How to keep a secret from your husband in 47 easy steps

Rich and I are generally on the same wave length and we don't keep secrets from each other. So when His Majesty sent me a message on Facebook a few months ago that Rich was due for an award, we had to find a plausible event to attend where he could get it. Defending the Gate seemed like a reasonable day because he normally likes to go to that event anyways to fight. And then my mom got her knees replaced so we didn't want to leave Ian all day with my dad solo if we didn't have to. I had feigned enthusiasm in fighting rapier at the event to explain why I would go, but then refused to attend any fighter practices in the last two months because I can't hear out of one ear. And then the weather forecast became more foreboding. It was getting harder and harder to sell this event to my husband.

Yesterday, he was all, "The weather looks rainy. We might want to check again tonight and re-evaluate?" Travis agreed but I played dumb. Then Rich said, "It looks like rain Saturday. Are you sure you want to go?" and I pretended that my weather app was only calling for showers after 4pm. Then later that night Travis messaged, "So I am seeing a 70-80% chance of rain pretty much all day tomorrow." and I quickly replied, "Oh, but it's not supposed to be cold and we already promised Heidi a ride so that she can see someone get a peerage so I don't want to bail on her. We'll just bring a spare set of clothes."

I'm a pretty optimistic person, but I was really laying it on thick.

We then drove all morning through heavy rain to get to a muddy site where it was actively raining. Rich was worried as soon as we parked that our van was going to get stuck in the mud. Our son was running all over the place and managed to get soaked within 15 minutes of exiting the vehicle. Rich was wanting to know my fighting schedule so that we could be fair about who fights when, but I didn't really have much desire to slip around in the mud. We then had to have a big talk where I thanked him for his concern and assured him that I had just changed my mind at the last minute about fighting and was totally fine with spending the day in the pouring rain watching our son so that he could fight with Travis and his friends. He looked dubious, as if this is all an elaborate trap, but acquiesced.

We made it through all the fighting. Ian was on his second set of clothes and we only had one more dry set left. We were literally pouring cups of water out of his rubber boots and we had retreated to the van to warm up. Rich dropped off his armor and the rain was still coming down hard. The car next to us needed help getting out of the parking lot. I arrived as Rich has already removed his fighting tabard after the neighboring car had striped him in mud. He was down to his fighting undertunic and leg armor. He, Travis, and Jim tried to find safe places to push the car that were not directly in line with her tires. We all reminded her to go slowly and not gun the engine. And in the process of extracting her car, Rich was covered in mud a second time.

Ian was in our van staying relatively warm and dry. Rich, however, was now staring at me with somewhat crazy eyes, covered in mud. There was mud splattered all over his pants, shirt, neck, face. It was inside his right ear. "I ... would like to go home. I am cold and wet and covered in mud." And I just looked at him. We were so close. He has to stay. I also really wanted to wipe the mud out of his ear, but I knew that if I touched him in this state he would spin on his heels and walk into the woods to punch trees because he wouldn't want to lay a hand on me. His eyes were huge in the biggest example ever of the Rich Stryker patented, "I'm not angry, I'm just confused" face I have ever seen. I was frozen.

Meanwhile, our four year old son was hanging over the back of the last seat in our van reminding us that he needed to go poop and would like someone to take him to a potty.

I looked directly at Rich and told him, "I have done everything in my power to not tell you this, but you are needed in court today. I won't tell you why, but we have to stay." He stared at me, blinking slowly.

"I don't have any other clothes. I forgot my chain. I'm covered in mud and look like ass!"

Ian yelled out from the back of the van, "No you don't, Daddy!"

Thanks, bud. We used half a pack of baby wipes to clean him up. I pulled out the secret stash of clean garb I had for him (he hadn't planned on changing clothes since he was just going to fight and then go home). Ian reminded us that he still had to go potty. Travis scrubbed all the mud off of Rich's white belt. Otto loaned Rich his chain. And we went to court.

