October 8, 2010: Cormac’s SCA Origin

According to my new blogging schedule, Friday is the day I blog about the SCA. Last Friday I talked about Coronation. This week I think I’m going to describe how I came to join the SCA. It’s a strange story, but some people might find it entertaining. So, here goes…

I am not exactly sure when I first heard of the SCA. In my mind I knew of the organization some time before I started college. I vaguely remember reading about the Society many many years ago; but it was a story about a group far away from where I was. I thought it was kind of an interesting idea, I mean I love studying history, but like I said, it was far, far away.

I do know that while I was in college I saw some folks in “funny” clothes, and even funnier armor beating each other with what I thought were baseball bats on MSU’s Drill Field. I was intrigued, but no one I knew was involved, and at the time most of my time was spent finding ways to avoid my classes and get as drunk as possible. Amazing how many ways you can find to do that if you are properly motivated, and I was.

Now, let’s skip forward from 1990 to 2002. I had recently moved to Memphis, and my only hobby, my only social interaction other than work, was playing an 0n-line game called Everquest. In the game I had met, and started spending far, far to much time socializing with a lady from Madison Wisconsin. I’ll skip the gory details, nobody wants to hear them, and I certainly don’t want to remember them, but eventually that Lady decided to move to Memphis, and we were going to be together always. Yeah, right.

Now, I mention She Who Must Not Be Named, because over the course of our many months of conversation, and face to face time (Believe me, there was not nearly enough of that. Not nearly enough.), she had mentioned that she had been member of the SCA for years up in Wisconsin. We thought that might be a cool thing to do when she moved. It would be a way for us to spend time together, and to meet some other people to socialize with.

Now, as our plans evolved that Spring, it was eventually decided she would move the last week of April. She would, in fact, arrive in Memphis the last Thursday in April. I had done some research, and found out that the local SCA group, The Barony of Grey Niche, was holding their spring event, Beltaine, that very weekend. We decided to attend. She made me a very basic tunic, and brought it with her when she headed south.

Eight years later, I still remember that day perfectly. Perfectly. We arrived at the Piersol group camp some time between 9:30 and 10:00 AM that morning. It was  a gorgeous spring day, not to cool, and not to warm. A pleasant breeze was blowing. We trolled in, and although I didn’t know it at the time, the ladies that trolled us in, THL Caitriona Campbell, and THL Luca, would, in time, become two of my closest friends. After we trolled in, we left the Museum Shelter, and headed down toward the main field.

I saw pavilions set up around the fighting field. I saw beautiful, multicolored flags, and pennons,with people’s heraldry. I saw a lot of gorgeous women (hey, I’m a guy,I notice these things),  and I saw guys that positively made me look small, in armor, and being perfectly accepted.

I guess I should point out that prior to becoming a member of the SCA I was used to being the largest person in any group of people I was likely to be a part of. I’ve been overweight all of my life, and in the past I’ve had … self esteem issues because of that. Those issues are mostly gone now, and what few remain are so …trivial, because of my involvement in the SCA. Hell, that day I was far from the largest person there. I may have been in the top five, but only barely. What is important, though, was that these large guys were not ostracized, or sidelined. They were accepted, welcomed. No one paid any attention to their size at all. This was the first time I had ever been in a group like that. It made an impression, let me tell you.

SWMNBN wanted to attend a coif making class, so after looking around the field for a while, and looking around the hall for a while, we headed down to Cabin Builiding B, where the class was being held. I don’t sew, and have no interest in learning to sew, so while she was in the class, which was taught by Vickie and Doc, I just kind of hung out on the porch, and talked to people. Again, I had never, ever been to any kind of event where I was among so many friendly, open people. I met Raven , and a few others.

After her class we went back up to the field to watch the fighting. The Silver Torc Tournament was over by that time, but easily a dozen people, both men and women, were taking part in pickup fights. I had no real desire to fight myself but I was thrilled to be watching those that were fighting. I was amazed that it was up to the honor of each combatant to determine what was a good blow. No judges. No referees. What a concept.

The day passed all to quickly. Eventually it was time to go to take a seat for Court. As we sat in the hall, I asked SWMNBN what the significance of the of the various banners were. That is when Lady Blue, and Lord Brendan, turned around, introduced themselves, and started explaining which banner was associated with what household, or peer. I began asking a ton of questions, which they answered. They made an effort to explain what each of the awards were for as they were presented in court. Oh, and let me tell you, I just thought I was impressed with the organization prior to court, but during and after court, I knew I was impressed. Something about seeing the joy on people’s faces when they received an award, but more importantly seeing the joy on the member of the audience when people received awards just really, really impressed me.

After Court, Blue and …his SCA name is Brendan, but he introduced himself as Neal, and that is still how I think of him, invited us to sit feast with them. During feast they told stories about their involvement, the local group, local notables, and just generally did their very best to make us feel welcome. The feast itself, was…well it full of what I am convinced was very good food, but just not the kind of food I really liked. Apparently the dishes were not to Blue’s taste either cause as the last remove  was cleared away, she and Neal invited us to the Shadow Legion Camp for what she called “Legion Feast at it’s Finest”. That is how I was introduced to Kane, Illissa, and the Shadow Legion.  Damn glad I was.

We stayed at the Legion camp until very late that evening, but eventually it was time to leave. As we drove home that night, SWMNBN asked me, “what did you think of it all?” My answer was simple; I loved it. I wanted to know more. I wanted to be part of it all. I remember telling her, “I want to be part of running something like what we saw today. I want to be part of making it possible for people to have as much fun as I had today”.

By November of that year, SWMNBN was gone. Our relationship was over, and a lot of really bad stuff had happened. But of all the things she did, all the hurtful things she did, she did introduce me to the SCA. A lot has changed; I know a lot more about the organization, and I’ve seen some of the bad things as well as all of the good things. I’ve met, literally, hundreds of people; most of them good, some very bad, but even the bad ones are (usually) better than the people I meet in the regular world. Yeah, a lot of things have changed, but I”m still here. I still want to be part of the SCA, I still want to be part of running something that enables people to have as much fun as I had that day.  I pray to all gods, great and small, that I always feel that.