Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dallas, Texas

      When I am at festivals, one of the most common questions that I receive is from incredulous individuals who are shaking their heads and slightly bugging their eyes, asking "How did you even get into this?"  My prompt and frank answer never deviates from the truth. "I started out as a dork in high school, and I never stopped." The response usually elicits a polite laugh.  Friends, it's all true. When I talk about wearing renaissance bodices to school with vigor and pride, I'm not embellishing the past to make it more rosy.   Below, I have shared some  person pages, RIGHT out of my own scrap-book, done by me when I was 17 years old. Now, for some good hearty "origin stories". 

         I made friends with Brenda in third grade, after she ran up to me, screamed, and licked me on the cheek. She had previously clung only to playing soccer with the boys at recess, but at some point in time, decided that she could, in fact, be friends with other females. We stuck together like glue from pretty much that point on, with the occasional pre-pubescent bouts of senseless, yet classic girl "cattiness".   By the time we got to high school, we were inseparable. Brenda was magnificently tall, slender, and exotic looking as she has a fair bit of Native American blood in her. Therefore, she was eternally tan. Had she NOT been friends with me, (which brought her coolness level down several notches), she definitely would have been one of the popular girls.  I made us both matching clothing, all of it having some sort of awkward medieval theme. We usually wore matching shirts on matching days of the week.....sadly, NOT ON PURPOSE.

         When we went on band trips or really ANY kind of trip that took us away from our high school and to places where there were high school boys that DIDN'T know how the social map of our school was laid out, it always went the same. We would try desperately to flirt with boys and make them fall so madly in love with us that they would be forced to ask for our email addresses and/or phone numbers. (good night! You kids in the golden age of facebook have it SOOO easy! You just need a name, and then you can spy on this person, figure out all of their deepest personal thoughts and feelings, find every girl they ever dated ever, and also how they feel about every single thing that happens including their burrito at lunch having not enough hot sauce. ) Anyhow, generally, we would stumble upon two lonely boys, one of them being the better looking-more-talking and more attracted to Brenda. I always got the less desirable sidekick. And by "got" I mean that I extracted perhaps 1.79 furtive glances from him until he gave up and switched to just looking at Brenda and the Cool Boy.   By the way, if you ask Brenda about all of this, she will deny all of it. She is lying.


Below, you can see the page from  my scrapbook! Our sophomore year of high school, the band got to take a trip to Dallas, Texas. When I found out that we were going to get to attend a Medieval Times dinner, where we would watch jousting, eat turkey legs with our hands, and yell "Huzzah", my excitement was nearly all-consuming. I knew immediately that I had to sew the most beautiful gowns ever for me and Brenda, and here we are, in our 16-year-old glory. 

Holycrapholycrapholycrap. This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, up to that point! There we were, at a castle *Squeeeeee* dressed up in fabulous dresses (my band teacher was, I believe, simultaneously slightly embarrassed, impressed, amused.) and, not to be a jerk or anything, but we were dressed WAY better than the wenches, who  were in very sad royal blue peasant blouses, black cotton broadcloth skirts, and little flower hair wreaths. Seriously, ladies? I still think they should have all gone on strike until they got to wear some decent corsets. You're flipping BAR WENCHES! It's one of the rites of passage!!!! 
          The show was AMAZING, and there was even one point where the handsome knight that "won" the tournament circled the edge of the arena to find a lucky lady to whom he could gallantly bestow a red rose! In a very rare moment of sweet justice (take THAT Brenda, who always gets the hot guys AND their awkward sidekicks!)the knight raised his head, peering into the crowd of restless peasants, scanning them keenly until his eyes found ME *gasp* at which point he smiled salaciously, raised his gauntlet-clad hand, and sent the pure red rose sailing in an arc (at which point, time stood still, the music stopped, the crowds faded away, and there was only me, my head tilted at an elegant angle, my burgundy home-made bodice tight around my gasping bosom, and my eyelashes fluttering) at which point the rose landed into my eager  hands, and the crowd erupted into frantic cheering, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. There I stood, triumphant and breathtaking, a warm pillar of light ascending down on me and my metal plate of greasy turkey leg bones.  These perfect moments in time are so rare that you have to cherish them  for the rest of eternity, especially when you're having a particularly bad day, working as a lowly waitress at a Ruby Tuesday in Joplin, Missouri, bent over on your hands and knees, scraping up the chicken nugget crumbs from the previous table of 2 adults, 5 kids, and a $1.75 tip. At those points, you can reflect back upon that one shining moment, when you were the princess....the belle of the ball....the lady of the hour. 