Their Majesties called Rich into court as the next to last piece of business. They called in the Order of the Golden Dolphin and praised him for his sacrifices for the sake of others. I brought in the medallion that Arn and Terri had driven three hours to deliver that morning on the pretense of dropping off apple pastries for the day shade. My husband smiled in appreciation.

We watched Alyna get her Pelican (much deservedly) as the last order of business and court was over. I walked over to my husband, looked him in the eye, kissed him and said, "Now we can go home."

Muddy day

In praise of the meeting: bitching about and then enjoying Unevent

Saturday I attended Unevent, an event designed explicitly for meetings within the SCA so that we can avoid them at all the other events where we'd rather be playing. It was in Claremont, North Carolina, which is six long and tedious hours from my house. I only had two meetings to attend the entire day other than Curia, both of them for baronage. I was going to spend 12 hours in a car for three total hours worth of meetings. I was pretty cranky about it. In order to get there at a reasonable hour, I took a half day off of work on Friday. I drove with Oda and my mom so that I could take her to see my brother in Winston-Salem on the way. At several points along the way I texted my husband about this site in "the middle of ducking nowhere" (it's an iPhone, so it censors me). I may have typed "stupid event in Egypt", which is pretty strong language since I now have this nervous tick in anticipation of my son yelling "STUPID'S NOT A NICE WORD!" like the damn FCC.

It also didn't help that the first meeting I attended as a proxy had four people in it, all of whom were proxies like me. I was not feeling the love. I will say, though, that I got very valuable information from our kingdom officer and wrote down two pages of notes to take back to our local group. Ok, fine, it was worthwhile, but I'm sure I could have gotten that information online somewhere.

We had a lively discussion during our first baronage meeting about both the need for Unevent as well as the proposed changes for Curia. I was beginning to wonder if Drea had invented Unevent or the brick and mortar conference model based on her fervent defense of seeing everyone in person. Good points were made on all sides. Ironically, as we were discussing how important it was to have these meetings in person, we were also changing the schedule so that we could end an hour earlier and let folks get on the road to beat bad weather. As soon as we started talking about finding a better date for Unevent, it became apparent that the less desirable weekends are the ones that make the most sense for this "bitter pill of an event" as His Majesty Ragnar put it, in order to reserve more desirable days for play.

I was starting to get the vibe that not wanting to go to an event like this made me some medieval version of unpatriotic. If I took the responsibilities of my office seriously, I would budget for this trip and reserve the first weekend of December for the foreseeable future. That didn't make me very excited about the event, though, just made me feel guilty for bitching about it. What must a new local officer feel about this, if they have only one hour long meeting they are required to attend?

Things got feisty again in our second baronage meeting as someone mentioned her desire to remove Unevent all together in favor of using technology for online interactions. I'm not a fan of that plan as I use that for work and it really only goes well for one person to dole out information to a lot of people but not to have any sort of discussion. The idea of replacing meetings with Webex doesn't appeal to me. But our second round of debating led to a few other very interesting points. First, we realized that we as baronage are not communicating with each other as well as we should (oh the irony to discover that in person at Unevent!) about crash space availability. It's something that would be helpful not just for this one meeting-palooza day but for all sorts of events. We also talked about how baronage can do a better job of helping folks share rides to events.

The thing I found most helpful, though, was the discussion about other fun things we could do at Unevent. I bitched pretty much non-stop about going to this event but had a very productive and pleasant day. After having a day or so to ponder it more, I'm even more encouraged that Unevent is an opportunity to train and foster service and participation on all sorts of levels. As a new member in Black Diamond oh so many years ago, I would have benefitted so much from going to an Unevent to sit in on officer meetings of those I wanted to try one day. It certainly would beat taking a job I was woefully unprepared for or not the best candidate for and feeling like a screw up. Yesterday, I would have liked to have spent an hour in a classroom with a panel of Atlantian cooks. I would have jumped at the chance for rapier "office hours". I could have learned to naalbind while wearing a hoodie and jeans and it would have been lovely. I would have helped work on the hosting barony's random project in a corner of the cafeteria if it were available (painting banners, stenciling direction signs, etc.). I could sit in the main room and offer to braid hair and model head coverings.

