Medieval Times

 Yesterday, I went on a field trip with Orville. It was to be something Medieval. I thought it was going to be a Renaissance Faire type thing. So, you can imagine my surprise when we arrived at a mall….a mall.

Driving around the mall in the school bus, we came to a castle. (Don’t believe me, follow the link.) One doesn’t normally see a castle at the mall. But there it was.

We got out of the bus and filed inside to find a huge Medieval facade in the mall, complete with lions and knights and a dungeon you could explore for an extra $2. (We didn’t.) We filed through here and down into an arena.

In a mall…an arena. Huge, covered with sand.

Instead of bleachers, the arena was surrounded by bleacher-like layers of tables and chairs. So that, as you sat watching what would happen below, you could be served lunch. This, I thought, was brilliant. In the future, all arenas and stadiums should be built thus.

We sat down—after some wrangling so that Orville and I could sit together—and the show began. There was a king and a princess, a captain of the guard, a chancellor, and a Mistress of the Falcon, who flew her real-live peregrine around the arena and over our heads a dozen times. That was cool! Orville and John are reading My Side Of The Mountain, which has a falcon in it, so this was particularly neat.

More info about the Middle Ages, horses, weapons, clothing, etc followed, and then there was a play/joust. There was a story line, a captured prince, a bad knight, and jousting! Six knights did tricks, like sticking spears into targets and catching rings on their lances before we finally reached what everyone had been waiting for, the fighting!

They jousted, broke lances against each other’s shields, eventually ended up on foot, and fought with weapons. On horseback, they wore helmets that looked like silver or gold motorcycle helmets with Medieval faceplates. On the ground, they did not. I thought this was crazy, as—while they were excellent stage fighters, they were doing things like swinging morningstar flails around. One slight misstep and they would have brained each other.

The weapons were cool! I don’t know if they picked a special metal for extra sparkage, but as they fought bright sparks flew up into the air. One even fell to the sand and burned there for half a minute. The sparks were great. I wonder if real swords do that.

The one thing that annoyed me though was that every fight followed the same pattern. Horseback, foot, exchange some blows, kick or knee to the groin, man goes down, more fighting.

Knee to the groin?

First of all, these were supposed to be chivalrous knights. Shouldn’t have only the bad guy done that? Second of all, in a real fight with weapons, you don’t get close enough to do that without getting slashed, and if you did, the knight, in armor, would have some kind of protection there.

Maybe it looked dramatic, but I thought it was not a nice touch.

While we watched all this, they served us food. It was served on pewter plates with plastic mugs and no silverware—Medieval style. We had: ice water, bread, chicken, corn, baked potato, and a chocolate chip cookie.

Even my eleven-year-old could tell me what was wrong with this picture: corn, potato, and chocolate all come from the Americas. No one ate them in the Middle Ages.

Still, the food was very tasty.

I will mention as an aside that I once attended a real reenactment of a Medieval meal. It was served in a building built in the Eleventh Century on the island of Gotland off of Sweden (same place the movie Kiki is said to take place.) We ate with our fingers there, too, but the food was all Swedish dishes from that time period. It was delicious!!!

Sales Wenches in old fashion wench costumes roamed the stadium selling stuff: light up swords or crowns or glowy balls. One carried a tray with lights around the edges (so you wouldn’t knock her over in the gloom probably, the lights were often low, except when the horses were out.) hawking $5 slushes.

$5 dollar shushies?  Eek Egreek Zed!  What did they contain? Gold? They weren’t even large. About the size of a Starbuck’s tall.

We did not buy a slushy, but we did buy a dollar banner to wave for our knight—the Red and Yellow Knight. He wasn’t as impressive as the Yellow Knight or the Blue Knight, with their flowing hair, but he wasn’t evil like the Green Knight. And he did not win and help save the prince like the White and Black Knight. In fact, he was the worst knight there, failing in two of the games.

But when he fought the Red Knight, my son waved his banner really hard. When “our” knight lost, I looked over to discover that my son was crying. As I wiped the tears off his cheeks with a napkin, I thought “boy, it’s a good thing he’s not into sports!” Still, I was proud of his spirit of loyalty.

Orville did ask me afterward why the bad guy was black. He was the only black man there. I told him that in the picture on the brochure the position of that character was played by a white guy, so I didn’t think he had to be black. Maybe he just wanted the part. He did a really, really good job, and, as Orville pointed out several times, he had a magnificent voice.

Orville and I loved it. We wanted to bring the family. This desire came to an abrupt halt when I discovered that the ordinary prices were $60 per adult and almost $40 per child. There is a Scouts day that is cheaper…so who knows, but still!  Orville had only paid $25 to see this, and they let me come along for free—which is all the more amazing when you realize there were no other chaperones, so far as I could tell, only teachers. (Since they only went from the bus to the building where they sat down and back again, they did not need a high chaperone rate.) So, I, for asking to come, got to see this wonderful show for free and spend the day with my son.

Very, very nice day.