Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Patrick Flynn and Ronald Tipton, 2016.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Flare for the Faire (Labor Day Weekend 2003)


The boy and I headed up the Pennsylvania Turnpike one Sunday morning to the shire. Two lone knights on our separate quest, my wife and daughter choosing not to go this time. We had all been to the faire the prior week.
We arrived a bit early, but things begin before the gates are opened.  The villagers and travelers were milling about, knights hovering near upon their horses and all manner of folk awaiting the arrival of the queen.
William Shakespeare was standing upon the village wall above my head, next to two of the local rabble.  He was fretting because he had not finished the play he had written for the Queen and she was soon to arrive. One of the rabble told him not to worry if he was unable to finish, they would just blame it on ME! Already in trouble and the queen's trumpeters had just sounded her arrival.
Since the boy didn't desire to wander about with his dad, I ambled down into the village proper upon entry through the gates.  Most must have awaited the royal formation to form, for I found myself the only 'civilian' so to speak among the shops and stages.  It was like stepping into the game of Zelda.
I walked up the hill to the Endgame Stage, where the Queen will eventually come to declare the day begun and found a few visitors had come this way after all.  William Shakespeare was now at this site and a person upon the stage was praising his latest work, something called "Hamlet", which he then explained in Cliff Notes fashion to us eavesdroppers.  Lacking his full cast, he grabbed a volunteer (right!) from the audience and put on a two-person version. His fellow cast members did arrive, but that led to three dead Gertrude's.  You really had to be there.
Anyway, the Queen came and after those opening ceremonies, I sauntered down the hill again. I noticed to my left a character skulking along the side, running to hide behind different objects along the path.  My guess was he was following a noble Lady who was strolling about ten paces ahead of me. I glanced her way momentarily and next I hear the skulkers voice in my ear.
"Sir, I pray ye help me catch yon Noble."
He had scooted behind my back and was using me as a moving shield.
"Do you mean that Lady?” I asked.
Ah, he was aghast. "Why no sire, I wouldst never rob a lady."
"Rob?  Then how do I know I can trust you back there?" I asked.
He ignored the question. "No, I am after that Nobleman there."
I looked and it was a fancy Nobleman who had been in the queen’s court.  He was gay and had been most interested in the visiting swordsmen from Italy.
"Sir," I told him, "I would prefer the lady."
The last I saw of this scalawag he was creeping behind the noble and reaching for his purse.
It was a lovely day at the faire.  I really think Labor Day weekend is the best time to go. No rain came on Sunday and the day was sunny, but never got more than comfortable in temperature and the crowd was less than usual.  We had gone on Labor Day the other year because it was the only day everyone was home at once.  It has been difficult with all the varied schedules in recent years.  That Labor Day the crowd was less as well. I also found this Sunday that I was more involved in participating in the make-believe of the place than on other visits.  Whether this was a result of the lighter crowd or because I was traveling about alone I don't know, but it certainly added to my fun.
I went from here to the Globe Theater to see the show of Foolhardy.  This man and woman due was new, a first time act. Dressed in fools’ costumes strewn with bells they proved very enjoyable.  Of course, like most acts, they took a "volunteer" from the audience. Volunteers are often those who protest the most.  Being alone I took a seat on the second row of benches on the center isle.  I like to be near the front to see and hear better. As Foolhardy drummed up attention to the show a man entered and mentioned to a family across the aisle seated in the front row that volunteers were usually grabbed from there, especially if one was seated on the aisle.  The man seated there immediately got up and moved down to the center of his family, which could be certain doom, for immediately Ima Nutt, the female fool chortled "I have my volunteer".
Ah, but surprises lay ahead.  The show began and she came forth into the audience and whom does she head right for but yours truly.  Oh my God, I'm doomed. She snatched off my cap and began rubbing my head with her hand and said, "I have my volunteer...and it's you" at which time she pointed to a man seated in front of me.  Both I and the man across the aisle sighed in relief.  Rick, the chosen one, was pulled on stage (it never pays to resist) and by the end he had a fool's cap, a bulbous red nose, a pink ballerina's skirt and a name tag reading Dimwit, his new name as he was trained to be a fool.  The guy was a great sport and it was a funny show.
After FoolHardy, I watch street performers before the Globe perform sword dances, juggle and walk on glass, caught part of the Empty Hats and then the Royal Hypnotist.  I went to this show twice last week and again this time because it is fascinating to watch the subjects.  The show is the same in material, but since it is new people each time it is also different each time.  This time I even tried the exercise to find subjects.  I have a feeling I don't really want to be hypnotized.  The man explained in the beginning that one could only be hypnotized if they want to be.  He then asks the audience to go through some things that allow him to find willing subjects.  One is to hold out your arms and imagine a weight tied to one hand pulling it down and then a balloon on the other floating up.  He asks you to open your eyes and see if your arms are still parallel.  Mine weren't, my right was down some, my left was up some.  This is similar to techniques I learned in Aikido Training, where you used a form of self-hypnosis to overcome opponents.  For instance, you get a larger opponent down and you are pinning them.  You then picture yourself caught in sucking mud, pulling you deeper and deeper and you will find your opponent can't push you off because you have willed the force of sucking mud against him.  It does actually work.  I have ever since applied the technique to open stubborn pickle jars.
The next exercise was to grasp your hands together and imagine there is a capsule between them that bursts as you squeeze.  It is filled with glue and it glues your hands together and when you open your eyes you won't be able to pull your hands apart.  I opened my eyes rather skeptically and pulled and my hands would not part.  This kind of shocked me and I made a great effort and they finally popped apart.  Those in the audience who did not manage this were asked to the stage,  the victims.  If you ever get a chance to see a hypnotist's show do so.  It is very interesting.
This show and the Looney Lucy and Ploppy X-rated Smut Show (as they call it) were the only shows I repeated from the week before. I went to Menagerie, Renaissance Vaudeville, Trial & Dunke, The Pirate Auction, Cast in Bronze and Don Juan & Miguel.  I enjoyed them all, but especially a moment at Menagerie.
Now this was not a bunch of animals.  Only a female singer accompanied by a male guitarist.  But they did wicked limericks and sang bawdy songs along with some patter.  Very funny.  Then she sang a song called "Why Young Girls' shouldn't Marry Old Men."  The reason of course was old men couldn’t get their foller-lolly-le up.  And in the final verse she left the stage in my direction, straddled my leg, removed my hat and like before I had my head rubbed, but this time not with her hand, but with her breasts.
Her partner said, "Sorry about that, sir," but I told him the pleasure had been all mine.
In between the shows I had paused at one point to consult my schedule of events and was approached by a villager offering assistance. He was the Royal rat-catcher and we had a nice long discussion about his trade and the problems of his life (he hadn't laughed in 30 years).  I think I surprised him somewhat because I carried on a conversation of trading quips and lines.  Most people kind of smile when approached and engaged while the actor does all the talking.
This is the realistic aspect of the place.  Characters populate the village and all day long you see little conversations, disagreements and other interesting events occurring along your way just as if you were in a real place.
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed my day in the 16th Century.  The boy bought a sword (a real one) and he found his flower girl again. He is going back next Saturday with some of his friends.
I am going back to the future myself.

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