Empty Bobbins: The Walker

The name comes from those times when you’re in the middle of a project and your bobbin runs out.  You have to pause what you’re doing and reload.  While you do that, you have a moment to just sit and reflect.  This is a collection of musings and reflections on life’s moments. Some are quilting related, and some are not. This entry was featured on a previous blog of mine years ago.


So I grew up in the South, deep South, and one of the core understandings of Southern culture is to wave, nod, or otherwise gesture when passing someone or making eye contact. I had the pleasure of living briefly in Alexandria, VA. While I adored it there, there was no small amount of culture shock that I discovered the hard way.
I won’t forget my second day there when I made eye contact with someone, an older man at that, and before I even realized what I’d done, I’d given him a nod – otherwise known as the “Howdo?” nod. It’s a small thing, but the idea behind it is that you’re acknowledging that person. And that man, who back home would have smiled and maybe even chatted, scowled – actually scowled – at me. Well, that put my “Howdo?s” in check pretty fast. I remember feeling so awkward when I would pass someone who seemed, at least to me, to be going out of his/her way to ignore me.
So I returned after a year to see a friend after having moved back to the homeland, and I found myself being reminded of my roots while walking. I was alone on the sidewalk when I spied a man walking towards me a good ways off. Again, where I come from, it’s considered polite to make eye contact and smile or nod. Jeebus, do something to acknowledge that someone is taking up mass in the same vicinity as you! Anyhow, as I watched, the man seemed stiff, and his neck was so rigid that it left no doubt that he knew I was there, walking in his space, breathing in his air. And yet…and yet he was going out of his way to not look at me. It was clearly much more uncomfortable to him than me as I gazed at the scenario, amused. At least I waited until he passed before laughing out loud. Imagine, going through all that just to not look at me. It has gone down as one of the silliest moments I can remember from up there.
How often do we go out of our way to avoid the obvious?

Related blogs and posts:

Porchscene: Exploring Southern Culture

The Cultural Markers of Southern Culture

 

Empty Bobbins: DragonCon 2014

The name comes from those times when you’re in the middle of a project and your bobbin runs out.  You have to pause what you’re doing and reload.  While you do that, you have a moment to just sit and reflect.  This little commentary that follows was from my old blog and details a trip to DragonCon in 2014 when my daughter was 3, almost 4.

I’ve gone to DragonCon on and off over the years.  I love it when I go, but I find I can tolerate crowds less and less as I get older.  I just don’t want to deal with it much anymore unless I simply have to.  If I go to DragonCon at all, it’s now on Sunday.  That being said, this year my family is sitting it out, but many of my friends are going. It’s a blast to see what all they’re up to!

Of course, the best part of DragonCon, or any Con, is the people-watching, and boy did it not disappoint.  One of the first costumes I saw was a lady with a sizable Toothless the Dragon draped across her shoulder, her arm carefully hidden in the neck and operating the head.  She was very nice and patient, too, as I held my 3 year old close.  Toothless tried to nuzzle my girl, but she was having none of that; she was quite content admiring from afar.  She’s her mother’s child after all.  And this Toothless-wielding lady wasn’t the only person who took special time with my kid.

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Literary cosplays are the best!

It’s easy to relegate cosplayers into a group of people vying for attention, usually in Anime getups, and on one level you’d be right.  They do dress to get attention.  But on another level you’d be completely wrong.  They dress for attention not so much for themselves as for their craft, the costume.  And in that craft, they act more like a model for their pride and joy – those costumes they spent weeks, and sometimes months, making and crafting, paying attention to minute details only a select few will truly appreciate.   (I have a lot of friends who are in to cosplay, and sometimes I forget I’m not actually part of that subculture.  I’m just privy to it.)

