“You know, in my line of work you get a feel for these things, and I can tell you two are a great couple. How long have you been together – two, three years?” asked the inebriated judge.
Now, for those of you who haven’t been, Pennsic is a wonderful place to pick up chicks (and guys). But I had decided before arriving that I was not looking to get picked up. I didn’t want Logan to get stuck with the one girl at the party who wasn’t looking for action, so I opened my mouth to explain that we’d just met.
“What’s it been, snookums, three years?” Logan asked.
“Almost four,” I returned.
By the end of the evening, we’d supposedly been married for five years (putting me in my teens on the ‘big day’), and the judge was far enough into his cup to buy it.
By the end of the weekend, we were crazy enough to believe that – who knows? – we might make a great couple. And the rest, you might say, is thanks to the power of suggestion.
I was home – but almost no one else was. Of the three folks left, two were too buzzed to remember me even if we had known each other. Logan was partaking but coherent; I’d never met him before, but he was kind enough to help me unpack, and even volunteered to sleep elsewhere that night, lending me his bed so I could wait to set my tent up during daylight hours…
But beds were the last thing on my mind; this was to be a short trip to Pennsic to catch up with old friends and no more. I changed into what I had that could pass for garb. I’d packed quickly, not bothering to dig out my more authentic stuff, and the peasant shirts I’d brought included a subtly tie-dyed number that I hope wasn’t too noticeable in the dark. Soon I was sitting round the campfire, re-making the acquaintance of the folks who had been so gracious to me three years prior.
After some time Logan invited me to go party-roaming, along with a couple of girls and a judge who had been brought in to remarry a couple who camped nearby. Sober as a judge the judge was not. This judiciary gentleman developed a habit of leaning in to whisper incoherent nothings in my ear. At some point, he must have given up on his own designs, as he declared:
“You know, in my line of work you get a feel for these things, and I can tell you two are a great couple. How long have you been together – two, three years?”
Logan and I met through mutual friends.
I hadn’t been to Pennsic* for years and didn’t plan on staying for long: I only had a few days that I could squeeze out of my schedule. But summer after summer I’d failed to revisit the folks who had so beautifully welcomed me at my first Pennsic, and with a bohemian’s penchant for traveling, I wasn’t sure when I’d spend another August in the States.
My campmates knew I was coming, but not when to expect me. After a nine-hour drive, I arrived at Cooper’s Lake Campground at dusk, checked in, and received my medallion. Back in the car, I spread out my map and tried to divine my way to the high meadows from those squiggly lines. I remembered the street names on my way: The Great Eastern Highway, Good Intentions, and Free Will. But the campsite looked so foreign from behind the wheel of a car. I had to ask directions two or three times. Everyone was in garb, and readying to party. Never have I felt so garish wearing shorts and a t-shirt.
It was full dark by the time I came to the hellishly steep hill named Abandon Hope, and crawled up it. Sure now that I was in the right neighborhood, I parked the car and wandered past the red-and-black sheetwall that I thought was the right place. I peeked in the gate, and was greeted by a dry erase board that had been propped on an easel. The board featured the household symbol – and some phrases I’ll omit for the sake of innocent eyes.
I was home.
*The largest yearly event of the medieval recreation organization the Society for Creative Anachronism. Upwards of 10,000 people camping, crafting, shopping and partying with a medieval flavor.