So my unsolicited suggestions for the next Unevent (or any event) are ...

- Have it wherever the heck you want to. It's going to be a long ass drive for someone, so it's a moot point to me. - Have other things besides meetings that will entice both people who should already know and accept the burden of responsibility to attend as well as those who may be interested in attending. Put those activities on the schedule as well to make it easy to find them. - Make sure that information about crash space is not only listed with the event announcement but conveyed to baronage and seneschals kingdom wide. People are much more likely to accept an offer to stay than to call a stranger and ask what spaces are available. - As a kingdom, make sure that we embrace the concept of sharing rides.

There was talk of combining Unevent with February's University, but I think that might be tough to do. Do you wear garb to that? Does University become two days and then do folks just complain that they have to take off Monday to get back home? Just because it's a day of meetings doesn't mean it has to suck. Meetings can be fun and if you don't like what's happening during them you should bring more interesting things to do for everyone versus just leveling up in eye-rolling. Most things about the SCA are a ton of work (setting up the Jenga-designed list fences, schlepping thrones, scrambling to repair armor, finding loaner feast gear for Lord Sweatsocks) but we manage to make all that fun. Let's not have a measly day of meetings get the best of us.

I look forward to seeing all my friends again in our jeans next year.

On track

(I had time to kill on Saturday, so I got my 10,000 steps in on the high school track.)

The name game

My brother says, "everyone had a name thing." Names are important. They are how people refer to us. We write them on all our stuff. In some cases they say things about our personality (or at least our parents' personalities). I'm a Genie in a time when there were a million Jenny's. I'm also a Genevieve which not everyone can say and even fewer can spell. My initials at birth were the same as my dad (GAP). When I was married the first time, I made my maiden name my middle name as many Southern women do. When I got married the second time I was unwilling to sacrifice any names so I have four now. Two first, a middle (that's my maiden) and a last.

However at work, I still use my maiden name exclusively. Did you know that Jennifer Aniston was actually Jennifer Aniston Pitt when she was married to Brad but just never used that name in her career? So yeah, like that. (There's my only connection to Brad Pitt, for the record.)

When it came to the SCA, I don't even remember choosing my name. I wanted to be French and I liked the images from Tres Riches Heures so there you have it. Isabel seemed like a nice name and it certainly was easy to document. You couldn't swing a cat in the 15th century without hitting an Isabel. Avignon seemed like a nice town and I liked the song "Sur le pont d'Avignon. L'on y dans, l'on y dans." So it was decided. I still remember my father commenting that if they had named me Isabel, I would have picked Genevieve for myself.

Fast forward two decades and there are Isabel's everywhere. Also, for such a seemingly simple name, it kicks everyone's ass. Isabel, Isobel, Ysabella, Isabella, Iseulte, Isolte, Izzy. People just see the first letter and panic. Also, I had no idea how many people can't pronounce French names. It's a lyrical language. If theres a d with an apostrophe in front of a word with a vowel, you mush them together. It's Dah-ving-yohn. There is no "duh" anywhere in there.

I wanted to look for another name to play with, but I didn't want to ditch Isabel. Isabel got her Award of Arms from Arielle the Golden. Isabel apprenticed to Snaeulf and Shrew. Isabel is the protege of Mistress Keilyn Fitzwarin. Isabel was the baroness of Black Diamond. Isabel is the baroness of Marinus.

After 19 years in the SCA, though, I'm finally trying something new with rapier. And Isabel isn't really a rapier fighter. But this Spanish dude is. Thus my new male persona name was born: Bartome (BAR-toh-may) Gomez (GO-mez). And I think for the next few months I'll spell it phonetically at the list field table.

What's your name thing? According to Perry (not Harry, Terry, Larry or Barry but Perry as in Perry Mason), everyone has one.