Back to my daughter.  She didn’t appreciate the Tinkerbell cosplayer’s sewing, makeup, or hair.  Her appreciation was of a much more sincere type, and the Tinkerbell cosplayer was worth every ounce of admiration.  You see, my daughter didn’t see someone dressed as Tinkerbell.  She saw the One, the Actual, The Tinkerbell.  And that Tinkerbell was amazing.  She squatted down to my daughter’s level, something dangerous considering how many people were rushing past, and spoke with her as Tinkerbell would.  My daughter informed her of her own pink wings, and Tinkerbell, without missing a beat, says, “Of, course!  Because you’re a flower fairy.  I’m a tinker fairy….”  My daughter was totally in the know of the world of Pixie Hollow, so she was just enthralled.  And me?  I was so happy that this lady understood how important this moment was for my daughter.  She could have just paused for a quick picture and gone on with her day, and my daughter would have been happy at that.    But no, she took the time to talk and make the moment real for a child she didn’t know.  I don’t know how many times I mouthed “thank you” to her as she chatted, but I still think it wasn’t quite enough.

And most of the cosplayers my daughter was brave enough to approach were just like this.  Even a younger girl, around 8 years old I guess, dressed as Princess Unikitty, was patient and returned the hug my daughter gave her.  A group recreating the Pixie Hollow fairies actually came back to their spot when they saw my daughter standing timidly at the edge of the crowd, too shy to walk up.  They waited and waved to her, and she finally drafted another friend of mine to take her to them.  (What?  Mom’s too lame to go with you to Pixie Hollow?)  They all took their roles seriously in that they knew how much it would mean to the little ones there, wading through thousands of people, to see them.

So in a way, I suppose this is a thank you letter to the wonderful cosplayers at DragonCon.  Thank you for your craft, thank you for your patience, and thank you for making my daughter’s favorite characters come to life for her.

Have fun, everyone, at DragonCon 2018!  

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This guy was so patient.  He has a Facebook page where you can see more of his work.  He’s fantastic!  https://www.facebook.com/Lonstermash/

If you’re interested in anything cosplay, I recommend The Geek Forge.

Related posts and blogs:

How the Power of Cosplay can Bring a Family Together

Sew Style Hero: All Might; My Hero Academia Cosplay

Scarlett Witch Cosplay: Avengers Infinity War

SURVIVING DRAGONCON : 2018 EDITION

From DragonCon to MommyCon

An Analysis of Pixar’s “Bao”

As mentioned before, in my real life I’m a literature teacher at a high school. If you’ll permit me to exercise my non-quilting skills, I’ll demonstrate what I do on a daily basis in my classroom.

I recently took my kids to see Incredibles 2 (okay, let’s be honest – I took myself, the kids were just along for the ride!)  Like many Pixar films, there was a short film prior.  These are really cute and usually saturated with metaphors and rife with literary analysis, and this movie was no different.  It had a little film titled “Bao”, directed by Domee Shi.  Some friends of mine, and other rando folks on the internet, expressed confusion and concern over it.  As a literature teacher, I “got it”, so I figured I’d share this little analysis with you all.

Background Info

The Folklore Connection

So there are several things going on in the background of this little film that help with sorting it all out.  For starters, this is a nice little nod to the Eastern folklore story of “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.”  (It’s goes by other variations of that name as well.) Think about it as a sort of Eastern version of “Thumbelina” or even “Pinocchio” and you’ll follow along just fine.  At its heart, it’s the story about a lonely bamboo cutter and his wife who have no children and desperately wish for one.  One day while out on the job, the bamboo cutter’s wish is granted in the form of a small, very small, baby who comes from a bamboo stalk.  The story goes on from there, but it’s the origin of the baby that’s important for this connection.  The baby was created out of a desperate wish for companionship, for a child specifically, to love and raise.  At the opening of “Bao”, we see a couple, older, who are having a quiet dinner.  The husband doesn’t say much/anything, and we’re led to believe that the woman’s wish is possibly the result of loneliness in marriage.

Yes, it’s a bit of a shock when she bites into that last dumpling/bao and it begins to cry like a baby.  We watch in surprise along with the lady as the dumpling becomes sentient and acts just as a baby would.  Where we part ways with the woman is that she accepts the presence of the dumpling child and basically rolls with it.

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Magical Realism

Now comes the second part of the background knowledge you’ll need.  Congratulations!  You’ve just been exposed to [possibly] you’re first experience of a genre known as “magical realism”.  It’s a neat genre, one of my favorites actually, where the world seems normal and folks generally go by established social norms; except when something “magical” happens they just roll with it.  Examples of this genre range from the writing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, especially his masterpiece 100 Years of Solitude, all the way to Toni Morrison’s Beloved.  More popular cultural examples are found all throughout the films released by Studio Ghibli and it’s head, Hayao Miyazaki.  Coincidentally, they also released Princess Kaguya, a version of “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.”

