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07.31.01 1:15 p.m.

It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.


 -Oscar Wilde 



Renaissance Faire
Emily and I have completed our first weekend working at the Renaissance Faire. We are still healing our exhaustion, and my feet have seen far better days, but I think we are the better for it. Fiscally, we are exactly $140 better for it.
Our work began around 8AM on Saturday. Regular readers understand that I feel getting up early, especially on weekends, is an intolerable sin. More so on weekends, of course. Still, it was our first day, we needed employee passes and the like. Also, my costume was little more than a pair of tights and a poet shirt. I was not sure I would make the cut. Emily, dear Emily, had only sandals and had thus allotted the sum of $150 for a costume. This had to be procured before we could actually work.
We shuffled to our booth, bare as it was, and threw down what we had. Our boss, Rozalisa, told us how to set up, how to sell the items, and other commercial facts which Emily took in more than I had. Emily clearly had more experience in these matters. I think she has a little businesswoman that lives in her left ear. The business woman wears a tiny pinstriped suit, for what it's worth.
It all seemed fairly simple and Rozalisa more than approved of my costume, which actually matched the booth's coloring quite nicely. What was especially nice was that Emily and I were given an apprentice. Not that we really needed her this weekend, but it was just fun to say, "Apprentice, fetch us a new necklace!" Okay, so we actually never said anything in that tone, as we liked the wee lass. But we could.
I must confess that Emily was literally breathtaking in her costume. One of my big hawking lines was to approach a fairly attractive girl and say, "If thou dost not mind my saying so, thy beauty doth eclipse the sun. And yet... thou art lacking something... it canst be love... I know, tis jewelry!" and generally innocuously flirt to get them in the booth. However, every time I saw dear Emily in her sartorial splendor, it really did feel like the light of the sun dimmed. She was stunning and I could rarely take my eyes off of her. She walked to a trash bin across the path from the booth and I remarked to the apprentice, "I hate to see her leave, but gods do I love to see her go!" I do believe the apprentice rolled her eyes at me.
As she was so captivating, she encountered more than her share of unwanted attention. One guy was so lecherous as to warrant my pulling Emily back to the booth by the cuff of her sleeve, for which she thanked me. I more than understood how unpleasant this could be. One girl took my pitch too far and insisted that she lacked a boyfriend and would I be hers blah, blah, blah desperation-cakes. I told her that my girlfriend would be averse to the idea and the lass sped off.
Several times during the weekend, Jamie, who I went to a concert with so many months ago, visited our booth. She was selling plastic wreaths. It was nice to see her again, but I got the feeling that Rozalisa preferred if she didn't stop by, as she evidently made sales in front of the shop to people who theoretically might otherwise have bought from us.
At lunch, I ended up getting on the good side of one of the bar wenches, who informed me that she would provide me with as much drink as I wanted, I merely had to come see her. Emily believes she is hitting on me, but I am not sure. I would like to believe she is just being friendly. All the same, I think I will continue to be the one at the booth appointed to fetch drinks from her, just in case. We wouldn't do dehydrated without our bar wench, as Emily used my card to buy us a very large drinking horn that we refill with water frequently. Evidently, the vendors and actors are never supposed to be seen eating or drinking. The horn lets us drink whensoever we please, because we are not doing it from a plastic cup, which clearly didn't exist in the Renaissance. Pepsi, however, still did. Pepsi is eternal. Pepsi was what Jesus offered his disciples, they just changed it to wine because they were all lushes.
