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Does my brain look big in this?


Often women reach a point in their lives when they take stock and suddenly realise, "oh my goodness, I'm becoming my mother!" This revelation is usually followed by renting their clothes, wearing sack cloth and putting ashes on their heads.

Well, I recently experienced a similar insight when I remarked aloud to no-one in particular, "oh my goodness, I'm becoming my laurel! What inspired this new level of consciousness you may wonder? A number of things and in order that you completely understand my answer I must provide you with some background on the early relationship that Constanzia and I shared.

As many of you may know, I was several months shy of my eighteenth birthday when I joined the SCA and I acknowledge that I was a very young 17 year old (in fact I'm a very young 23 year old) and so the SCA was an eye opener in to many strange new things to me. "Baptism by fire" is probably a more accurate description of how I felt in those early years. My very benevolent Uncle Alaric and Aunt Nerissa had been extraordinarily generous in helping me prepare for my first Festival. They devoted many hours to helping me sew garb and explain the "ins and outs" of the SCA. Nevertheless, Festival was still a shock to my very sheltered existence.

This feeling can be related in meeting one of the peers of the realm. One good gentle approached me as I was listlessly trying to find my way back to the St Florian Encampment. He greeted me with a kind smile and said, "I know your mother, we work together at the factory. My name is Hrothgar." I held out my hand and replied by saying, "I'm delighted to meet you Hrothgar, what kind of things do you do in the SCA?" "Well actually, I'm the Baron of Riverhaven and I'm also a Pelican."

I exerted every fibre of strength I had in order to keep that smile pasted to my face. I was very alarmed, the big tall man with the knives thought he was a bird. Clearly this society was filled with crazies if bird man here was allowed to be a baron. I politely bid him fare well and sprinted back to the safety of the St Florian Encampment and kept as close to Uncle Alaric as I possibly could.

A very bizarre ceremony took place that night though, Constanzia and Elenore where actually elevated to the Order of Pelican. Clearly, I was missing a critical piece of the puzzle and it was not until this was all clarified did I realise my mistake. And so Master Hrothar please forgive my ignorance, I meant no unkindness. Thus I was off to a shaky start but I decided that I still wanted to be part of the SCA despite my lack of knowledge.

Anyway, prior to Gabriel and Constanzia's investiture as B&B I had some time off uni and so spent every daylight hour (and some night time hours as well) of a whole month sewing with Stanzi. Our days were wiled away with sewing needles in hand while I asked Stanzi countless SCA related questions and hummed incessantly. Her remaining sanity is a testament to her patience.

Investiture was a triumph and I eventually became Stanzi's apprentice, but upon reflection I am not certain I really understood what this relationship actually meant or entailed. In many ways I was still as green as the belt I so proudly wore.

Over the years, I have matured into the well adjusted and graceful being that I am now (shush your mocking) and recently decided that I would way-fare to the Barony of Rowany. It was there that I became aware of the fact that I was becoming my Laurel.

I met some really hospitable people and formed friendships that I hope to foster in the future however, I found that some of the newer people were asking me the kinds of questions I use to ask of Stanzi like, "how should I pattern this piece of garb?" or "how do you suggest I sew this sleeve?" and "how do you get your head-dress to sit like that?" (Although, as far as I'm aware, no-one else made the Pelican faux par I committed).

Furthermore, I notice myself caring about those things I use to rail against such as wearing appropriate shoes, ensuring that waivers are signed, matching the correct piece of head gear to the time and style of the rest of your garb. However, more than anything I was conscious of the fact that I was in a way representing our household to the rest of Lochac and so I had to comport myself in a way that would not bring shame to my peer and suddenly that was important because I knew it was important to Stanzi. This is where the “oh my goodness” revelation occurred.

This article is not a call for the beatification of Stanzi but rather an exhortation for us all. When one joins the SCA it is exactly like opening a novel in the middle of the story and trying to make sense of what has gone on before. All the other players have read and even written parts of the history of the story and are therefore all savvy to the politics and dynamics, but for the newcomer it is completely bewildering. Unless a newbie has someone to guide and help them sew their first piece of garb and explain what Pelicans are then it is likely that that newcomer will feel isolated and not desirous to remain.

It is my belief that fostering newcomers is something that we do well in St Florian but let us not grow lax. Therefore, the next time you are at an event and see some poor lost soul desperately trying to look cool among us, take it as your cue to go over and indoctrinate… er I mean, say hi and explain what a Pelican is.