So here’s what I mean.  In Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude, a character actually, literally ascends to Heaven. Do not pass Go.  Do not collect $200.  She straight up GOES Straight Up.  And while we normal folks in our realm would be confused and concerned about the logistics and get caught up in the details, the normal folks in the novel take careful note of the event and then go on with their day with a sort of “guess it figures” attitude.  In Miyazaki’s film My Neighbor Totoro, the kids run to the dad, claiming the house is haunted.  His only response is to comment something along the lines of “Neat! I’ve always wanted to live in a haunted house!”  No one questions or dismisses the kids’ claims.  They believe and embrace them.

So when the little dumpling turns sentient and the woman rolls with it instead of getting caught up in the “why” and “how” of it all, the story crosses over from the realm of the normal and is now operating by the magical realism rules.

The Analysis

Once the scenario is established and we’ve, hopefully, accepted the situation that this woman is now a “mother” to this little dumpling child, we follow her struggles.  This isn’t a normal child.  It’s easily damaged, and she’s fought long and hard to bring it up as best as she can.  While strange, we can compare her joys and it’s growth and fears of the outside world to our own if we are parents.  I’m a mother of two, and the idea of something happening to my two children is enough to change my breathing and blood pressure immediately.

So we learn to understand her concerns, but we also see the little dumpling child pulling away.  We see it going through the typical “phases” of childhood and adolescence.  Again, we can compare these scenes to our own experiences as either parent or child – or both!

Tugging through this all is the one thought “how long can she keep this up?”

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Food as a love language symbolism

It’s where these struggles reach their peak that we see how big a role food actually plays in this film.  It wasn’t a coincidence that the film begins with a meal.  As Professor Thomas C. Foster points out in his book How to Read Literature Like a Professor, meals are symbolic of relationships and indicative of how close people are.  Want to see how healthy a family really is?  Watch them when they sit down to a meal together.  It’s very telling.  For a quick reference examine EVERY DINNER SCENE IN THE INCREDIBLES MOVIES.  BOTH OF THEM. 

So the film opens with a meal between two people with no conversation or eye contact.  It’s an easy sell for us as the audience that the woman probably feels lonely.  As strange as the device of the dumpling child would be, it’s a nice symbolic tie-in that it comes after the husband has left the table and the last piece of food is being eaten by the woman that the dumpling child manifests.  It arrives at the height of her loneliness and her “love language” being unrequited or appreciated.  If the phrase “love language” is confusing, here’s what I mean.

We also see the big scene where she decides, in a last effort to reach her grumpy, petulant dumpling child, she cooks the most delicious-looking meal that animation has EVER produced!  I mean I wanted to go out to the nearest Chinese restaurant after that scene and dig in!  You can see the love and care she takes to ensure this meal is “perfect”.  And her dumpling child rejects it and leaves her alone in the room.  She then proceeds to eat the entire meal by herself.  On the surface, it looks like she’s being petty and doesn’t want to give her dumpling child the satisfaction of leftovers, but symbolically she’s taking back her love because it was rejected.  She can’t take it anymore and tries to “self-love” as she consumes this perfect meal by herself.  Notice that the husband is no longer shown in these parts because it has ceased to be about him a long time ago.  This is about her and her need for affection.

The Parent-Child Relationship Theme

After that rejected food offering, the film reaches its climax.  The dumpling child returns home with a girlfriend.  In fact, he indicates he’s leaving the home to be with her.  Here the woman reaches her most frantic state of mind.  After all that she’s done to keep him safe.  All that she’s provided.  All the love she’s invested.  She cannot bear to see him leave, so she pulls back – literally.  She does physically what I can only guess every mother has done emotionally when seeing her son “replace” her in her mind.  We know she can’t actually stop him.  And she probably knows that even if she were to miraculously manage to keep him with her physically the emotional connection has changed.  In her mind it’s gone.

