Saturday, November 13, 2010

What? No turkey leg!

“Renaissance Festival First”

Up until last Sunday afternoon, I had never been to the Texas Renaissance Festival. And you wanna know something? I didn’t feel all that bad about it.

I’ve heard the stories. A lot of oddly dressed people, a lot of weird food and a lot of silly people who shake the porta-potty while you’re in there. I don’t care for stuff like that. I don’t need stuff like that.

For years no one cared one way or the other about my snub of The Festival… not until there was Brad. Whatta goob. For whatever reason, Montgomery County food critic Brad Meyer took my non-fan Ren Fes as a challenge. He was bound and determined to drag my buns through history, all the way back to a really bad time. Said we could critique the food. That there were no porta-potties during the Renaissance, nor were there any at the Festival. They had real restrooms. He had me at no-porta.

So, Sunday afternoon I find myself entering the media office at the RF. Brad’s got his press pass and an expensive camera around his neck. All I have is Brad. He told the lady that I was there to carry his camera while he was enjoying the rides. She thought it sweet.

I got an official visitor’s pass (saved me 20 bucks) and free program. Unfortunately, I lost the program somewhere during the walk across the 53-acre theme park. I think a wench lifted it from me during an accidental head-on. One of us wasn’t watching where he was going. Entirely too much cleavage out there.

Turns out I didn’t need a program. Brad knows everything that is Renaissance. We first caught Ded Bob’s program. No typo. He’s really Ded. He’s a skeleton puppet carried and operated by a guy named Smuj who had his face covered. If you put a bag over my head, I, too, could be a ventriloquist. As long as the puppet’s mouth didn’t have to match my words. That might be tough.

Ded Bob and Smuj

Ded was crude. And, funny. Not so much to me, but to everybody else in the audience. I apparently misplaced my laugh. I sometimes do that at awkward moments. Not the audience, though. You’d think they were one of those paid infomercial audiences. Really got into the presentation. They’d laugh at everything and do anything the puppet asked ‘em to. If he told people to scream “Rubber nails!” They’d scream it. Beat all I ever saw. I’d attempt a stand-up routine if I had half as good an audience.

I don’t know how much Ded and Smuj change the routine from year to year… nor am I likely to ever know.

Midway through the puppet routine we walked over to the jousting arena. I’ve always wanted to see a joust. Two guys on horseback at full gallop, trying to dislodge one another with giant spears. How could anyone survive such a spectacle? I didn’t get to find out, because we stopped between performances. The arena was already beginning to fill, but I don’t wait well. Don’t know if you knew that about me.

If you’re not watching a show, there’s plenty to do out there. They’ve got rides galore. While I was tempted to try out Leonardo's Catapult, I was too afraid that Brad might snap a picture of me. Not too many pictures out there of me crying, and I’d like to keep it that way.

The giant swings looked like fun. They’ve got the King’s Swings and Neptune’s Swing and Friar’s Frolic. That last one might involve a swing. I’m not sure. They’ve also got Pluck-A-Duck and Drench-A-Wench. I’m telling you, women get no respect at the Ren Fes.

If you don’t care for rides or the performances, you might enjoy just watching people. There are all kinds. I saw a 9-foot tall werewolf. A bunch of vampires. The towering ogre guy was there. Big ol’ Ogre. Lord of the Rings big.

You could toss a rock in any direction and likely hit a damsel or knight. Plenty of those out there. And, it was Halloween day, so there were also a lot of non-Renaissance looking people. I saw the Super Mario brothers and a Jedi Knight and maybe Daffy Duck. It was hard to tell. Brad even got a transvestite nurse to cozy up to me while I was eating my seafood platter. Snapped a picture he did. A ton of laughs this man.

Yes, I said seafood platter. I’m an idiot. Go to the Ren Fes and order the seafood. I let the price sway me. It was $6.50 for a couple of pieces of fish and some shrimp and chips. Straight from Sam’s freezer to the heat lamp. Even the seafood damsel couldn’t believe I ordered it. She just stood and stared at me for about three seconds before snapping out of it and handing me the plate.

It was really bad. And to top it off I’m sharing it with a transvestite. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. Fortunately, I also got a roastin’ ear. You can’t mess up corn. This was some good stuff. I had it all over me. And, I wasn’t sharing.

Brad got a turkey leg. He figured one of us had to. A leg goes for seven pounds. That’s what they call their dollars. Pounds. I get it. I asked Brad how the leg was and he said, “It’s a turkey leg!” And, that’s coming from our food critic.

I’ve got to tell you, though, there is an awful lot of food out there. Some desserts that could practically call your name. “Mark. Ooooh, Maaaark.” That was a pecan pie looking thing with a giant heap of ice cream on it. If it had come up with my last name, I would’ve bought it.

Oh, and did I mention the shops. Art, jewelry, clothing, headwear, axeware, swordfare, silverware… A million shops. Maybe a billion.

I’ll bet I only saw a tenth of what all they have out there. Too much stuff. But, all good things must come to an end. And, so did my visit to the Renaissance Festival. We checked out at the Media office where we got a couple of gifts. Brad got some kind of sandwich coupon for dancing a jig. Oh, the humanity. I only had to speak in a British accent to get my dessert coupon.

Brad's Turkey leg

We got home before dark. The experience wasn’t nearly as painful as I imagined. Were I a few decades younger, I would’ve probably had fun. But, all in all, I actually feel relieved to no longer be among the ranks of those who have never been to the Ren Fes. I recommend that those of you remaining on the list try to steer clear of Brad. What I’m sayin’?

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