             To be fair, it might not have been quite that dramatic. I'll tell you what WAS dramatic-the event that occurred shortly thereafter. My camera had run out of batteries and film (yeah, that's right, FOOLs! I didn't have a magical camera on my phone where I could take never ending piles of pictures of myself and my plate at dinner! This is back in the STONE ages!) and we were left only with Brenda's little disposable camera. We knew we only had one picture left, and we were absolutely, giddily desperate to get a picture of us and the beautiful queen from the dinner! She had on a marvelous dress, and was CLEARLY the celebrity of the evening  with her flowing gown, heaving renaissance bosom, and period head-dress!(I know, I know. In reality, she was probably some 27-year old under-grad student working at Applebees and playing the queen on the weekends, after which she would yank off the dress and go and get hammered at a karaoke bar, wailing out a painful rendition of " Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia.)  

       The rest of the kids had shuffled away to the bus, but we pleaded with our band teacher to let us just take a few more minutes and try to find the queen! Seeing us with our big eyes and flowing lace-up gowns, he probably had a momentary lapse of judgement and just urged us to hurry up!  We turned and ran, looking frantically and desperately around the whole castle, only to see every single cast member EXCEPT for the regal queen!  We realized that were were pushing our luck, and hung our heads in defeat as me made our way back to the yellow bus of failure parked behind the castle. At that point in time, the clouds parted, and a shaft of golden sunlight shown from the heavens, directing itself ever toward the center of a courtyard, surrounded by an iron gate with bars through which the onlooker could glimpse a momentary view of what it must be like to be ROYAL! (in all reality, this was most likely just the area behind the castle where the knights would escape to for a quick smoke in between jousts.). 
 There, framed by the vertical prison of black iron railing, was the queen!!!  She was standing regally next to a man with a sizeable mustache, a Hawaiian shirt, and khaki shorts. She was laughing a beautiful bell-tone tinkling laugh and paused as she beheld something that, no doubt, was slightly alarming.


       To our surprise, the queen and the random mustache guy actually smiled and came over and opened the gate. They must have heard our uttered cries of "picture" and "queen" and "pretty" in the jumble of all of our other garbled teenage jargon. I finally extruded a sentence that made sense. "Can we PLEASE get a picture?"  At that point in time, something strange happened that I didn't even think about until much later. The random guy smiled smugly, bowing his head slightly, and the queen stepped AWAY. Um....Okay. We frantically thrust Brenda's little $9.97 windup Kodak disposable camera at the mustache guy. He hesitantly took it, a look of confusion and embarassment under his mustache, and Brenda and I thrust ourselves over to each side of the queen, where we grinned triumphantly. The mustache guy mustered just enough concern to hold the camera to his eye, snap a shot, and then hastily thrust it back into Brenda's hands, at which point in time we fled from the courtyard, bursting with joy and practically skipping with elation. 
        We reached the bus, climbed the stairs, made our way through the narrow, cramped aisle, avoiding all of the lethal glares being beamed at us from the 30 fellow impatient band-mates, and collapsed into our stiff little cramped seat. All of the sudden, Brenda froze, as if made of the same unyielding vinyl rocks as those dang bus seats are. Her eyes went wide and she said, "Oh my HELL, my mom is going to KILL ME!"  I sat there, puzzled, unable to figure out anything that was going on.  She said, "Michelle! That was Geraldo Rivera!!!  The man in the mustache! My mom watches his show all the time!  We handed the camera to HIM to take a picture of US and the QUEEN!" 
        Stay tuned for Part 2 of My Beginnings as a Renaissance Nerd in Dallas, Texas. Part 2 will have vomit, rainbow colored bras, and large gorillas. No Joke. 