And here’s where most people, rightfully so, were “disturbed”.  (I use the word I’ve seen to describe this scene by others online.)  She eats it.  She eats the dumpling child in a final effort to keep it from leaving her.  Of course her regret is immediate because she’s still lost the dumpling child.  In her fervor to keep it from leaving her she’s destroyed any chance of a relationship.

And it’s here that the story also reaches its zenith of symbolism.

Parents know that our kids aren’t ours to keep indefinitely.  They will pull away and leave our care and safety at some point.  And the harder we try to control that and fight it the harder the push back is.  And in her efforts to put off that separation she destroyed everything, including the one she loved most.  The story acts as a warning against that consuming love that won’t admit growth and separation.  It is destructive and will only end in tears and further loneliness and alienation.

Isn’t This Just Empty Nest Syndrome?

I’ve seen some claim the film is simply about “empty nest syndrome”.  Well, kinda.  But that seems simplistic and doesn’t quite do justice to the complexity of this story. Empty Nest Syndrome focuses on the separation of the parent and child. “Bao” is much deeper than this.  It’s about that love between a mother and her child and where the line gets crossed between love that is nurturing to love that is destructive.  It’s about that fear parents have of no longer being relevant in their child’s life.  It’s about being possibly replaced.

Wait, there’s a son?!

And here we see her, lying on her bed in the dark, crying continuously.  She’s admittedly much worse off than she was at the beginning of the film.  We see the long-absent husband looking in on her with concern.  And then the big reveal happens.  Her human son walks in, looking adorably like a little dumpling himself.  This makes it easy to understand why we’re only just now seeing him.  The woman was crying both over her dumpling child’s fate AND the fact that she’s repeated the same mistake again.  Held on too hard again.  Severed that bond because it couldn’t be all hers… again.  Her loneliness that we saw in the opening scene wasn’t from her marriage but from her vacant role as mother.

Here’s where it gets sweet.  The son gets pushed in by the dad in a final attempt at reconciliation. And what does the son do to shorten the distance between himself and his mother?  He speaks her love language and offers her food.  And he joins her in this little “communion” and eats as well.  They sit on the bed, side-by-side, and just eat. No words are necessary; they’re already speaking.  He understands her much better than she realized.  He was listening after all.

From this small moment, they begin again.  Only this time the significant other is invited in to the relationship, and the mother assumes the role of mentor instead of “mother.”  After all, her motherly instincts before revolved around protection.  As a mentor, her role changes, and so do the dynamics.  The wife is welcomed and included.  Not only that, but she excels!

Final Message

The food symbolism changes from the sitting down and eating together to the preparation of the meal itself.  The mother is no longer simply offering up her love language of food for others to consume.  Now she is enabling others to also express themselves in that same medium, and they create the meal together.  And as such, she is no longer in fear of being irrelevant or unnecessary in her son’s life.  She is important and feels it.  And the best part is now her child/children have a way to speak her own love language to her.  She is now open to receiving love in addition to offering it.

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Empty Bobbins: A friend with no name

Empty bobbins are moments in life where we pause and reflect.  It’s like when your bobbin runs out in the middle of a project, and you have to pause everything you’re doing to reload.  Here’s one such reflective moment.  This is a moment from a couple of weeks ago when my son went to soccer camp.

So my son, five, played one season of soccer a couple of years ago he liked it but seemed distracted.  Most of the time he just ran around the back part of the group and blended in with the herd.  After that we didn’t hear about soccer again until this past school year.  Well during the week there was just too much going on, so we agreed that a week soccer camp, blessedly at an indoor facility, would be a good start to get back into the game.

Well he loved it.  He was tired, sweaty, and pleased as punch.  I was happy to see he was running and keeping up with the other kids.  As he walked back to the car with me, he was telling me about his friend whom he’d pointed out earlier.  I asked, “What was her name?”  He thought, shrugged, and casually said, “I don’t know.” And then he went on telling me the games they played in camp and such.  I laughed at the fact that he didn’t even know the name of his so-called “friend”.

