Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My first event

As I mentioned in my previous post, our fledgling group travelled to the Shire of Wolfsgate (Wolfville, Nova Scotia) to attend our first event, the Mis-Spent Lent Event. This event was centered around a supper, or "feast" as it is called in the SCA.

In the SCA, one assumes a "persona", a person who could have existed in the Middle Ages. There are few restrictions on what kind of persona you can adopt. The time period covered is in the general range 500 A.D. to 1650 A.D. One cannot start as nobility, so you can't be Duke Whatzit. Nobility is earned in the SCA. One final restriction is you cannot be a person who actually existed.

On the drive to Wolfsgate, I decided I would be Rupert Maxwell, an Englishman in the time of the first Spanish Armada (1588). Don't ask me where I got the name from - I just made it up. My thought was that Rupert was a wandering adventurer, son of a merchant who was forced to leave town after an improper relationship with a noble's daughter.

Your first event is a little overwhelming. I'm glad this event was fairly small (about 50-60 people). People were wandering around in "garb" (medieval clothes), speaking forsoothly and trying to behave like it really is 1500 A.D. or whenever. We had borrowed or made our garb. I was wearing a blue T-tunic (T-shaped shirt, basically) and some nondescript pants and shoes.

I think the event was held in a community center. There was a large gym-like area where the main activities went on, a kitchen, and a hall between them. My first surprise when I arrived was meeting Lise Quintin, my sister's friend from ten or so years before. I recognized her, and she me, so that was cool.

My second surprise was there were WOMEN in the SCA. Obviously I knew on a logical level that it wasn't just guys, but the thought never occurred to me. And some of them wore some pretty interesting dresses - interesting to a twenty-year-old male with raging hormones (20YOMWRH), that is.

I can't remember what specifically was served at the feast, but I can give you a general idea of SCA feasts. They are normally served in "removes", or what normal people call courses. A feast typically has between six and a dozen removes. Each dish is brought out by one or more servers (often volunteers from the event attendees, a good way to meet people) and served to the head table first, then to the rest of the populace. Sometimes the next remove will be brought out while the previous one is still being served, especially if there are a lot of people at the feast. Often there is a break in the middle of the feast for a stretch, to dump what you didn't eat off your plate, grab a smoke, and so forth. Generally one takes at least a little bit of everything. I'll have to talk about the types of food served in another entry.

After the feast I remember there was dancing. Medieval dancing is another entire topic, and I spent a lot of my later SCA career doing and teaching dance, so it became a big part of my SCA experience. I don't think I danced much at this event.

Sometimes there are little "side games" that go on at SCA events. One that I remember from this event was the cloven fruit. Here's the process:
  • Someone offers you with a fruit with cloves in it

  • You take it, remove a clove and bite into it and subtly discard it

  • You offer your hand, cheek or lips to the person to kiss

  • Now YOU get to give the fruit to someone else

Needless to say, as a 20YOMWRH (and a geeky one at that), this was a great game. I was kissed several times. Bliss.

There are a lot of nuances in the game. Generally one tries to be subtle about approaching your "target" and surprise them with it. That's not hard when the fruit is an orange or a lemon, but more difficult when it's a watermelon. Always, always the lady decides where she would like to be kissed. Be a gentleman! It's also considered bad form to repeatedly kiss the same person.

My friend Marc decided he would mix up some Wonder Wine to bring to the event. He ended up bringing 4 litres of wine, and he drank quite a bit of it himself. I remember him staggering around the later part of the event, using a wall to hold himself up, and finally vomiting quite a few times, fortunately outside the hall. He had a hangover for a week. Hee hee! It's great to be a teetotaler when other people are suffering from drinking.

We stayed over at someone's house and went back to New Brunswick the next day. Needless to say, I was hooked!

Next entry: the next couple of events, including the very first S&M War.. er, Great Northeastern War.

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