Emily raised a good point and valid observation. People who dress up for Renaissance Faires, who do not work there, are incredibly annoying. By this, we do not mean those who wear light period clothing. No, we mean those people who wear thousands of dollars of metal armor on the hottest day of the year. Those who wear elaborate costumes pretending to be werewolves or griffins (Emily and I joked that we would ignore anyone dressed as a mythical being, because they clearly do not exist). Whenever I went to a ren fest, I wore a poet shirt and black jeans. I felt no need to bedeck myself in fangs and fur, nor do I expect I would unless it was Halloween. Even the fairy and elves I can deal with. That is lightweight and fairly humanoid. All of this is more than slightly reminiscent of Zack's complaint when we took him to a supposed ren fest, that it was just of bunch of adults living out some fantasy and it was creepy.
Sales were ridiculously slow for our booth Saturday. When Rozalisa inquired as to how much money we made, her eyes did a combination of a sad puppy dog and a mouse that had been kicked. She summarily informed us that we were approximately $1500 short of the expected sales for the day. Though Emily and I worked ridiculously hard to make the $330 in sales we did make, I still felt slightly guilty. However, it truly was not our fault, as Rozalisa informed us.
Sunday was easier, though equally as slow. Still we were hit on, though no one was quite a scary about it. One large and ugly man offered to buy stuff if Emily would escort him around the fair for an hour. She rebuffed him politely and hugged me tightly. What friggin' jerks. They only time people pay them any attention is when we are trying to get them to buy something and they act like they have suddenly because the gods' gift to humanity. Oi.
While we are speaking of jerks, as we were, I think I made an enemy at the fair. I was looking through the armor shop because I used to have this cool little leather bracer with metal spikes. I described it to the salesgirl and her cocky boss came in and said, "Oh, that is a widow maker. We don't sell that." Okay, that is fine. I started to leave and he patted my shoulder condescendingly and continued as though I were some sniveling idiot, "We only make the real stuff." So spun around and snarked at him, "Oh, for the real battles you are not getting into?" Ye gods, some people are arses. I wanted something I considered jewelry, I wasn't bloody armoring my infantry and neither is he. He makes leather goods primarily for maladjusted freaks (not all of the people who buy these sorts of things are, of course. Some people just indulge and it is healthy, even cool. However, other people are Comic Book Guy in tight leather) and he shouldn't harbor delusions he is doing anything more valiant.
The faire has given me a new story that really encapsulates who Emily is in my mind. She was on break, visiting the privies (bathrooms), still in full garb (long purple dress, corset, sandals, floral head piece, jewelry). All the stalls were occupied but one, and that stall's door was swinging the wrong way. So Emily hiked up her skirt and gave the door a quick front kick, repairing it. Evidently the other privy denizens were startled by her well-chosen use of force, especially given the outfit she was wearing. Have I mentioned lately how fond I am of this girl?
Sunday's total purchases were actually worse than Saturday's. We tried everything, harassing people, quietly sitting in the booth, flirting, the works. Still, less than $300 was made in nine hours. Like pallbearers, we gathered everything up and put it away, expecting the worst. Rozalisa was quite irate given the lack of sales. Both of us were certain we would be punished in some manner. More so when Rozalisa wished to see us after we were done cleaning up. Emily and I walked to Rozalisa's as though to our own doom. We sat and waited for her to be done, expecting one of us would be fired. When she started a sentence, "I'm sorry to have to say this..." we both braced for the worst. I played the entire scene out in my head about twenty times before the rest of the sentence reached my ears, "but I have to pay one of you in singles." Then she asked how we thought we could improve purchases. So, huzzah, still gainfully employed.

