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30 June 2003 @ 07:07 pm
Ouchiness: physical and emotional  
I haven't posted in far too long! I suppose I'll start with the physical 'ouch.' This Saturday past we had a pretty intense joust rehearsal. For a wonder, we had decent weather and we intended to make the most of it. We took the horses to the field at about ten in the morning and warmed them up (well, most of us warmed them up... but I ought not get so grumbly in light of what will follow). After we worked Rusty on the rail a bit, JT gave us a lance hand-off/pickup drill: Gallop down the list, mime a hit, choke up on the lance and then toss it to a waiting squire. Another squire (played by JT) immediately put another in the jouster's hand so that we could literally spin the horse around and be ready to go with NO delay. Pretty darned cool; very polished and efficient. We shall see if it works in the actual show, and make allowances for the breaks (balsa-tipped lances), but in the meantime it's an excellent exercise. Then we did the obstacle course. To put it mildly, I sucked. I had no control over my horse. He would not listen to me and I could not make myself heard. JT got on him later (he was JTs horse for YEARS) and of course Oso ran a flawless course for him. Grumble, Grrr. I might add that, being the perfectionist that I am, I started bitching at myself when I missed targets, or spear pickups, or Oso took turns really wide. Lewis stopped me at one point and just said, very calmly, "Hey. It's rehearsal." Which just made me feel like MORE of an idiot ('cause he was right!), but I sucked it up and finished a miserable run. Ick, Ick, Ick.

Then it was walking the list. This is done on foot with shield and solid lance. You lower your lance at the very end of the list and walk at a normal pace, lance and shield in position, to the far end of same, usually hitting your opponent as you pass. If you're a tough guy, you punch the lance out, miming a hit, with every third step. If you're a majorly tough guy, you punch for two steps and bring your lance around flat to smash into your own shield on the third. I did one walk the 'tough guy' way. I just don't have the wrist strength for the latter. Did I accept this graciously? I did not. Inwardly, I stewed. And I have vowed to be able to do it. I'll take it in steps, to be sure, but it will happen. Then we each did passes with the 'car door' shield (an absurdly heavy joust shield that none of us would EVER use in the show, but it's great for training.) I only did three walks with that, to Lewis' four and Mark's seven.

Then, back up on horses for more rail work with Rusty. Oso gave me a few fantastic runs (he really is giving me more speed, and most willingly... that is a good thing, anyway, as he is usually the lumbering bear he is named for!)but after that I could feel how tired he was. We went back up to the tack house at about 1:30. Lewis finally remembered it was his turn to bring beer (about time! sheesh!) so we sat in the shade, sweat drying and muscles gently aching, and watched the newly-washed horses roll in the dirt, and chatted. Quite delightful. My arm and shoulder muscles are still screaming at me, though, and my lower back is just whinging non-stop. My thigh muscles are better than I expected, though, so yay! Anyway, thus the physical 'ouch.'

Now the emotional 'ouch.' Mark is the newest jouster, having been made a Silver Knight last summer. I won't go into that whole story, 'cause this is approaching novel length already. Suffice it to say it was done with some haste and with some objection of certain knights, but it was pushed through by others. OK. He's not a bad guy. He's not a bad rider and he's not a bad jouster. He's not brilliant, but hey... few are. When we start this season, it was decided that we would have formal joust rehearsals a minimum of twice a week (Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings). Fine. First two weeks, Mark never shows. The first one he went down to South Carolina with a couple of other Faire folk to buy fireworks. Don't know why he wasn't there the next weekend. JT (the joust director) told him "You have a lot of catching up to do. You are still the newest and least experienced jouster. You'll have to come up an extra day during the week and put in the time then." Mark agreed, but never did so. He's also missed a good number of scene rehearsals with no notice to the Faire office or any of his directors. He never showed up to the first (of only two!!!) rehearsals for the kid's show he had requested to be a part of. The second time he missed scene rehearsals, one of the directors cut him from her scene. This last weekend, he did not show up to Sunday's scene rehearsals again, with no notice to anyone. Don cut him from the last scene Mark was still in(having cut him from the children's show the previous Thursday for THAT no-show).

After rehearsal last night, the artistic director (and ex-jouster and very dear friend of mine-and the one who had really pushed for Mark's getting his Knight las year!) asked me what I thought of Mark's behavior, especially regarding the joust (I would be the one jousting him, by the way, since Robin Hood really needs to go up against the big bad). I expressed my concern for his lack of attendance and failure to inform the directors/office/anyone! of said absence. I then said he'd worked very hard this past weekend, so I thought he was fulfilling his joust obligations. "Except he's not yet shown up during the week to ride." Alen interjected. "He hasn't? Not once?" I asked. Nope. Not once. Chris spoke to the rest of the team. He told me it confirmed the very difficult decision he had already made. Today, he terminated Mark's employment with the Faire. Mark was a bit frantic, and in quite a bit of denial, and posted a message to our joust board apologizing for his absences. Amidst a great deal of justifying and excuses, he assured us that he would be there from now on, and he was really excited about the summer. Several hours later, he posted another message saying he understood that the termination was due to his own actions, but he wished us all the best and still wanted to come and visit the horse he's been riding (Dante).

OUCH. Part of me feels so badly for him, but I have to admit that another, greater part of me is relieved that I won't have to worry about this any more. It's not that I don't like him as a person; I just HATE his unreliability. I'm not too fond of the idea of jousting a stranger (we may be bringing in a jouster from another team... one who is NOT used to doing anything other than hitting veryvery hard... eep!), but I think it's probably better than jousting against someone who has proved unreliable and cocky. I'm also feeling a bit guilty for telling Chris what I truly thought about Mark, as if Mark's resultant pain is my fault.

If anyone wants to tell me I'm not a bad person, I would welcome it. If you find in good conscience you can not, well... I understand that, too.