A Wedding!

My father, Dennis Burns and his fiancée Bonnie were married this last Saturday. It took place at the Renaissance Festival in Gold Canyon, Arizona. This was my first Renaissance Festival, and for those who have never been to one, let me tell you... 

It was BIZARRE! 

Don't get me wrong, I had fun and all. It was a wonderful treat to see my ol' family (Dad, Nathaniel, Grandma Pat and Marty), not to mention the new additions to my clan, Bonnie, my new step-mom, Christine, Robert, and Nicki, my new younger siblings. But, I cannot escape just how unusual the whole experience was. 

It took us the usual six hours to drive from San Diego to Arizona. This was Renée and my second trip to AZ. so we tried to be prepared for how dry it gets. We showed up around 4pm on Friday and went to the festival to pick out costumes. 

My brother, who's been the "cute one" since we were children, had no trouble finding the perfect costume in no time. (razzenfrakkin') It took me about an hour to finally pick out one that wasn't too "peasanty-looking", tent-sized, or child-sized. 

I didn't intend to pick out something that stood out, but that's just the way it happened. The costume that got the most nods of committee approval was a shock red beefeater dealie. Renée got away with something less flashy, but it turned out to be pretty itchy.

So we show up for the festival (this story will be more interesting when I have pictures, I hope) and right off the bat, random freaks are approaching me and jabbering to me with very poorly-rendered Medieval phrases.

While I managed to turn most of them away with an (outwardly friendly, inwardly irritated) nod, there were some who simply didn't take the hint and would persist trying to make conversation with me.

"Why are these people trying to role-play with us?" my wife would ask.

"Can't they tell we're not freakishly absorbed with this nonsense?" I would offer.

A quick look at one another and it became very clear. We fit the part.

We were dressed like those who took this stuff seriously. We were wandering around the grounds in the garb, and people naturally assumed we were every bit as hardcore as they were.

So we took my father's advice, bought an artichoke (nummy!) and sat in on "The Ded Bob Sho".

Ded Bob is a skeleton puppet that wanders into the crowd, picks some hapless souls to play onstage with him, then proceeds to insult the audience.

Ded Bob came perilously close to Renée, which terrified her, (Hee! Hee!) but ended up picking a lady from the row in front of ours. The show actually wasn't too bad, but when it was over I was achin' to try one of those turkey legs they sell.

As a side note, turkey is a New World food that reached Asia Minor only after 1500 and did not come into general use in Europe until the late 16th century, well after the Renaissance. The famous image of Henry VIII munching on a magnificently large turkey leg is classic but probably apocryphal. (The bird in question would more than likely have been from a goose or other large water fowl.) They are perfectly period for Elizabethan feasts, as turkeys are mentioned in Thomas Tusser's 1576 farming calendar, but not for either the Middle Ages or Renaissance. Many Medieval themed restaurants and Renaissance Fairs should be sternly admonished for serving turkey (and potatoes) as authentic food!

I have spoken with others who have gone to the Renaissance Festival and apparently my experience with the turkey leg was not typical. Nevertheless, I was underwhelmed. The amount of SKIN on a turkey leg is phenomenal to say the least. I don't eat the skin (if I can help it) and so I peeled it off. That reduced the net weight considerably. Once I started into it, I found that mine was mostly cartilage, sinew and fat. *sigh*

Anywho, it was about time for the ceremony, so Renée and I headed back to the grassy knoll. We took family photos (you can see all of the photos here) and then marched off to do the ceremony.

The ceremony was a cornucopia of events. I have to say I couldn't keep track of what religion was what, as the shebang included Christian elements, Native American custom, sword-and-broom-hopping, bread-eating and some weird pagan thingy that involved an older lady with a feather mask taking her clothes off backstage in broad daylight.

To each their own, eh?

Anyway, Bonnie looked beautiful in her outfit, which matched my dad's quite well. I had to step on Robert's feet off and on to keep him still during the ceremony, but he's a good kid too, and it all went rather smoothly.

After the ceremony, we formed a wedding procession and marched across the fair to the jousting arena.

There, the "King" and "Queen" announced the marriage of my father and Bonnie, and we watched a mock-joust from the box seats and drank mead. (I like mead.)

When the joust ended, we headed back to the grass area for the reception. Renée and I sat with my Grandma Pat, Marty, Ruth and Robert. We sat and caught up with family as my dad and Bonnie mingled.

After much reveling (the German band that played was actually quite good), the newlyweds cut the cake. My dad wussed out and didn't smear the cake in his bride's face. I was shocked beyond belief, I must admit. We then wolfed down our cake so we could go change out of our get-ups.

Robert's a cool guy who reminds me a lot of my father-in-law. I'm really glad I got this chance to meet one of my dad's best friends. He kept grumbling about his Robin Hood outfit, complaining that he looked like Peter Pan. (He did!)

When the reception ended and we (finally) changed into our civilian clothes, we headed back to the hotel and all hung out at the bar.

After I was treated to five "Number 10" Bloody Marys (supposedly super spicy, I guess), Nathaniel and I found a song from the karaoke book to belt out together in this quiet country style bar. When our turn came, we were told by a cocktail waitress that we couldn't do it "too loud". Uh-huh, sure, no problem!

So we startled the whole joint when we belted out "Chop Suey". I'm sure that the dazed expressions on everyone's faces was indicative of just how dumbstruck they were that so much raw talent was theirs alone to behold!

I got a neato knife for being in the wedding party. I think it's meant to skin grizzly bears or something, and if I lived in Arizona, I could probably carry it on my hip to the movie theaters. Seriously though, it's pretty sweet lookin'. Thanks, dad!

Will I be attending another Renaissance Festival anytime soon? Probably not!

Did I have a good time? Damn straight!

In honor of this joyous event, I thought one of Robert Burns' poems to his beloved Jean Armour, who he married in December of 1788, would be most apropos.

O, were I on Parnassus hill
Or had o' Helicon my fill
That I might catch poetic skill
To sing how dear I love thee!
But Nith maun be my Muse's well
My Muse maun be thy bonie sel,
On Corsincon I'll glowr and spell
And write how dear I love thee.
Then come, sweet Muse, inspire my Lay
For a' the lee-lang simmer's day
I couldna sing, I couldna say
How much, how dear I love thee.
I see thee dancing o'er the green
Thy waist sae jimp, thy limbs sae clean
Thy tempting lips, thy roguish een
By Heaven and Earth I love thee!
By night, by day, a-field, at hame
The thoughts o' thee my breast inflame
And ay I muse and sing thy name
I only live to love thee.
Tho' I were doom'd to wander on
Beyond the sea, beyond the sun
Till my last weary sand was run,
Till then, and then, I'd love thee!

It is said that his married life with Jean Armour was the happiest period of his career.

Congratulations to you both, Dad and Bonnie.
May at least a hundred blissful years together lie ahead of you!

(Click here for ALL the photos) 

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