The Faire-y Files: Borrowed Buggies

3 07 2017

If I ever get around to actually publishing a book or something, a lot of my material comes to me straight out of the mouths of… well… my customers, the world around me, um, frankly EVERYONE. I find lots of what people say strange and hilarious (maybe that’s just the way my artist’s brain takes in the world around me.) But I feel like the bar is higher for this particular blog post because:  (1) last month my BFF and I were doing our usual “running my booth together thing” at the TN Faire. We were told by several people this year, “Hey, no kiddin’ – we stop here every year because you two are the funniest act at this Faire.” Considering there are stage acts at that show (and every other Ren Faire in the world) who specialize in humor? Ya. Bar feels high. (2) There is now a published author who reads my blog.  EEEEEK. (Hi Laura.) (3) I haven’t blogged a Faire-y Tale story in a year and I feel rusty.  It’s hard to explain the absurdity of my world, and my weird job to people who go to my day job for their “day-cations“.  So “once more into the breach” and all that happy greeting card crap, right? (4) Someone informed me that one of my blog articles cost them a keyboard because of sprayed coffee while laughing… I mean, I don’t want to be a record holding keyboard mangler, but that compliment alone was… intense. Maybe the world views me just as funny as I view it.

I was driving home from Faire late one Sunday night about six years ago, in a borrowed car that I was trying to purchase. The seller was being a bit slow with paperwork, and although I didn’t like the idea of borrowing a car for interstate travel before I owned it, it was one of those things that was really unavoidable that weekend in particular.  I also had my mutt, Guinness with me.


He’s part Wookie, part Ewok, and basically my funny little sidekick with genius comedic timing.  At the time, he didn’t have a seatbelt.  He had a 6 gallon milk crate that I inherited at a garage sale, and Ren-gineered into his car seat. (“Ren-gineered” being a term that means a Rennie made it with materials that have no right being used in the manner they are, and that said Rennie probably got all of their engineering experience from having dated an engineer at one time. And yet, often the constructed object in question generally works fine.)

This day (which shall now live in infamy forever) is the reason Guinness now has a doggie seatbelt (visible in the photo above) that clips into the back of his harness. Well, that, and I don’t want him hitting a windshield at mumblety-thump mph if I get in a wreck.

I drove home that night in my garb, because Faire ran late, and it was about a 4-5 hour drive home. I had to stop for gas on the way, and, as per my usual, stuck my cell phone into the top of my corset out of habit.  (Many thanks to David Vail for the amazing photo below.)

As I was pumping my gas, Guinness leapt over onto the driver’s seat to scope out why we’ve stopped.  And stepped firmly on the auto-lock button.  Now, to recap: Borrowed car, so title, registration, etc are all not in my name.  Spare key with the owner, about 3 hours/200 miles away. No AAA.  And the gas station was closing in 45 minutes (it’s was a Sunday night in the middle-of-nowhere).

I said a string of Very Naughty Words and asked the gas station attendant if perhaps, they had a slim-jim door unlocker thinger behind the counter. He did not.  I received inept help from a lovely passerby with a coat hanger and mansplaining tendencies. After he left, I now had scratches on the door of the borrowed car.  With no other options I could think of, and with it getting later by the minute, I called 911.

“Hi, I am super sorry to be calling.  I understand that my emergency is low priority, but my dog just locked himself in my car at a gas station, and I’m 200 miles from home.  Is there an officer in the area not busy doing real police work tonight that could pop my lock?” (Now, I don’t recommend this course of action.  Seriously, if I had had ANY OTHER OPTION… I wouldn’t have called them.  But apparently a “live animal in a locked car” is an actual – if Very Low Level – emergency.)

92 minutes later, Officer Friendly (O.F.) shows up.  I try really really hard not to judge people on appearances, but to say this gent probably could’ve attended Woodstock as a late-blooming college student, with a physique that would make it impossible to chase down anyone on foot (even me, and I’m lucky to run a 10 minute mile at my best) would be visually accurate. And I’ve already mentioned how my brain works – I filter a high proportion of what I say… typically. But when you stir in exhaustion from a busy work weekend dealing with hundreds if not thousands of people, a long drive made longer by my own damn stupidity, and concern for my dog?… The force required for holding back snarky comments delivered a la Wednesday Addams deadpan with a smoky jazz lounge singer’s voice was EPIC.

O.F.: Examining my outfit from top to bottom, pausing long enough at my cleavage to be inappropriate, despite the fact that said cleavage is reasonably but decently displayed because ELIZABETHAN CORSET. “Your dog lock himself in the car, huh?”