Well a couple of days later, as we were walking back to the car again, he pointed at a couple of little boys and said, “those are my friends, too!”  They rolled down the window and waved to him.  Once more I asked, “Well, what are their names?”  He looked off and muttered, “I don’t know.”  It didn’t even phase him.

My first impulse was to laugh, but I stopped short because his face was serious as his thoughts were elsewhere.  And here I realized the biggest difference between myself and my little boy’s outlook – and as a result the outlooks of children versus adults.  He didn’t need to know their names to determine they were friends.

As adults, we often ask all about a person to determine how good of a friend that person will be.  We need to know how much we have in common, make connections, and be able to see part of ourselves in that person in order to bond.  But for my son and his friends, they didn’t need to know all that.  They only needed to know that this person wanted to be a friend.  So much so that they forgot to ask about the most basic information – a name.  That simple bond made me smile and consider how we, as adults, would be better off if we could remember that same rule.

What if the fact that we wanted to be friends was enough of a basis for a friendship?

Makes you wonder.

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Related Blogs and Posts:

Autism in Our Nest: Another Successful Season!

How (Not) to Coach Little Kids Soccer

Mushy Post About Friendship

Empty Bobbins: The Last Unicorn

Empty bobbins are moments in life where we pause and reflect.  It’s like when your bobbin runs out in the middle of a project, and you have to pause everything you’re doing to reload.  Here’s one such reflective moment.  This is from a moment when my daughter, now seven, was two.

As a parent, one of the best things ever is getting to introduce all the cool stuff from your childhood to your kid.  So one Saturday evening, I took a chance and busted out The Last Unicorn.  Any kid from the 80’s remembers this film, and I was a little concerned that the Red Bull would frighten her.  I was right about the Red Bull, but after her initial fright, I think she even liked him.  She certainly talked about the Red Bull for a long time after that – and not in an anxious way, more like an old friend.

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Anyhow, so we got to the end of the film, you know, where the unicorns all are freed and come running out of the sea (spoilers!).  There’s a chorus, and by this point you’re super invested in the fate of the unicorns and stuff.  So was my two year old.  I watched to see what she’d do once she got a load of all the unicorns instead of just the one.

The moment was worth it.

Her mouth parted, and she was barely breathing she was so excited.  She finally whispered to me, “can I sing?”  Of course, I told her to go for it.  Now, she didn’t know any words, so she just sang long with the notes as best as she could.  But each syllable she muttered was an attempt to join in on the magic.

It was the magic that comes along with forgetting you’re sitting on a couch and that an adult is nearby.

It’s the magic that comes when you completely let go of pretension and just savor the moment – whatever moment that may be.

It’s the magic of everything around ceasing to exist except the story in front of you.

Somewhere along the way, we become too aware of our surroundings and forget how to do this.  But kids, they know how to do it instinctively.  And in my kid’s joy of singing along with the unicorns, I, too, forgot for a moment I was sitting on a couch on a Saturday evening.

 

Related blogs and posts:

Book Thoughts: The Last Unicorn (Peter S. Beagle)

Animation Revival Beyond Disney – The Last Unicorn

The Last Unicorn (1982)

 

Empty Bobbins: The Musicians Who Raised Me

A while back I discovered Pandora online, and I later downloaded the app on my phone.  In addition to their pre-made stations, you can make your own, liking or disliking songs to fine-tune the algorithm.  I made several different ones: Broadway, 90’s pop, Classic Rock, movie soundtracks.  Heck, I was even in a “dark chocolate” mood one day and made a Danny Elfman station.  But by far my favorite station, and the one I curate the most, is a station I named “Lilith Fair”.

My Lilith Fair Pandora Station

Lilith Fair was a music festival from 1997-99 with a revival in 2010.  It was a celebration of female singer-song writers and musicians.  Check out the names on the main stage from that first 1997 festival!

Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Tracy Chapman, Jewel, Paula Cole, Suzanne Vega, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Fiona Apple, Joan Osborne, The Cardigans, Emmylou Harris, Lisa Loeb
Indigo Girls, Shawn Colvin, Meredith Brooks, Tracy Bonham, India Arie, and Natalie Merchant.

The second and third stages also had some powerful names as well.  I know I spotted my beloved Dar Williams and Dido on those lists.

