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11 July 2005 @ 09:56 pm
"Watch the tram car, please."  
Ah, Wildwood!

It all began Friday morning. 5:30 Friday morning, to be exact. Though I’d packed the night before (regular clothing, toiletries, costume pieces, instruments, etc.), we needed to be on the road to Karen’s by 6:15. We got to her place (our old apartment) at 7:30 and shifted everything to her enormous honkin’ SUV. Yes, I am anti-SUV - save when they are necessary. In this case, we needed space for all of our stuff as well as the three of us. We made it down to Wildwood in about three and a half hours.

First stop was the hotel. It was an intimate place. When I say intimate, I mean small. Our room held two almost-double sized beds, a dresser, and a small fridge. The bathroom was accessible by sliding past the far double bed and opening the door as far as it would go before it hit mattress. There was a shower with a cracked head and controls about a foot up from the floor, a sink and a toilet. There was also a window that opened onto an alley. Most of the rooms were laid out in a similar manner. Four people slept in each. I am told that they go for $250/night. Some rooms had outlets that didn’t work, burned out lights, a microwave that was nowhere near an outlet… There was a teeny pool, though, and a patio area a few steps above that. A balcony ran the length of the second floor, and chairs were set out between the first floor doors. There: you have the lay of the hotel land.

After dropping our bags onto one of the almost double sized beds, Don and I went with Karen, Chris and Nick to the Convention Center. It was only a couple of blocks away. Very convenient. I got to see a bit of the Boardwalk (fun, in a cheesy sort of way) as we wandered along in search of lunch. Did you know that there are over 70,000 planks in the Wildwood Boardwalk. So says the ‘Snapple’ fact on one of the many posters along the way.


The horses were installed under the back of the building beneath the terrace. There was a long strip of sand where, when the other jousters arrived, we ran the jitters out of the ponies. Oso was very uncertain. His head was high, neck arched, and he kept whuffing out through his nostrils. When he saw the roller coaster in the distance, he stopped short. Ditto the first time he saw the tram car, and the ocean. The only time he gave me any trouble, though, was when the horses in front of us were racing. He wanted to run. I wanted stumble-footed big horse to take it easy. He shook his head, ducked it down, bucked out a bit. It set the tone for horse behaviour for the weekend.

The Faire site was next to the Convention Center, down the boardwalk stairs and on the sand. The joust field was soup; it had rained heavily nearly the entire day. Tents were knocked flat, hay bales soaked, and several port-a-potties were washed away to sea. Truly. Keeping fingers crossed that the worst of the weather was past, the Wildwood crew started putting everything back together.

Back to the hotel for dinner (sandwiches from a nearby deli) and an hour-long CP rehearsal. Then it was beer, chatting with various folks on the lower porch and the balcony, then bed.

Four to a room was tight, especially when one of those four had to be up at 6:30 to shower and get things packed up for an 8:00 joust rehearsal. We couldn’t do it the day before due to the poor field conditions. Sadly, the field wasn’t much better on Saturday. They brought the grader in, which helped a bit, but it wasn’t until late Saturday that the sand was really workable. That morning we just had to be careful of the horses’ footing. Footing aside, Dante was not a happy horse. Seems he isn’t all that crazy about the ocean. Every time he came into the stage left pocket, he shied, spun, and reared. He even tossed Lewis once; thankfully, there were no injuries.

Everyone gathered in our makeshift greenroom for 9:30 notes. It was beyond chaotic. The costumers had labeled everyone’s clothing, but somehow things got left behind. The Sheriff’s boots and hat made it, but nothing else. Fortunately, the costumers had also brought bins of extra costume pieces.

Prior to the 11 a.m. opening, we were all required to participate in a parade down the Boardwalk. The performers were transported to the beginning spot via trolleys; Beulah the lovely draft horse was walked up from the Convention Center. They stopped the tram cars during our procession. Lionel made up for it by shouting, “Watch the parade, please” in lieu of the incessant tram car announcements. For those who have never been to Wildwood, I shall explain. There are tram cars that run continually up and down the boardwalk. A prerecorded announcement sounds at ridiculously close intervals: “Watch the tram car, please.” Over. And over. And over and over and over. They even have a toy tram car you can purchase which, for verisimilitude, includes a recording of the recording. Worst. Souvenir. Ever. So much so that it transcends to thoroughly delightful.

Anyway, parade over, we tramped across the sand to the backstage area – which, it turns out, wasn’t really much of a backstage area. There was a small tent to provide some shade, but no walls or barrier of any sort to keep the public out. Sound equipment, weapons, personal belongings, armor, the birds from the falconry show – all were unprotected. And that was the first WTF? of the day. That was semi-solved by always having someone back there. Not much else we could do.

