Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo Park, NY today. Why had I never been to this delightful wonderland before? (Save for once as a feckless youth in Northern California, accompanied by an even more feckless boyfriend - so, um, yeah - don't remember much!) I always wanted to go, but I either couldn't get anyone to go with me, or I didn't have a car, or had other obligations. I also didn't have the thing I wanted most: a costume.
"Can I buy a costume here?" Is the first thing I asked a buxom young woman after she welcomes us to Sterling Forest in an English accent and refers to me as "m'lady". She giggles, the aggressiveness of my question catching her off guard. It is obvious that this is my first time.
We walk into a fantasy where at least two thirds of all folks are ambling about various forms of Elizabethan or Tudor dress. It makes suspending disbelief a lot easier if the majority of people are all buying into the same illusion. This year's theme is Robin Hood, and the park is heavily peppered with performances involving himself. Everywhere you look there is entertainment - jugglers, singers, musicians, storytellers, acrobats, knife throwers - even the shops (excuse me, SHOPPES) themselves are a feast for the eyes.
The wanting of a costume becomes primal. The daughter's desire is palpable too - even the boys, after seeing men carrying swords and axes, start frothing at the mouth. In my youth, we always came up with our own costumes - by raiding our mother's closets. (The only "princess" dress I had was a Colonial style one that my grandmother kept for my sister and me up in Crosswicks.)
I start to think about how I can possibly justify buying one. Who could I be on Halloween wearing this kind of dress? My thoughts immediately go to Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing, but the role of Benedick doesn't quite make my husband's heart pound. Maid Marian and Robin Hood sound more like it.
We watch a live chess game where the Sheriff of Nottingham and Robin Hood fight for Marian, and we see him woo her on a bridge. We have some time before going to see bellydancers perform with a medieval German band so my daughter pulls me into a shop where I try on dresses and get tied up into a corset, but they are SO expensive, and the colors aren't quite right for me . . . and I think, oh well, it's not meant to be. Then my husband points at an outfit hanging outside of a shop - it has a long golden skirt, a long periwinkle blouse and a golden bodice-like vest. I march over and try it on. Hmmm, I think. 3 pieces . . . maybe some of these would work outside of Halloween or the Renaissance Faire . . . and I buy the clothes on my back. I know that if I take them off, I'll chicken out, and I'll be really disappointed if I don't let myself live in this fantasy.
SO, here I am: tired, windblown and happy in my new and ridiculously expensive Elizabethan garb - the G version. (Outfit is capable of presenting neckline in PG, PG-13, and R styles.
I'm certainly glad to be in the reality of my pyjamas right now, but I am overjoyed to finally be able treat myself (dare I say inner child?) to a large serving of fantasy.