Coming Down and Strangers With Candy
Saturday night, we were wiped out. We could hardly move, let alone be productive members of society. We went shopping at Wal-Mart (Motto: Paving America for white trash and family values) and wanted to just fall asleep in the car. Even inside the air-conditioned coolness that is that megalith, the cart was often to only thing that kept me upright. After getting snacks for Sunday and the required items to make pizza, we returned to the bed-ful land of Emily's house. We became nearly catatonic after a warm bath and some pizza, understandably so.
Sunday was easier for us both. A great deal less exhausted and far less in pain (though my shoes did turn my feet black again). We stopped off at a bank machine to deposit Emily's 100 $1 bills. We kept joking that people would think she was a stripper, as they are the only profession that it paid wholly in small denominations. While still in the bank cubicle, another couple entered and waited as Emily deposited her dollars. As we left I proclaimed, "but she's not a stripper." It would possibly help that we were both barefoot and still in our costumes.
After doffing our costumes, we decided that we needed Friendly's (motto: don't let the name fool you, we can be quite surly) to celebrate our new jobs and money. But first, gas was needed. Emily filled her car up and paid while I sat in the car and made faces at people. Because I am mature. Emily exited the station with a large smirk on her face. Here is the conversation, as far as I can remember:

ME: So, Cat, how did the canary taste?
M: Do you know what just happened?
ME: No, tell me!
M: I apologized to the woman for paying entirely in dollar bills and told her that I just got paid. So she said "Are you one of those dancers?" I explained that I worked at the Renaissance Faire and she asked if it was a carnival. I said it was sorta like one, except you dress and talk funny. She gave me a strange look, so I left.
Ah, the adventures we two have.
When we got to the restaurant, we noticed that the small boy standing there has visited our booth at the fair and had a "baby dragon" (anole) with him. We engaged him in conversation and he evidently remembered us. He was very cute, though no one will ever surpass little Jacob in Central Park.
I remarked to Emily that it felt we had two very separate lives suddenly. One where we harass people to make them buy jewelry, use weird accents, and dress up and one life where we just are. However, the former life seems to make the latter life sweeter. I appreciate drinking a large glass of soda and speaking with my vague upstate accent (I am with Melissa in saying that I do not have an accent. I speak as people do on the news, where they are taught to speak neutrally). I appreciate wearing jeans, especially.
Emily and I split an appetizer platter and a pineapple chicken concoction, as well as an M&M sundae. We are very good at sharing, actually preferring it to separate meals. Don't worry it isn't painfully cute. Just cute enough.
As we were about to leave, the waitress sat down with some customers behind Emily that the waitress clearly knew. They were lamenting that they wanted a Reese's Cup sundae very badly, but the kitchen was out of them. I gave a mischievous glace to Emily, who was aware that I had a large bag of Reese's Cups in my bag, and ask if I should. She smiled and state she felt I needed to. I stood up and walked over, asking the man if he just said he wanted a Reese's Sundae. That he did, so I walked over to my table and pulled the bag out of my backpack. I asked the waitress how many were needed and handed her the amount. The guy said I restored his faith in humanity, in a wry way. The waitress was still extolling my virtues when we left. Aw! I made someone's night brighter.

"I'm Gonna Be a Rock Star..."
I spoke with Sarah last night. Evidently the lass may have been discovered, in that Hollywood way. She was working at her grocery store when a model approached Sarah and insisted that she should do some modeling. Sarah, of course, showed interest. To me, this is a fulfillment of her destiny. I always knew something like this would happen for her, as did she. It makes me wonder when I will find my destiny, or at least a road map to it. Maybe I am already well on my way. I merely do not have the clarity to see where I am on my path. I am insanely happy for Sarah, of course. It make me joyful that good is coming to her, as she deserves it immensely.

They Were All In Love With Dyin' They Were Doin' It In Texas
Melissa and Liz came over to hang out with M and me. M was pretty out of it, having completed her algebra mid-term that day. As such, she mainly lay on my bed and occasionally ordered more food from me. We spoke of Mardi Gras, for the most part. The hotel got changed again, owing to the lack of reliable transportation in New Orleans and the illegality of walking on throughways. Also, Emily and I have school the week we are to be in Mardi Gras and return the day our spring break begins. Oi. I will likely skip, should it come down to that. I am a studious little bug, I can handle it. Emily, I am not so sure about. We'll see.
When Melissa and Liz left to smoke, I started reading Hell Baby to Emily. It was a present a few years ago and is a particularly repugnant graphic novel. So, clearly the best choice. When Melissa returned, she told Melissa to force me to stop reading. No fun.
Melissa got a call from a friend whom she used to work with. What followed was like hearing one side of a soap opera. People sleeping with other people to get to third parties. Covert attacks. Brutalization with toe nails. Bad popcorn. Oh, it was intricate. The conversation went on about ten minutes. M and I were hanging on to every word to try to make sense of what happened with whom, when. And sometimes why.
I'm glad my life isn't that "interesting." When someone spites me, I just shut him or her out of my life until they can behave. It they can't, then I no longer pay attention to them. Much easier and less stressful that way.

reading: Demian, Herman Hesse
listening: Janis Joplin and Scott Joplin
wanting: Rozalisa to make more money.
interesting thought: I have $140 dollars.
moment of zen: being submerged in hot water after a very long day.
someday I must: write about vacations here.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.



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