February 11, 2010

Countdown of Love, Day 4: Love at the Renaissance Faire

Today's post comes from Shackles2Garlands.  Shackles has been a reader and frequent commenter on our blog for quite some time.  She lives in exotic Ohio!  Today, she shares her personal story of courtship.


I could see him from across the grassy way, a fairly tall fellow with very long brown hair down his back and a black leather top hat on his head. He was standing behind the rope of what is normally the off-limits area of the Badger Blades booth at the Ohio Renaissance Festival. It was 2005.

“Who’s that?” I asked my friend at the time.

“That is Josh,” said my then-friend, taking a long drag off his cigarette. “Phil’s son.”

“Phil has a son?” I said in surprise, but then-friend worked at the Badger Blades booth performing sword demonstrations, so he would know. I had known Phil for several years now, and this was the first I heard of him having any offspring. In his youth, Phil had been a sword smith, but too many years of strained muscles and damaged bones finally kept him from the forge. Instead, he spent the late autumn months selling the battle-ready, real-life swords made by his friend and namesake of the booth, Badger.

“He’s not half-bad,” I said plainly, sizing him up. I was a sucker for long hair, an after-effect of growing up halfway through the 80s and developing a love for hair bands. It was what got me in trouble with men before, and I was just recovering from a particularly volatile relationship with someone I had also met at OH-Renn.

“Is he single?” I asked bluntly. I don’t care for beating things around the bush.

“Yes,” said then-friend slowly, “in a matter of speaking. He just got a divorce. It was pretty nasty. Why?”

“I was thinking of talking to him.” I was trying to be vague on purpose. It didn’t work.

Then-friend looked appreciatively at me. “I think you two would work well together, but not now. He’s a tad bit bitter and overall hates the presence of woman.”

“Ah,” I said, a little disappointed, but not surprised.

I let the matter drop, and within a few short months, then-friend and I started a relationship. Did I mention I also met him at the OH-Renn too? To make a very long and drawn out story short, it ended bad beyond worse, with a lot of broken friendships, and all the stuff of classic Renaissance Faire romance.

Flash-forward all the way to 2007. Finally for the first time in two years, I feel partially healed from my past two volatile relationships. However, I wasn’t interested in seriously dating. I was just happy I felt I could show my face to the world again.

Once again I was at the Ohio Renaissance Festival. I hadn’t seen many of my good friends in almost two years, and I was determined to have a good time. Making my way across the Faire grounds, I eventually came to the Badger Blades booth. Josh was there once again, only now he was performing the sword demonstrations. His hair wasn’t quite as long, and he looked a little life-worn, although I’m sure I mirrored him in this respect.

“Hey!” exclaimed Phil, reaching over the rope to give me a huge bear hug. “How’ve you been, girl? Where’ve you been?”

“Just busy.” I hated going into details on what happened. “How have you been?”

“Great! Just great! Diane and I got married!” Diane has been selling Badger Blades for several years now, and worked in the booth with Phil. They had been “dating” for possibly ten years at this point.

“About time,” I said, chiding him. You couldn’t meet a more perfect couple, and I include any famous literary or celebrity couple to date.

“Have you met my son?” He asked, waving a hand toward Josh. “Boy! Come over here! Have you met Heidi?”

“Ah, vaguely,” said Josh, coming over, and for the first time I noticed his eyes: a lovely deep brown.

“Nice to met you,” I said politely, shaking his hand. I noticed he was now wearing a custom made tri-corn/top hat. “I like your hat, that’s pretty cool.”

“Yea, Chris almost went crazy trying to make it,” he said, referring to the Hatmaker at The Blond Swan.

Over the next two weekends I found myself at the Badger Blades booth more and more. I didn’t want to admit it, but I developing an interest in Josh again, although he wasn’t particularly showing any interest in me. Most, if not all workers, male and female, flirt at Renaissance Faires, and are typically not to be taken seriously.

Eventually though, I decided I was going to ask Diane if Josh was dating, married, engaged, and/or otherwise seeing another female species. I pulled her aside during a busy Saturday, so as not to attract too much attention and asked.

“Not that I know of,” she confided to me in private. “At least he’s never mentioned it.”

I took the information home with me that night, trying to decide if I wanted to ask Josh out to dinner or not.

The next day, Phil started off for his morning rounds, a cock-crow tradition of stopping by each booth and saying hello to friends. This morning, he asked me to come with him, something he never had before. I was surprised, and a little nervous, sure it was about my inquiry into Josh’s marital status and convinced Phil was going to tell me to stay away from his son.

To my relief, he explained that Diane confided to him my interest in Josh, and he would be delighted if I asked him to dinner. Phil went on to explain that Josh’s divorce, the result of the wife’s extramarital affair, nearly crushed his spirit entirely, and he had never completely bounced back to the son he remembered. I explained I was interested, but unsure how Josh felt toward me.

The next weekend, I showed up at the booth as usual, trying to summon the courage to ask Josh out to dinner that night. To my surprise, Josh looked more animated than he had been in the previous weeks. The minute I came up to the booth, he bounced over to a flower vase and pulled out a pink rose.

“This is for you,” he said, passing it to me. I was blushing so hard I was convinced I looked as if I was having a heart attack.

Later I asked Josh out to dinner. He accepted, and I even stayed at his house that night since my apartment was over an hour away and it would be late before I got home (I slept in the bed, he took the couch). However, despite the flirting and sparks between us over the next few weekends, and the continued gifts of roses, Josh had made no attempt to kiss me. I was beginning to worry, wondering if Josh wasn’t as interested in me as I was becoming in him. With the end of Faire drawing near, I began to shield myself emotionally in the event things ended with the Faire gates closing. We lived over 100 miles apart after all, and the idea of a long distance relationship may not have, understandably, appealed to him.

Finally the last Sunday of Faire dawned unseasonably warm and beautiful. Throughout the day I tip-toed on pins and needles, almost sure now we would never speak to each other after that day, and feeling a fair bit of remorse over it. At the end of the day, Josh walked me to the gate as he had each Sunday. The faire was technically closed and pretty empty at this point. We stood underneath the castle gates and chatted ideally about meaningless things, until I really had to head out. I went to give Josh a hug, and suddenly felt him pull back a moment later and felt his lips on mine. I still remember standing under the gates, with the setting sun casting a warm autumn glow across the field and the castle stones, and how much warmer it made Josh’s skin look. He asked then if he could see me next weekend, to which I said I was hoping for him to ask me that. Today we are still together, and the rest as they say, is history.

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4 Robot Reactions:

JakieWakie said...

That's sweet. Makes me wanna go to a Renaissance Fair; I've never actually been to one before.

Trouble Tron said...

Agreed Jakie, very sweet. Almost TOO sweet!!!

Sparklebot said...

I've never been to one either! We all need to go!

Shackles2Garlands said...

You should! And Sparklebot can make the garb! She already made a nifty Viking outfit!

Actually, the Maryland Renaissance Faire is gorgeous from what I've heard, and definitely worth the visit.