These ladies and many others fill my Pandora station.  And I love listening to it while I’m quilting.  It’s a neat dynamic, really, creating and crafting in this traditional art form while listening to the restless voices of these beautiful women.

As I listened one day, I realized exactly how lucky I was to come of age during this musical chapter.  The 90’s had a lot of issues, and I refuse to romanticize it.  But the nostalgia attached to the music is real and makes me pine for the time when the fanciest people out there had bag phones they used in their cars with an antenna they placed on top of their car with a cord that kept you from fully rolling up your window.  Long before names like Nokia and Verizon invaded every aspect of life.

I remember being in middle school and listening to Alanis Morissette’s album Jagged Little Pill. Her frustration and heartbreak, especially on the hidden track, spoke to middle school me in a way I didn’t yet understand.

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But Alanis was only the beginning.  As I listened to this station, I recognized, as an adult, how different their messages were and how they’d resounded with me throughout my life.  From Paula Cole’s disillusionment with her husband in “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” to Tracy Chapman’s disappointment and longing in “Fast Car”, I grew up with a diet of women challenging the status quo and demanding something better.

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Jewel taught me to get indignant when I was being taken for granted, “Well excuse me, guess I’ve mistaken you for somebody else.  Somebody who gave a damn. Somebody more like myself.”

Sheryl Crow taught me that “everyday was a winding road” and to keep on trying.

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Melissa Ethridge taught me that sometimes folks need to be reminded of how damned awesome I can be in “I’m the Only One.”

Natalie Merchant’s album Tigerlily was one repeat as soon as I bought the CD.  She taught me about love and loss in “My Beloved Wife” and that sometimes I am just beyond common understandings and destined for more in “Wonder.”

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Meredith Brooks taught me that I don’t always have to be predictable and that it was ok to be a mixed bag in her song “Bitch.”

I remember when Sarah McLaughlin’s song “Angel” wasn’t associated with animals needing help OR Nicolas Cage!

The Spice Girls taught me all about friendship.

TLC taught me all about self love right as I headed off to college.

 

So yeah, the 90’s weren’t without their issues.  We had drug epidemics, race riots, and wished “Peace in the Middle East” to one another in our 5th grade classes.  But the music?  It was one of the things that I was lucky to have.  And I can see on my station where those women paved the way for others, and I welcome them to my Lilith Fair station.  They’re in it and fit in nicely with their 90’s sisters.

Related posts and blogs:

The women’s music book, she lives!

Myths about women’s music and culture: they shoot men at women’s festivals, right?

Building a Mystery by Judith Fitzgerald

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Empty Bobbins: The Renn Faire Carney

So I love going to the Georgia Renaissance Festival.  It’s always fun, and I find some super cool bags and jewelry.  This post is about one not-so-pleasant episode years ago.  That being said, I’ve gone back just about every year and always have a blast.  This year was no exception.  But while there, my husband and I were reminded of this story and entertained our friends in the re-telling of it.  I thought I’d share with you all as well.  Here’s another “empty bobbin” moment for you.

Empty bobbins are moments in life where we pause and reflect.  It’s like when your bobbin runs out in the middle of a project, and you have to pause everything you’re doing to reload.


This incident took place about seven years ago when our daughter was about 6 months old.  We went to the Renaissance Faire in Fairburn, Georgia, and it was a hot day already.  It was also crowded. My husband pushed the stroller over the Georgia red clay of the parking lot as well as the gravel and on in to the actual fair.  Once we were in, I took over the stroller duty, and we looked in the different booths as we strolled.

My husband is 6’1”, and I’m 5’ 5.5” (yes, the .5 is important), so it’s easy to understand he’ll often outpace me without realizing it.  I rounded a corner, still pushing the stroller, and a lady sitting in the front of a booth to my right called a guy’s name and pointed to the stroller.

I’ll take a time out and comment that it actually wasn’t unusual for folks to point at my daughter while we’re out.  She had a large dose of my husband’s Nordic ancestry, and her big blue eyes and fair skin get her a lot of compliments.  (She was still bald at 6 months, so her curly blonde hair would come later.)

