By Richard Bleil
You’re weird. Don’t worry about hit; being weird is a marvelous thing, and YOU are a marvelous weird individual. Just be weird.
Shameless plug warning, this weekend (June 8 and 9, 2019), in Sioux Falls, South Dakota we will be having the Siouxland Renaissance Fair at the W.H. Lyons Fairground, and yes, I plan to be there. So, hey, stop by and say hello.
Today I was out helping with the setup. Let’s be honest, my heart was in the right place, but much of the work was already done long before I arrived by volunteers far more talented than I. But, I did carry a bucket of screws from the shelter to the drawbridge, and back again.
I’ve attended the fair for many years, and standing among some of the “buildings” on the grounds, fond memories came flooding back to me of fairs gone by, and friends I have not seen for far too long, especially since I could not attend the fair last year.
The Ren Fair is important to me. It’s not as large as some of the nearby permanent Ren Fairs (which are outstanding and great fun), but it is family friendly, more intimate, has many of the same great acts as the larger fairs, has great vendors, great food…it’s just a fun time. It’s also a great place to learn to embrace your nerd and just be weird.
Ren Fairs are great places to learn to let go. When you really start to get involved, you can dress as a merchant, lord, knight, king…just about anything that you want, and the “garb” for women leaves men’s garb in the dust. It’s fun to wear bizarre baggy clothes and hats, outlandish and outdated, and just let go. You’re surrounded by people who enjoy the same things (and some who confuse “Ren Fairs” with “Fantasy Fairs” and show up dressed as storm troopers, anime characters and superheros. But, that’s okay. It’s not Ren, but it’s fun.
We are all unique and beautiful individuals, and that’s a great thing. We don’t have to agree with each other to respect one another, and this is a great lesson that all “Rennies” have learned. For me, I even began enjoying a long drive home after a Fair, and stopping by public places like gas stations in full garb. “Oh, was there a Renaissance Fair?” was a common question, to which I would reply, incredulously, “No…why do you ask?”
As far as weird goes, I’m rather exceptionally weird. I love Science, have my doctorate in chemistry (“He’s a doctor,” my mom once said to somebody in my presence, “but he’s not a real doctor”), play chess, don’t follow sports, don’t drink…yup, I’m an odd one. And that’s okay.
I’ve also been rather excessively perpetually alone. When I taught chemistry, one of two rumors was constantly swirling about me, one that I am having an affair with a student, and the other that I’m homosexual. When people are different, it’s far too common, and hurtful, for people to speculate as to why that might be the case, and to start rumors based on their uninformed conclusions.
One of my more important life lessons, though, is that it really doesn’t matter what other people assume. I had a student ask me if I was, in fact, homosexual. My answer was, “what difference does that make?” I’ve even come to enjoy playing with people who wonder, and prefer to challenge their need to know rather than just answering the question.
I bought a CD from a female artist who is a celebrated homosexual. I mentioned how excited I was to get this with a friend, who immediately said to me, “you know, she’s a lesbian!” My response was, “So what, I want to listen to her music, not have sex with her!” Let’s be honest, though, even if I did want to sleep with her, it’s not going to happen anyway, so we’re back to enjoying the CD for her musical talent.
Have I lost my path in this post? I’m thinking that maybe I have. The goal started out to be to celebrate our differences, and I will end it in the same manner, but part of celebrating our differences includes accepting the right of people to be different in the first place. People kill a part of their soul when they try to change to “fit in”. I understand the fear of standing out and being unique, but we, all of us, as a society, as a corporation, even as a Renaissance group are stronger if we embrace the differences in others…and in ourselves.