It was a warm day, but a near constant breeze of the ocean helped cool things a bit. Less easy to deal with was the glare. Ye gods, but it was brutal. Oh, and the second WTF? of the day: No water. Chris had brought the Faire's coolers, and filled them at the Convention Center. Shame the water was damned near undrinkable – it tasted of chemicals and garden hose. Many of us bought several bottles during the day. At two dollars a pop, ‘twas not cheap.

As for the schedule of the day, I had three CP sets (had to miss the other two), two wench sets, pub sing, chess game, Meet Robin Hood, and two jousts. CP sets went fairly well. I found that I can not sing ‘Jock Stewart’ without the musical interlude; fecking muscle memory. Everyone had false starts or dance breaks or moments of loopiness. It didn’t matter. It was still a fair bit of fun, and nice to be singing all those shanties and traditional tunes within sight of the ocean. Wench sets were good; we did the new Guard song both days. There’s an excellent chance we’ll have it down by the time we open our own Faire. heh.

Joust 1 on Saturday suuuuuuuucked. Oso was decidedly unhappy when we rode out past the speakers on the stage; they were at the very edge, and exceedingly loud. He hated that. I can’t blame him. My own ears are far less sensitive, and I was cringing, too. My games weren’t all that good (though having rings tossed directly at my face didn’t help. Then, I couldn’t hit a damned thing in passes. I had all solids, of which I am hesitant (more with the suck) but that is no excuse. I don’t belong on that field if I can’t do the job. Gorramit.

Joust 2 was better… much much much better. Funny, though: we lifted last year’s second joust to do for the Wildwood Faire. There’s a heap of dialogue at the beginning about how the Sheriff has accused Marian of infidelity and adultery and blah blah blah, and how Marian has chosen to fight for her honor. Lewis later asked me if I’d had the same thought as him: “Uh… when did this happen?”

Oh, well. I doubt the audience much cared. The passes were good. Oso was running hot, but since he was listening to me I didn’t much care. Lewis slammed me in one of our passes, so much so that the hook on my shield didn’t just bruise my arm, it abraded it. All hail melkorspawn, who had arnica with him. Even so, the bruise is rather pretty.

Since the show ended so late (final joust began at 7!!!!! and Pub Sing after that), we waddled back to the hotel, bought beer and ordered a pizza. The wee pool was full of actors. I couldn’t resist. I do not own a bathing suit (can you say “psoriasis bites the big one”?), but I put on a pair of boxers and a tank top (even this was hard for me, despite the dark, because of the patches on my legs) and jumped. Only I forgot that the boxers were big on me before they were wet. They didn’t actually fall off, so no bad there. The quick dip was blissful. Pizza arrived shortly thereafter. It was astoundingly good. Hunger, as they say, is the best sauce.

It was another night of hanging out, drinking cold beer and moving about from group to group. Really, it was one of the best parts of doing this show. What a feeling of community and camaraderie and no little bit of college life all over again.

Sunday began a bit later; I didn’t have to be on a horse at 8 a.m. Check-out was that morning, so we packed up all our things before heading over to the Boardwalk. It was a good ten degrees hotter. By the time we finished the morning parade, my shirt was soaked and my tights were well on their way. The day progressed as expected. The crowds, as on the first day, were rather small. That is the norm for a first year faire.

The Chess Game was notable in that it was likely the last time I will ever fight ckbh. Tears are pricking at my eyes as I type this. Sweetling, you have been a joy to work with. I am honored and blessed to have worked with you as a colleague, a partner and a friend. Love you. The other noteworthy aspect is that Hood was just a bit insane. Now, I was down after the first joust – I’ll tell you why in a moment – and, when he saw how it made me laugh, Hood kept shouting “Wooooooooooo!” at inappropriate moments. Once, he leaned over and whispered it in my ear. I was gone. I love the folks I work with!

So. Joust 1. Nick had a good run on Boo. Then Jeff went – long story short, the saddle slipped and Smoke bucked and veered and off went Jeff, smashing down onto his shoulder. And EMT was (finally) found and Jeff was taken to the hospital to be checked out. We reworked the passes on the fly. And, again, I missed every hit. I came off the field, swallowing angry and frustrated tears, seriously considering hanging up my armor. I KNOW I’m in my head about solid hits. So frelling what. I should be better than that. I will be better than that. I have to. Anyway, Kel got me out of armor and my stomach finally settled enough that I was able to eat a piece of pizza and plan mischief with the leftover crust. Said mischief never came to fruition. Apologies to Sheriff’s Guard Ferret, who was so eager for me to put that plan into action.

