I have to admit, history was never my strong point in high school. It was my first class of the day and I used it to finish up homework that was due in other classes that day. Sure I still got an A in history, but good grades were never really my choice, my Filipino mother forced them on me like rice. It was either straight-A’s or death. And rest assured death would’ve come after weeks of slipper-throwing and maniacal scolding (which explains my colorful grasp of Ka Pampangan swear words. Anak puta ka!).

So last week when my friend Stephanie mentioned checking out the Lady Of The Lake Renaissance Faire (with an “e”) I eagerly jumped on board thinking of unicorns and centaurs battling to the death over Rapunzel and the seven dwarfs. Stephanie said I should probably use my time at the Faire to learn a thing or two about the Renaissance Era. And take next weekend to brush up on my Disney movies. Surprisingly we got 12 eager friends from work to go with us (well, eight eager women and four of our begrudging boyfriends and husbands).
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It was located at the Hickory Point Recreation Facility in Tavares, which was perfect because even the drive up there (and I say this with all due respect) feels like you’ve stepped back in time a few hundred years, as evidenced by the conversation between my boyfriend and I:

Him: “Are you SURE we’re still on the right road?”
Me: “I told you, YES. For THREE MORE MILES.”
(after one mile of irritated silence)
Him: “I feel like we passed it.”
Me: “We DIDN’T. We’re still in Howey-In-The-Hills.”
Him: “Still where?? Are you being a smart-ass?”
Me: “For once, no.”

When we finally arrived we made a beeline for the beer tent where they offered peace-of-mind and old-fashioned flavors like cherry mead and Bud Light. They also asked if we’d like to attend their “beer school.” If they had turned beer into a school lesson when I was in college I probably would’ve lost interest in it much sooner. I pictured a bunch of French-speaking rednecks swishing beer around their mouth, spitting it back into a chamber pot, and making comments like, “Zat one eez bold fer sher, but a tad beeter.” I found the thought sobering, so we politely declined and made our way over to what we really came here for. Food! Here they sold drumsticks big enough to feed a small village in Africa. Doctors call them “Myocardial Infarction” but to the layman they are Turkey Legs. Finishing one is a challenge; keeping your dignity while you do so is even harder, but we tried. It just seemed like the Renaissance thing to do.
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Everywhere you looked people were dressed in colorful costumes from peasants to maidens, jesters to kings, and – for those who also didn’t pay attention in history class – elves to dragons. With the exception of the dragons they all spoke in Renaissancian (yes, I made that word up) calling the women “fair lady,” the men “my lord,” and the children “mutts.” Just kidding. But there were a LOT of children there whose parents I’m sure wanted to open their eyes to the artistic and intellectual uprising of 15th Century European culture through games involving axes, swords, arrows, and animal-like violence. It was awesome! And then came the joust: knights in shining armor holding long silver lances and charging boldly at each other atop powerful horses. Mmmmmm… My Lord, indeed.
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You’d think that was the highlight of the day, right? Well, there was one more. You’ve probably never thought about it, but during the Renaissance Era a peasant’s toilet was nothing more than a bench with a hole in it; toilet paper consisted of moss, straw, or leaves, and all of it was tossed into one big town cesspool that is now known as Los Angeles. Back then, water for trivialties such as washing hands was a luxury. Soap was REALLY expensive and very hard to come by mostly because it was made of mutton fat and – just like in today’s era – no one really quite knew what a mutton was. This, fortunately, appeared to be the one detail that was overlooked at the Faire because not only were there plenty of port-o-potties, but there was also a port-o-sink.  Using your foot like a jackhammer you could pump enough water to spritz your hands with what amounted to a fine humid mist, no matter how hard you pumped, and to monitor it all – just like in a Southbeach, Miami nightclub – was an actual RESTROOM ATTENDANT sitting at a table next to the plastic sink outside the port-o-potties in a field at a Renaissance Faire in Lake County, Florida. He said to Laura Diaz – with these exact words and in all seriousness – “You better not use all my water unless you wanna get me some more.”
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