Hold still, I’ll try not to hit you…

November 2, 2008

More about our adventure at the Maryland Renaissance Festival-

Connie and I had a great time meandering through the festival meeting strange and exciting folks, sampling the local cuisine and participating in some no-kidding renaissance activities. I think the activity that we liked the most that day was drinking beer, but we did other things as well. At one point in the day, we found a whole row of stalls set up where you could pay money to throw any number of extremely sharp objects. The goal was to get your sharp object of choice to stick into a wall that had a painted target on it. I’ve seen things of this nature before. For example, at most amusement parks you can cough up a couple of bucks to throw darts at some balloons or you can play around in the shooting gallery. Some would consider these activities dangerous, but well-established amusement parks do an excellent job of creating safety controls and regulating what you can and can’t do. For example, in most shooting gallerias, the only thing that comes out of the end of your high speed rifle is a beam of light, not to mention they are chained to the table, making it impossible to turn your beam of light onto your fellow park patrons.

News flash: The Renaissance festival doesn’t believe nor endorse “Namby-Pamby” safety regulations.  At the Renaissance festival, you better bring your gonuts because they believe in doing things the old fashioned way (i.e. someone is going to lose an eye before the sun goes down).

So, let me set the stage for the booth that we saddled up next to. We found a row of stalls, like I mentioned above. Each of these stalls had its own particular edged weapon that you could pay to throw. For example, you could throw axes, knives, ninja throwing stars, old lawn mower blades, scissors- if it could be sharpened to a razor’s edge, then you could pay to throw it. Connie was the test subject for this event and she selected throwing knives, which honestly seemed liked the most reasonable sharp object in the lot.

She paid her $2.00, was handed a gob of well-used, but really sharp throwing knives and took her place along the counter.  The goal of these booths is to make a lot of money, so Connie was shoulder to shoulder with about 10 other renaissance goers. I found it interesting that Connie was the only person not dressed in chain mail or sporting a John Deer baseball hat. She was also about half the size of the next smallest person in her group. The only similarity between Connie and the rest of her group was the beer she was using to hold down her wad of cash. It seemed everyone had a beer in one hand and a sharp object in the other. This should have sent off some internal safety alarms for me, but I was busy holding a camera in one hand and my beer in the other, so who was I to criticize?

The counter was about 12 feet from a large wooden wall which had a painted heart for each person at the counter. The heart was the intended target. When everyone had paid their fee, the stall administrator stepped cautiously behind a protective barrier (again warning sirens should have been going off) and gave these commands: Make Ready (pause), Aim (pause), Throw!

Make Ready!

Make Ready!



What happened next could have been considered terrifying, but thanks to the cheap beer it was more exciting and funny than anything else. The minute the group was given the command to throw they went bananas. I’ve never seen a group of people display such a flagrant disregard for their own personal safety. Each of them threw the knives so fast that you would have thought that the contest was to see how quickly you could get the knives down range.

Of all the people throwing, I saw one guy who actually made his knife stick into the wall. The rest of the group’s knives either didn’t make it the distance (12 ft) or the knives bounced pathetically off the wall. The lack of successful attempts perplexed the throwers, so they threw the knives harder and faster. Made sense to me, if at first you don’t succeed try harder, right? Now what I saw was a bunch of beer-fueled, embarrassed men hurling their razor sharp knives toward the target with all their might. Of course my wife was not in this category. Connie was not embarrassed at all, every time she came even remotely close to hitting the wall she looked over at me laughed, smiled and took another sip of her beer. I thought her technique was much more effective.

The rest of the throwers were embarrassed. These feelings were reinforced by the mob of bystanders who decided to heckle the group for their substandard knife throwing performance. Does this make sense to you? I personally make it a point not to insult well-armed intoxicated people, but obviously my train of logic was not a shared standard of behavior. By the end of the round of knife throwing, the knives were hitting the wall so hard that they actually came dangerously close to boomeranging back past the counter and into the unsuspecting crowd of drunken hecklers. No one seemed to notice.
So that’s how it ended, no one was seriously injured, but I believe that our knife throwing experience was an anomaly. At some point during the month long Renaissance celebration, I guarantee someone walked away with a sharp object embedded in some part of their body. The law of averages suggests that this would be a very safe bet. Here is my final observation regarding this outing, what moral high ground do I now possess when encouraging my boys to not participate in dangerous activities? Haven’t I just raised the mark for what is and isn’t acceptable behavior? I can only imagine my boys reading this post and using it against Connie and I when one of their hair-brained schemes is hatched:
“Dad, Cayden and I are going to parachute off the bay bridge with our superhero bed sheets, we’ll be back in time for lunch, see ya”.
Followed by:
“Come on Dad it’s not like were going to drink beer and throw razor sharp objects into a crowd of rowdy middle-aged dudes dressed up in weird costumes”.
I see trouble brewing…
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Marmalade posted the following on November 3, 2008 at 5:31 pm.

LOL. Shane, I adore your blog! It’s fantastic. Great entry.

admin posted the following on November 3, 2008 at 8:14 pm.

I’m so glad you enjoy it, that was my intent. Thank you for the kind words!

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