When Jonathan and I first met, the thing that scared him most about me was that I was a vegetarian. But what actually should have scared him most about me is that, not only do I have a degree in theater, I’m pretty much the scariest kind of theater nerd: the kind that has an annual tradition of visiting the renaissance festival.
Although Jonathan has admitted that the axe-throwing competition “okay I guess sounds kind of cool,” not even the chocolate-covered bacon they sell is enough to get him within 10 miles of the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Luckily for him, I have a dedicated group of friends to drag with me every year, which this year included Jonathan’s sister Michelle—another Ren Fest veteran who, if you remember, also shares my love of candy the entire length of my torso. Also along for the ride was Martin (who retains his masculinity by shooting a lot of guns), Leticia (this was her first time in the renaissance, and we initiated her well by immediately ordering her a round of beers from a singing bartender), and my friend Becky from high school, who has been going to Ren Fest since we were 15 and all we could do was get henna tattoos and braid our hair.
Since Ren Fest is in my top 10 favorite places on earth (somewhere after Disneyland, and somewhere before Trader Joe’s), the first element of my wedding I planned was not the food, or the dress, or the venue; it was my bachelorette party that will happen at Ren Fest next year. This trip served as a dry run for the pre-wedding celebration, and we discovered that Ren Fest and bachelorette parties both actually contain the same basic elements:
1. The Food.
Who needs a fancy dinner with a champagne toast when you can just carry around a piece of meat with you and eat it directly from your hands?
Not pictured: the candied mixed nut bag and the chocolate cheesecake on a stick; so that covers the appetizer and dessert portion of the meal as well. My biggest mistake this year was getting too drunk to remember all the food I wanted to eat. This was, however, my first Renaissance Festival post-vegetarianism (that’s right—I was a vegetarian for more than 10 years), so it was somewhat of a milestone for me. JONATHAN WOULD BE SO PROUD:
The verdict is that it didn’t make me want to vomit. It did, however, take way too much work to eat. Life must have been really hard during the renaissance.
2. The Drink.
To be honest, the amount of alcohol consumed at a bachelorette party is pretty much the same as the amount of alcohol consumed in one trip to Ren Fest. The only difference is that instead of taking the regular double entendre bachelorette drinks like “buttery nipples” and “blow job shots,” your choices are limited to beer, hard cider, and wine. This year, we took to mixing at least two of those things together into one drink, and the bartender would make us two at a time so we could double-fist our way to the next bar. (The winner for best new drink goes to Becky, who mixed hard cider with raspberry wine and then spent the afternoon trying to get children to fight with her.) However, if you want the true bachelorette experience of spending most of your night puking into various trash cans and toilets, I suggest spending your day drinking mead. Because it’s fucking gross.
This part of the planning went very well. We’re ready for the bachelorette party.
3. The Characters.
Bachelorette parties have strippers and guidos who try to make the bride take advantage of her last night as a single woman by taking shots out her boobs and asking her to grab dollar bills from their thongs (it’s my experience that guidos and strippers have a lot in common). Well, at Ren Fest, we have men dressed as trees (see, Jonathan, camouflage is everywhere) and grabby drunk guys in leather skirts speaking with fake British accents.
Not pictured: the large population of teenagers who think the Renaissance Festival is the perfect place to wear their clip-on tails and animal-ear head bands. I’m assuming they’ll all show up with their tails next year too, because no bachelorette party is perfect.
3(a). My friend Julia from high school, who is employed by the Maryland Renaissance Festival and is one of the funniest people I know.
4. The Entertainment.
I’ve been to some great bachelorette parties at karaoke and piano bars, but Ren Fest surpasses them in theory, because basically the entire thing is a big dirty karaoke bar, and nobody is singing Justin Bieber (no offense to my bridesmaid Rachel, whose rendition of Justin Bieber’s “Baby” at her bachelorette party is still one of my favorite memories). In past years at Ren Fest we’ve prioritized the witch hunt, the jugglers, and the joust, but this year our day was cut short and we were only able to make it for two performances:
5. The Adventure.
“Adventure” at a bachelorette party usually involves a champagne limo ride or a slutty bridesmaid dancing topless on a bar (although technically if both those things happened at my Ren Fest bachelorette party, I wouldn’t complain). And while most years the biggest adventure at Ren Fest is either riding the elephant or trying to navigate the woody terrain without falling down a hill after 10 beers, this year we were lucky enough to be graced with a huge-ass thunderstorm that turned the grounds into a giant pit of streaming mud.
Next year I’ve made a note to stick to rock climbing and funny hats.
6. The Merchandise.
As much as I love bachelorette sashes, tiaras, and straws shaped like penises, I’ve already been looking into the corsets and busty leather vests as the required uniform for my bachelorette party. But also the penis straws, because they probably fit in. And if you ever find yourself in need of a full bodysuit made of chainmail, you can find it at the Maryland Renaissance Festival (and you can buy a real sword and a shield depicting your family crest to go with it). I was disappointed this year to realize that they didn’t have a single corset in camo print, which proves that the state of Maryland really needs to be doing more to show support for our troops.
Michelle and I were, however, able to purchase the most patriotic merchandise available to the renaissance.
7. The Cleavage.
Again, this category is about equal for normal bachelorette parties as it is for Ren Fest.
Actually, I think Ren Fest wins the cleavage challenge.
The worst part of this year’s Rnn Fest experience was that Jacki blew a tire the night before, and therefore couldn’t show up to force me to sit in the audience for The Renaissance Man, who one year called me on stage to make an example of my boobs (“a balcony you could do Shakespeare off of”) and then kicked me out of the show when I refused to read the script he gave me and decided to improvise instead. Some people just don’t appreciate real talent.
The good news is that I got a two-day pass, SO THIS WAS ONLY PART ONE. Which means you all have one month to help me find a corset in camo print.