Me: Yes, sirDude, dispatch had to have told you that.  And you can see my freaking idiot dog bouncing up and down in the driver’s seat in anticipation of meeting someone new.

O.F.: May I see your license ma’am?

Me: It’s in my wallet, sir, (points to purse, sitting Very Evidently on middle seat, inside locked vehicle.) 

O.F.: Where were you headed tonight?

Me: sigh. Didn’t dispatch ALSO tell you this? Home, sir.  Akron area. Ohio. I still have about 2.5 hours of driving ahead of me.  (hint hint… can we get this show on the road already, please?)

O.F.: Well, lemme get my fjdskalfdsg. (unintelligible, yet probably proper name for slim-jim door unlocker thingy aka the SJDUT.)

He walks back to the car with his SJDUT.  Pauses at the sight of Guinness, who has started licking the freaking window in abject joy that the new person is almost within reach of meeting.

O.F.: Is he friendly? 

Me: Yes, sir. He’s 21 lbs on his best day sir, I think even you could probably take him… have you really met a quantity of mean dogs who lick and paw at windows with their tails wagging at a rate of “supersonic” when they spot you?

O.F.: Pausing, with the SJDUT in hand. You know you should grab your keys when you stop for gas.

Me: thank you, Captain Obvious. Yes sir.  I’m in the process of buying this car from a friend, sir.  I’ve never driven one with auto-locks before but I guarantee I will remember that in future sir.  

O.F.: You know the SJDUT may damage the door, right? 

Me: Yes, sir, but since the spare is with the friend in question, that leaves me with no choice.

He works on the door for a minute, pauses, and asks, “Where’s the friend live?”

Me: Sigh. Ohio, Sir, as the license plate will confirm.  And so you’re aware, the registration will of course match her name, not mine.  But I have my insurance card in my wallet if you need that for your notes, sir.  Please just open the dang door.

He jimmies the door, Guinness greets him with more kisses than the Pope’s ring has seen in a decade.

O.F.: He’s sure a friendly little thing, isn’t he.

Me: Yes, sir. Thank you sir.  Guinness, kennel.  (“Kennel” being the command that means “Get your ass into your milk crate on the passenger seat because you’re overdoing the greeting.”)

O.F.: Well behaved little dog too.

Me: Thank you sir.  Grabbing my keys from the ignition, and pulling out my license. Did you need the registration too, sir? I’ll need to grab that from the glove box. 

O.F.: Yes ma’am.

Me: leaning over Guinness to grab the registration and receiving a barrage of kisses myself. Here, sir.

Eons pass, wars are won, and novels are written while he examines my license and my friend’s registration Very Carefully before handing both back.

O.F.: … no actual words come forth, but he seems to be… waiting for something.  

Me: looking at the time on my cell phone which I’ve plucked out of my corset while O.F. was examining my paperwork, and realize I’ve been stuck at this gas station for nearly 2 hours. Thank you very much for unlocking my car, sir. Am I free to go sir? I’ve got a goodly bit of driving left tonight. 

O.F.: He makes another visual appraisal of me, this time pausing at my cleavage long enough that even Guinness takes notice that Time Has Stopped again.  Just one more question before you go ma’am…  – are you Amish?

Me: Closes eyes, takes deep breath. For the hairy love of Oedipus. Amish people don’t drive cars, SIR. Mennonites drive cars, and I hope for the safety and well-being of the local Amish community here, you are not dispatched any time that actual knowledge of said community is required.  At minimum, you’ll be on their prayer list.  And I don’t want them to think that you are representative of our “English ways” No, sir.  I work at a medieval theme park. 17th century? Queen Elizabeth? These are my work clothes.  

O.F.: …. blank stare wherein it’s clear he’s never heard of either the 17th century or Queen Elizabeth, although the stare breaks long enough for him to do another – although this time blessedly quick – visual sweep of my garb. Drive safely ma’am. He gestures in a way that makes it clear I’m free to go.

The End… but in the way of Disney movies, here’s the Easter egg scene:

So I’m retelling this over breakfast at the KY Ren Faire to much laughter, and get to the “Are you Amish” punchline, and T (a tall, voluptuous, and brassy lady who very much speaks her mind) pipes up, “You TOTALLY should have struck a pose and told him you work in Amish porn.” So I lower my voice from “smoky” to “come hither”, cock my eyebrows at the breakfast table crowd and say, “I work in Amish porn…” The table explodes in laughter over and over, with mass giggles and people holding their stomachs from laughing too hard, and then, because “the more you know…”

Fierce googling ensues to discover whether or not Amish porn exists…