At some point during the fifteenth century, a bunch of European artists thought it would be a good idea to start a movement. Donatello sculpted saints. Michaelangelo sculpted naked adolescents and painted God on ceilings, among other things. Raphael obsessed over The Virgin Mother. Leonardo daVinci chronicled Jesus's dining habits. Five centuries later we celebrate their influence by paying absurd amounts of money to dress up in outdated clothes and talk in pigeon middle english. If we're too poor to afford that, we rent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle DVDs.
I always imagined that The Renaissance was a fictional era created just for the purpose of pissing me off.
I attended a small private middle school where we spent several weeks of our mandatory Latin class discussing various Renaissance artists. My attempts to point out that Latin was spoken primarily B.C.E. and not seventeen centuries later were ignored. The following year, I returned to public school where our art teacher obsessed over the human versions of the TMNT. When confronted with the fact that there were other art movements throughout the course of history, she was often heard saying "Andy Warwho?" or "I think I've heard of Norman Rockwell, didn't he have something to do with Stonehenge?" After a year of the under funded over drugged public school, I went to a boarding school where my humanities teacher spent the first two months going over, you guessed it, Medieval history.
When I was at Sulfur City College, I made sure to avoid any class that mentioned the peasanty time period.
Why then, when I was free from the shackles of enforced American education, did I take a job selling fudge at a bloody Renaissance faire? Was I trying to match my poverty to a time period?
Whatever the reason, after two years of spending weekends and occasional week long vacations traveling the country peddling candy in parks, forests, museum gardens, and college campuses dressed in blue and purple tights, I had developed an intense hatred for thees, thous and sheep fucking jokes.
I had just finished training Cute Straight Boy on the finer points of not killing fat children who tried to steal lollipops, when he told me he'd gotten a job licking dog shit off asphalt or some other job that had slightly more dignity than renaissance faire fudge cutter.
"Dude. I thought you were going to help manage this stupid thing so I could take some time off."
"Sorry," he said, "It's a great business opportunity. Nobody there has ever stolen my keys, put it in their cleavage and asked me to remove it with my teeth."
"I thought you liked women's cleavage. Are you gay now?" I didn't succeed in convincing him to stay.
I spent the next day working with someone who I can only hope had been dropped on his head several times as a child. I racked my brains trying to think of who I knew that had low enough standards but high enough work ethic to hire as a replacement CSB (Cute Straight Boy for those who have trouble figuring out acronyms). No one. This was during the great unemployed cute boy drought of 99.
That night I decided to join the fair monkeys at a local bar. As much as I dreaded being surrounded by people who refused to change out of their personas in public, I liked the fact that they often bought me drinks. I was on my third Midori Sour when Erin approached me.
"Hey." She said. "What happened to your sidekick?"
"You mean CSB? He quit yesterday in order to take a job as an elephant gynecologist."
"Is he a vet or something?"
"No, he just likes sticking his head into gigantic vaginas."
"I see." She said in a tone that indicated that she didn't. "So are you looking to replace him?"
"Yea, do you know someone looking for a job?" I asked, trying unsuccessfully to restrain my glee.
It turned out that Erin wanted to quit her job at the face painting booth, but didn't want to quit the faire. Score! I told her she could start working with me as soon as she was ready.
She showed up the next day. I gave her the intense How To Resist The Urge To Throw The Fudgecutting Knife At No-Teeth Having Women Who Complain About The Size Of The Fudge training, and watched her interact with the rabble. She was great. She had a short temper that she accented with a sharp wit, and she knew how to smile while threatening to disembowel you. If she was a boy, I'd have been in love.
At the end of the second day, she offered to help me throw the tarp over the booth, and drive the unsold fudge back to my house, which was about a forty-five minute drive. "Are you sure?"
I packed each of our cars with fudge pans, and was about ready to take off when I noticed her pink triangle on the bumper. I couldn't say I was overly shocked. She was a tiny, buzz-cutted, sassy chick who played Ani Difranco CDs while we set up in the morning.
She smirked when she noticed me noticing her bumper sticker. "Yea, I'm gay."
"Cool. I figured."
"And it doesn't bother you?" Note to readers: I was not in any way, shape, or form out while I worked at the faire...too many aggressive unhygienic gay guys in kilts worked there.
"Why would your sexuality bother me? It doesn't effect how well you cut fudge. Dykes cut fudge just as well as straight boys."
"I didn't mean it as an insult. I'm gay, I'm allowed." There, now we were on equal ground. We were each out to each other, and--
"You think I'm a girl?"
"I'm sorry, are you transgender?"
"No. I'm a boy."
"Boi. Like with an i?"
"No. Boy. Like with a penis."
Erin. Aaron. Short hair. Boyish face. "Oh. Wow, I'm really sorry, I thought..."
"I thought you hired me because you were trying to get in my pants." she said.
"No, I... you knew I was gay?"
"Yea, I saw the way you looked at CSB. And the only reason anyone would hire that meathead, Brent, is if they thought he was cute."
To be fair, I hired Brent because my boss made me. I've never had a thing for cute dumb guys. But I'd hired Aaron because I needed another employee. I'd even hired someone who I thought was a woman.
I tried to think of some way to gracefully turn the tide of this conversation. Not a single word came to mind.