I wasn't there to actually piss people off, but, on the other hand, I'm not sorry it happened. I knew I looked ridiculous, but I wasn't implying that anyone else was. I just wanted to have a little fun. That I wound up having fun at your expense, little miss "no cowboys during the Renaissance", only added to my enjoyment.
Geez, folks. You're saying "thee" and "thou" and selling pretzels on sticks and wearing wool in the middle of summer. Give a cowboy a break!