19 comments:

  1. To be honest, I must be a total Ren nerd too, because I would MUCH rather have a picture with the "Queen" than Geraldo Rivera! :)

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  2. And my only consuming thought was "holy heck, you were a sophomore in 2002? I was a senior in 2002. And we also went with the band to Medieval Times (in LA)." I'm older than you. (The universe collapses) But not more mature :-) You are loads more mature (or at least I think?) than I will ever be. *skips off to the wine bottle*

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  3. Michelle, NO MORE SELF DEPRECATION! You know better. You attached photos to this essay that show in no uncertain terms that you are just as tall (fine, perhaps Brenda is 1-2" taller... big whoop), just as thin, and JUST AS PRETTY as your friend.

    You tell us all the time to be nice to ourselves, so please hold yourself to the same standard. "Humorous" self-deprecation is insidious and awful because on some level you believe it, and that does no one any good. You're pretty and thin (at worst, you're perfectly average sized), and talented as all fuck. You made those dresses at 15! Holy hell, chica!

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    1. I'm fairly sure that if I talked about how pretty and confident I felt, people would be like, "What the HECK kind of teenager WAS she?" and then I would get a bunch of hate mail about how I think I'm so hot. ;) I understand what you're saying though. This is just blatant honesty with how I remember things in my memories, added with a lot of help from my journals at the time. If I tried to tell the story from my current point of view...man, I'm not even sure what it would be like. It's hard to keep the real feelings out and put fake ones in, I suppose?

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  4. Michelle, I adore you, but seriously, it really makes me sad that you can sit there and draw pics and talk about yourself like you were a little squat ugly duckling when honestly you were perfectly on par with your 'pretty' friend. You don't have to talk trash about yourself in order to be funny, or make a point.

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    1. It's good to remember that this is written from how I viewed things as a 16-year old. That's the only way I knew how to feel then. I can PROMISE, if I wrote articles about me today, they might be slightly more positive. It's good to remember that just because I tell people to be more positive about their bodies doesn't mean that I've got it nailed down and am perfect all the time. ;)

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  5. You seriously crack me up! I enjoy reading your blog so SO much! I look forward to reading part 2. You rock, lady! ^_^

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  6. Have I ever mentioned that your drawings are my favorite part of your blog posts?

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  7. I would have rather had a pic with the Queen than that guy too. LOL This is such an adorable story! I love it!!

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  8. Personally, I think you are prettier than your friend Brenda in those pictures. Your dress is gorgeous and you have no idea how jealous i am that you had curves in high school! I am still built like a middle schooler. And I just realized I'm older than you are too... I cannot believe how much you have accomplished at your age! You are truly amazing!

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    1. careful, careful, she's reading this, and she's pretty much a super model right now in her life(but I'm sure she still has hang-ups about her body) Also, one of the most beloved people of my whole entire existence!!!

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    2. Sorry, that came out totally wrong, you are both beautiful... you just look so confident in the pictures. Gah I'm sorry I so wasn't trying to put down Brenda. Sorry sorry!

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  9. Where is part 2 already! I love reading the blogs. More story please!?!?!?!?

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  10. You realize that night you made the day of a 27 year-old undergrad who worked at Applebees, right? Somewhere there's a former queen telling the story of the two girls who took a picture with *her* over Geraldo Rivera!

    Also, you were both so beautiful!

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  11. Hysterical! Probably exactly what I would have done. Our Medieval Times band trip was here in LA, but just as fun and I ran around with the same disposable camera. Except for my trip was in...um....1998. Crap I'm old.

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