So the lady pointing to the stroller didn’t really strike me as odd.  After all, the Renn Faire folks are supposed to interact with the guests, and they’ll say all sorts of silly things in an effort to interact.  Going back to the pointing lady in the booth, I looked over to whomever she called, and a guy working the strength test booth, the one with the mallet and the bell, started walking towards me.  He was tall and not exactly fit.  He had long, stringy black hair that went to his waist tied behind him in a low-set ponytail and a goatee.  He was so tall that it only took a few strides to bring him even with me.  As he stopped beside me, he put his pointer finger on the stroller and said, “Stop” somewhat haughtily.

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My thought was something along the lines of Okay, not the most polite way to start a conversation, but I’ll play along.  What’s funny is that the Renn Faire carnies are the thing my husband likes the least about the Renaissance Faire.  I decided to play along in the spirit of the Renn Faire, so I stopped walking and called out to my husband who had accidentally outpaced us, although we were both so engrossed in the booths that we hadn’t noticed.  He turned around, and the man with the ponytail beside me raised his arm and hand towards my husband and crooked his finger at him in the “come here” signal.  Again, I’m thinking Not exactly polite.

I’ll take another time out to describe a peculiar trait of my husband’s appearance.  He has a beard. Not a little, scruffy thing.  No.  It’s a nice, full, Bob Villa, Viking beard.  I love it.  And when he’s angry, he bites his bottom lip, making the part of his beard below his bottom lip stick out.  I refer to it as his “mad flag.”  And when it goes up, you need to back the hell down.

At the sight of this tall, ponytailed man condescendingly signaling him to come to him, I could see from my position several yards away a distant mad flag signaling a warning.  In the spirit of Renn Faire, my husband simply replied, “No thank you.”  Whew, he chose the path of politeness.  We could go.

Nope.

The man beckoned again, and I looked up to my husband somewhat helplessly.  Whatever Ponytail had to say had better be feckin’ hilarious, but it wasn’t off to a promising start.  In the spirit of Renn Faire – my husband walked over.  He didn’t even have time to stop when the guy uttered what would become a family saying for years.

“SHE carried the baby for nine months; the least YOU can do is push the stroller.”

How judgmental could you get?  The implications in such a simple statement!  In one comment, he’d managed to question both the role of father AND husband.  This guy had no idea who we were as a family.  For all he knew, my husband could have been suffering from some arthritis incurred from injuries he received from an IED from his days in the service.  I could have been trying to get some resistance training in as part of my triathlon conditioning.  This man only knew what he saw – me pushing a stroller.  He, who probably had neither wife nor child, had decided to take it upon himself to be the Georgia Renaissance Faire Stroller Nazi, and we were a prime target.  Except we weren’t.  I was married to a Viking descendant.  Oh. Shit.  At that point, I knew the next move I had to make was in the best interest of everyone.  All I could see was my husband’s future mug shot, a bail amount we didn’t possess, and a court date we didn’t have time for.

Nope. Nope. Nope.

I muttered, “Oh, he pushes.  He does,” and I started walking, pushing that stroller as fast as I could without outright running.  I passed my husband in a few steps, and his gait had definitely increased in vigor as he was approaching Ponytail, mad flag at full mast.  I whispered as I passed him, “Let it go.”  (Long before Frozen, mind you.)  And I kept walking and didn’t look back.  Somehow, I was hoping an invisible tether between myself, him, and our infant daughter would pull him along, and he would forsake sacking and pillaging Ponytail and his Test of Strength booth.  After a few moments, when I didn’t hear the sound of bludgeoning, I turned around to see him following me, red faced and furious.  Whew, it had worked.  He hadn’t hit him with his own booth mallet.

Unfortunately, the Renn Faire is in a circle, and my husband’s hackles were definitely up as he spied him through the fair exit.  I mentioned something about bail money, and we managed to leave the fair without physical altercation.

I’ll add the disclaimer that the vast majority of folks who work a Renn Faire are really stand up people and fun to be around. This experience reflects our episode with one D-bag.

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One good thing that came out of the trip was my daughter discovering the joy of dill pickles.

Related blogs and posts:

Scarborough Renaissance Festival

8 Reasons to Love the Georgia Renaissance Festival

Georgia Renaissance Festival