And really, they don’t make folks much stranger than us Rennies.
A funny thing happened on the way to the Faire. (Isn’t that a play??) Okay, all joking aside, every job has funny stories. I think maybe we Ren folk seem to get more than our “Faire” share because we a) are weirdos who live on the fringe of society ourselves for the most part b) interact with many folks who are also a bit on the fringe, and therefore, have unusual and varied interests, and c) we run into a LOT more people in an average year than most folks. (I recently did some SWAG math – scientific wild assed guessing – whereupon I added the lowest average gate counts for each faire that I do in a year, and took 25% or that number, based on the assumption that only 25% of the folks at the faire will make it my shop to look around, and then multiplied that number by 90%, assuming that 10% of the folks I meet are return customers, and therefore, not really new acquaintances. If my math is even mostly right, I meet over 25,000 people at faires annually.
So I’ve heard lots of stories from interacting with lots of folks, and living lots of places, albeit temporarily.
Here’s two of my favorite “Tales from the Ren Road.” (Both are written in the first person for readability.)
One of the goals of being on the Ren Faire circuit is to have a snarky or funny reply to anything a patron can throw at you. It’s part of the charm of the Faire – we’re allowed to (within reason) poke fun at patrons and give a little of what-for. A prime example is the pickle seller, who is typically a guy, and who typically delivers lines like, ”Hey Mister… want to slip your girl a pickle in public?” or my personal favorite, “Bigger than your man and really cheap!” Yes, it’s naughty, but seriously, have you EVER read Chaucer? Pretty earthy stuff, really.
The Tale of Two Pickles
There were a couple of very loud homophobic frat boy types who were generally acting like asses, and working their way down through my section of the show. The pickle guy (see the references above) heard them coming, heard them calling each other “faggot” and played it straight for a few minutes while they approached. One of the guys who was both the biggest and loudest of the bunch decided to buy a pickle, and, after taking the guy’s money, and handing him his pickle, the pickle seller let loose. He looks at the guy, and says in his biggest, most booming voice, “Dude, I picked out the biggest, saltiest pickle I could for you, and I think it’s admirable that you’re eating such a huge pickle in public.” And when they start to look confusedly at each other, he asks another of the group if they’d like to slip any of their homies a pickle in public. By this time enough interest from passers-by had been stirred that the frat boys just kind of shoved their hands into their pockets and walked away. It was clear that one or two of them wanted to say or do something, but it was also clear that they recognized that any response on their part would be verbally parried by the pickle seller.
A Witch’s Credentials
So one day at Faire, this guy comes up to me while I’m eating an apple. He’s a real boorish type with probably half a beer too much in him (cause his volume control is gone), and he yells at me, “Didja buy that apple from a witch?” I follow Wicca (and would be considered a witch by a lot of people)… I mean, had the guy bothered to look in my booth, it’s pretty clear that many of my items are Pagan friendly. Luck was on my side, as I don’t always think quickly on my feet, and I bellowed back to him, “Sir, I was shopping for produce, not asking for credentials.”