Used to be a ‘new’ Jersey Girl   : now A Colorado Girl

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wench for A Day

I’m certain you are beginning to wonder about me. And after you’ve read this post I am most certain that you will verily and truly wonder about me. I haven’t posted much in a long time. Mostly because I’ve not felt the need to write, and partly due to the lack of things to write about. I’m sure you get as bored as I do about my excessive rants and raves about daily life. So be forewarned, my friend, as this night I have a long tale to tell.

This fine tale is about a bizarre trip into the past. The Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, New York to be exact, which is only about 30 minutes from our house. I have long been fascinated by this part of history. I’ve read many books that take place during this period of history, and at times, I think I may have even lived before in that frame. It just feels right. Okay, I’m scaring you off. Fine, go. Whatever. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part. Rick and I and intended to go to the Faire a few weeks past [or is that a fortnight ago] but other things intervened. When my good friend Carolyn said she was coming to visit while Rick was on an international trip, I thought it would be the perfect time to see just what all this was about.

Let it be said that I like to dress up and play character roles. No, quit thinking kinky stuff!! NOT the ‘spank, spank, you’ve been a bad boy to nursie’ kind of stuff. Stop it now! We used to do How to Host A Murder Mystery dinner parties with friends and it was then that I realized my love for play-acting and role playing. Given the right costume I became that person, if only for a few hours. In fact, one time I found out that I was the murderer and I played my role so well that no one guessed it was me. It’s great fun to dress up in character and become someone else for a while.

I knew people dressed the part for this kind of thing, yet I didn’t really have anything in my wardrobe that was entirely suitable. I had a handkerchief skirt that was brown that would work as far as the bottom half, but nothing really suitable for the top half. I did the best I could. I even took an old copper belt that was Mom’s and wrapped it around my wrist as a multi-tiered bracelet.

It was quite obvious the minute we stepped through the gates that folks here were quite serious about this Faire. I had imagined maybe 40% of the people would be in period dress. Hmm…more like 85% were decked out in all kinds of finery of the day. They ran the whole gamut from the refined right down the almost “biker chic.” Buxom bosums bounded over bodices [a term I became familiar with a bit later] at every turn. Egads! The bawdiness of it all! WHAT FUN!! We had only walked about a block of the main thoroughfare, and it was quite obvious we’d have to learn the language. Thee, thy & thou; m’lady, good’ay, fare-thee-well and hardly ever a word in English as we know it now was spoken.

One of my goals was to buy a peasant blouse. The first shop we stopped to browse in was presided over by a comely wench whose bosum threatened to spill over her bodice. She asked if I wanted to try on something, telling me it would “lift thy spirits.” Me thinks it was going to do more than lift my spirits  if her spirits were anything to go by! AHEM! I wasn’t quite ready yet. I had planned to just buy a blouse, but it was obvious I needed the vest [or bodice, as they are referred to] to complete the look.

We came upon a rather nice shop with a large selection of garments. All kinds of blouses in every color, chemises, overskirts and of course, bodices. I had a chat with Lady Debbie who would be waiting on me. She looked as stuffed into her bodice as the rest of the women, so I asked her if it was comfortable. ‘Of course,’ she replied, ‘The ribs adjust after a while.’ Geez, that sounded a bit like torture. Did I really want to do this? Yes, sure, why not!?  We started with my brown skirt that I was already wearing. The bodice came next as it would determine the color of my blouse. I fell in love with several tapestry ones, but Lady Debbie wisely steered me away from them as they were quite a bit more expensive than the others. I settled on a teal, rust and brown paisley that reversed to a brown corduroy. We ended up choosing a long sleeved rust colored blouse that complimented both other pieces nicely. I chose an off-shoulder version that was gathered twice before flowing into long sleeves that were cut at the elbow. More dramatic that way, don’t you agree?

Next came the fitting. Firstly, the blouse went on over my skirt and was then pulled off the shoulders. Secondly, the bodice had to be dealt with. There is no way of securing it other than lacing it up. Might I add that the bodice before it is laced, does not meet in the middle of your body. No indeed, it misses by several inches. The lacing is what brings it together. It’s quite a shock at first to be laced into this age-old corset masquerading as a push-up bra. Maybe not quite as dramatic as Scarlett O’Hara holding on with all her might to the bedpost as Mammy tugs on the strings of her corset, but close. After a few minutes it actually begins to feel okay. Good, even. Kind of sexy. Hey, I like this! I was also thinking it was going to do wonders for my posture—no more slouching allowed!