This is a good time to mention how amazing the actor playing Ferret is. He has boundless energy, talent and enthusiasm, and is just a lovely person. All of the guards are doing phenomenal work. Woo-hoo, the lot of them!

Meet Robin Hood was as quiet as the day prior. We were on a stage so isolated and lonely that we expected to see tumbleweeds rolling by. Hood was, again, a bit insane. It may have been the sugar from the Sno-Cones, but whatever the case, I laughed myself sore.

Joust 2 was a bit of a problem. With Jeff gone, we had to work something out. New Guy Jouster was there, helping out on the field (he was already filling in for the ground fight). We asked if he felt ready to step in. He said “Yes.” And so he did, and did a very nice job. We changed the structure of the show a wee bit, but it was smooth and hits were good. Again, hot running Oso (I hope he does this all season!) who listened enough to let Lewis CB me before the final fight.

Now, that was very likely the last time I will ever joust Lewis. He came back stage, spurs dangling from his fingers, and said, “Where do I hang these up?” It was only through amazing force of will I did not burst into tears. I know he’s a lot closer with a lot of other people at the Faire than he is with me. Even so, I admire and respect and adore him, and it has been beyond rewarding to have faced him on the list. Okay. Enough with the sappy.

Final Pub Sing was insane. On request, ‘Seven Nights Drunk’ was brought back to life – three of Kel’s ‘husbands’ were on hand to do it twisted justice. There was a Very Special ‘Ball of Kerrymuir.’ It was Jeff K.’s idea; one of the wenches wrote verses for those of us who were busy doing things like, oh, jousting and fighting. Every single verse’s tag was “Watch the tram car, please.” It was joyous. The very best moment was in the final verse – Jeff’s – wherein that tag was delivered via the Worst Souvenir Ever, held close to a microphone. Then, at the veryvery end, there was a reprise of the ‘Watch the Tram Car Please’ jam. Oh, happiness!

I’ve left out a million and one things: how amazing Three Pints Shy are, how charming a 13 year old boy who – apparently – thought Marian was pretty and cool (eep!), being upstaged by a horse and an inanimate object, making Ann laugh with my skillet arms, realizing anew how fortunate I am in my friends, the beauty of an ocean breeze, receiving a gift of beautiful wooden arrows (which means I can't suck, dammit, 'cause now they'll know which ones are mine!), the animatronic walrus or cat or whatever the hell it was that sounded like Captain Jack, being so hot and cranky and feeling so incredibly guilty for snapping at those who didn’t deserve it, considering- despite my skin- getting a tattoo of my joust shield, free turkey legs, the long drive home, the lack of sleep since…



I’m going to go soak away the worst of the bruises and soreness and ever present sand. Anything else will have to wait for another day.
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I feel: draineddrained
 
 
 
wench18wench18 on July 11th, 2005 07:57 pm (UTC)
I wanted to tell you on Saturday, but I never saw you except at a distance. There was a family watching the joust that I was standing near. Grandmom. Mom. Guy. Little Daughter. All the adults are watching the joust. LIttle daughter, not so thrilled. Whatever. Ho hum. Guys with sticks. Horses were cool...but just guys with sticks. So I lean over...I point at you backstage waiting to enter the arena on your horse. She stared...climbed up on top of the table, stared, then she looked at me in askance. "Yep" says I. "That's Maid Marian, jousting for herself." She was THRILLED. Crying out for you to win. "Beat the Boys!!!!" THRILLED. She wants to grow up to be a female jouster now.

Kel: BoyBlueladyjoust on July 11th, 2005 08:00 pm (UTC)
That makes it all worth it. Truly. I really, really mean that. (and oh, I hope this was at the second joust, 'cause I tanked the first)

But I must stamp my foot and make the grumpy bug noise: how the frell did I miss seeing you?
wench18wench18 on July 11th, 2005 08:11 pm (UTC)
She was so happy after finding you on a horse among all the boy-os!

You were BUSY very very BUSY. I saw Don very briefly. Lionel and I ran into each other several times. I was just there, hanging out. I came for the day as I only live over the bridge in DE. I am sorry I missed you!!!
(no subject) - trongersoll on July 12th, 2005 04:58 am (UTC) (Expand)
Kel: warrior womanladyjoust on July 12th, 2005 06:55 pm (UTC)
Animals aren't allowed on the beach. Apparently it was a huge deal to get permission for them to be on the Faire grounds; the Powers that Be weren't going to allow them anywhere near the ocean.

Just as well, I think. Even at a distance, Oso wasn't terribly easy with the ocean.
Phoenix Risingmynock25 on July 12th, 2005 07:40 pm (UTC)
Damn I'm sorry I missed this. Thank you for the recap.