Lately I have been feeling under the weather. Not physically sick, but just irritable, tired, and impatient. For those who know me, this shift in mood contrasts greatly with my normally optimistic (translation: annoying) self. Usually when I get this way, my body is telling me that I need to work out a bit. Nothing extreme, just an hour to an hour and a half of running or lifting will suffice to revive my spirits from their more somber depressing funk.
Yet my body’s method of communication intrigued me. In religion class, they taught us that suffering is a reaction to evil; in psychology, they taught us that anxiety is a reaction to stress; in gym they taught us that pain is a reaction to physical harm – which usually concluded my reaction to gymnastics. Thus, I discovered my body’s signals for languor: depression. And the immediate remedy for its cessation: exercise.
Or if funds allow, a visit to the bookstore . . . Or if time and money allows, a road trip to an unknown place.
For those of you, who have never ever ventured out to a Renaissance festival, I have three words for you: boostiers and bread bowls . . . Ok, that may have been four words, but if you happen to be scraping chicken and rice out of a bread bowl while young a lady trots by in a short period dress and a boostier, you too might discard some first-grade math to chisel that image in your mind’s temple. Albrecht Dürer clearly missed out on the medieval centerfold market; St. Jerome just does not possess the hips.
Seriously though, forgoing the tantalizing costumes, Renaissance festivals excite me each year. The fair grounds are set among the trees, the food tastes delicious, and the shows are always filled with bawdy quasi-British humor. With hot apple cider in hand, we can sit beneath several large oaks and watch short Shakespeare plays or shop for goblets and immense six-foot long swords. Although, personally I pass on the period weaponry; after twenty-five years on the job as big brother to seven siblings, I need not buy fuel for a possible funeral pyre. My voice creaks and groans from years of screaming lengthy portents:
“Sean! Do not play with the sheet-metal! You’ll cut off a finger!”
“Kevin! Stop playing with the bug-zapper! You’ll fry your tongue off!”
“Alright just so we’re clear: no one is ever EVER to attempt anything Macaulay Culkin does in this movie, ok? If you do and manage to survive unscathed, afterwards I will kill you. So Ryan, please return Mom’s good ornaments to the box. Thank you.”
Originally my parents attempted to completely secure the house: bubble-wrapping all the table corners, buying only dull knives, corking the electric sockets with plastic plugs, and vacuuming daily so no dead bee or wasp become the next appetizer to a crawling infant (that reminds of the old line in To Have and Have Not:
Eddie: Say, was you ever bit by a dead bee?
Beauclerc: I have no memory of ever being bit by any kind of bee.
Slim: (interjecting) Were you?
Eddie: You’re alright, lady. You and Harry’s the only one that ever…
Morgan: Don’t forget Frenchie.
Eddie: That’s right. You and Harry and Frenchie. You know, you got to be careful of dead bees if you’re goin’ around barefooted, ’cause if you step on them they can sting you just as bad as if they was alive, especially if they was kind of mad when they got killed. I bet I been bit a hundred times that way.
Slim: You have? Why don’t you bite them back?
Eddie: That’s what Harry always says. But I ain’t got no stinger.
Yet somehow, the kids always seem to avoid the protective coating usually by stepping outside now and then. Though convinced that complete security is impossible – particularly in Nature – I avoid placing long sharp pointy-daggers within reach of small children and Kill Bill-enthused teenagers. The way I see it, if protecting my family from prowlers requires the implementation of a medieval sword, if an army of undead ninja prowlers lie in wait outside my door, forcing me don my authentic Grendel-skin, Son of Cain cape, and to unsheathe my authentic Beowulf dragon-hide sword, then I am probably doomed anyway. Luckily enough that will not happen. From my experience, the undead masses just are not that organized.