I was having some doubts about where I might wear these garments in today’s world, so Lady Debbie and I talked about the possibilities. Well, she said I could always wear the blouse with jeans, or the bodice without the lacing as a vest [and it did reverse]. But also, she replied slyly, ‘You can always let your Lord and Master help you lace your bodice up, or maybe it would be more fun to have your Lord UN-lace you.’ She had a point there. Poor Lady Debbie had to suffer lacing me in and out of my bodice about three more times as I tried different things. I tried on a chemise [a full length one-piece garment] but didn’t think I’d get any use out of it. [Now I wish I had gone that route and used it to sluff around the house in instead of a bathrobe!] She was cheerful and helpful throughout the whole process. Whilst Carolyn, bless her heart, very patiently waited.

While I was paying for my purchase, one of the other maids attending the shop was musing aloud about how she wondered what had become of ‘Mrs. Titmouse’ that weekend as she had attended every weekend of the Faire since its beginning. The only ‘Titmouse’ I knew of was the bird that frequented my feeder, so I asked her why the lady in question should be called ‘Mrs. Titmouse.’ I was not expecting the answer I was given. ‘Well,’ she began ‘it’s because she carried a tiny stuffed mouse tucked in-betwingst her…er…bosums.’ Okay, you get the idea. I laughed so hard my bodice was pinching me. [Please note: There are many strange folk that attend the Faire, and Mrs. Titmouse must surely be one of them.]

By now I felt the part, and as I walked out of the shop I shed my present day self and became—a wench. I even carried myself differently. [Or was that due to my bodice lacings?] I now blended in with the crowd.

By this time we both needed to eat something so we headed to the nearest “food court.” If you’ve never been to this kind of event before, just think grease and you will have the basis of all the foods available. There is, of course, the inevitable greasy HUGE turkey leg, the onion blossoms, the dragon chips [potato chips where the potato has been peeled in one go like an apple peel and then fried, natch], and foods of like kind. We managed to avoid the grease as Carolyn had a pasta salad and I chose Steak on a Stake [a kebab]. We did, however, have to suffer the folk sharing our table eating all of the above atrocities. I pity thy stomachs upon returning home.

We walked around and partook of all the sights. And believe me, there were plenty. Just to sit and people watch would have been entertainment enough. We found the courtyard where the midday joust was taking place and managed to find a seat on the bleachers in the shade. We clapped and yelled for our favorite knights to be successful. Do we choose by the noble steed they are riding? By their knightly colors? Or by how handsome their countenance? Decisions, decisions. Tough choice. Nice steeds; cute knights. Well, maybe one was a touch too beastly for my delicate tastes. [The knight, not the steed.]

I think we missed many of the goings-on. It’s a very large park and a bit confusing to find your way around to all the different stages and such where events are taking place. We seemed to do a lot of walking around in circles. Next time we’ll know better exactly what we want to see and do. After spending four hours or so in the Renaissance, we decided our poor tired feet had had enough, and we began our journey home.

Alas, I’ve come to the end of this long tale of mine. Reality set in as soon as we got home to a house full of barking dogs and a basement with water in it, complete with many water-logged boxes. [Unbeknownst to myself, My Lord Rick had unplugged the pump to the air conditioner, which we had need of that day, resulting in a mini flood.] SIGH. I felt a twinge of true disappointment as I unlaced my bodice and tossed aside the persona of Lynne the Wench and sadly became Lynne the Dog Mother and Basement Mopper-Upper.

And if I might be so bold as to give you a small piece of advice from my experience? Mayn’t I? Please do think twice before you partake in any kind of shopping, such as shall we say, stopping by the paint store for a can of paint on your journey home? Do change your clothes.

About

Welcome, I'm Lynne. You know me better as a 'new' Jersey Girl. But now I've moved back to my 'home' state and I am living in NoCo (Northern Colorado).This blog will be about my thoughts, good food, and of course, dogs.

© 2006-2018 Lynne Robinson All photography and text on this blog is copyright. For use or reproduction please ask me first.

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