Monday, August 11, 2008

Bronny and the Sheep

By Bronwyn1 the Way-too-Patient-For-Her-Own-Good (Guest Blogger)

Well, I have a no-shit-there-I-was story2 from Pennsic3. Since I spent most of my days attending the booth with occasional forays to shop or use the potty my story, predictably, involves shopping. If there really was a Shopping War Point4, I would have won it. Hands down.

Some Pennsics are uneventful. You have fun but nothing really worthy of a story happens. Nothing outrageous, laugh-out-loud funny, crazy or tragic happens that inspires you to actually pick up pen and paper to tell the tale. Sadly this Pennsic was not like that for me. In the middle of this saga, Thad said, “You should write an article for your local newsletter.” Although Stormvale5 no longer has a newsletter, I agreed – this simple HAD to be recorded for posterity.

Oh my, where to begin.

I work for Darkblade Studios6 at Pennsic – I sit the booth and they pay me in installments for doing so. The owners are Master Thaddeus and Mistress Siobhan. Although I had taken enough garb for each day at Pennsic I had “2-3 outfits” on my shopping wish list. I went shopping on the first Saturday7. I really had my eye on a Norse apron dress but at nearly $150 I didn’t have enough cash that early in the war. I stopped at Sheep’s Clothing* where I had gotten a gored dress last year. I found two more dresses that I liked – a green one that was too large and a plum one that was too small (sadly, none that were “just right”). This would not be a problem, I was told. They could alter the green one to my measurements – it would be delivered first thing the next morning. And they could make a plum one to my measurements (“It will be ready Tuesday morning.”)

Let the games begin….

The Sheep* was indeed on my tent step first thing on Sunday morning. Without the dress. “It got so cool last night I went to sleep. Sorry!” This was not a problem because as I said I had plenty of garb with me. The green dress was delivered late that afternoon and it fit very well indeed. Foolishly I dismissed this tardiness as a fluke. One should never disregard signs and portents. Sigh.

Tuesday morning rolled around and there was no sign of my pretty plum dress. I stopped by the Sheep’s in the afternoon. “The rain put me behind because we can’t run the machines during storms. I have two hours on this dress, two hours on a second dress then an hour on your dress. You will have it later this evening. Promise!!” Famous last words. There was no dress delivery that evening so I went down to the Sheep. The shop was closed.

There was no sign of a delivery on Wednesday either so I stopped by the Sheep in the afternoon. “I’m so sorry but the rain last night put me behind again! But it will be ready later this evening!!” It wasn’t. When I stopped there later that night the shop was – wait for it – closed.

First thing on Thursday morning Osion, a longtime friend, stopped in and said “I’m supposed to tell you that your dress will be done later today.” (How she knew to have him tell me I don’t know.) It wasn’t. I stopped by early in the evening but it still wasn’t ready. “Rain delay. Sorry!!!”

Friday morning I stopped by the Sheep AGAIN. The dress still wasn’t done but at least she was actually working on it. She dropped it off shortly after 11am. Since I was minding the shop I didn’t try it on right away. A couple of hours later Siobhan said, “Are you going to try it on?” I said, “Sure! I’ll give you a fashion show, darling!”

Um…Houston, we have a problem…” I couldn’t get the bodice all the way down into place. Getting my arms into the sleeves was like stuffing sausage. I couldn’t put my arms all the way to my sides or lift them much higher than my shoulders. I could bend them only about 90° but I feared for the seams - I couldn’t reach my bra strap to push it out of sight.

I waddled down to the Goat feeling like either the Michelin Tire man or Violet Beauregard after she ate the gum. I can only imagine what people who saw me were thinking – a fat woman in denial – trying to squeeze into an obviously too-small dress. The Sheep’s daughter (the Lamb*) was minding the shop. The conversation went something like this:

Lamb: May I help you?

Me: I need to talk to [the Sheep]

Lamb: (She looked me up and down and cleverly deduced what the topic of the conversation would be.) Mommy? Could you come out here please? We have a problem!

Sheep (from private pavilion): What? Who’s there? What’s the problem?

Lamb: Could you come out, dearest? You really need to see this.

(The Sheep comes out of the pavilion takes one look at me and – I swear – takes a step back)

Sheep: Oo! We have a problem! Don’t’ worry! We fix! What happened? I wonder if I… (She gets her order book and looks up my order) You know what I did? I had three orders on one page and I used someone else’s measurements for your dress. (Thinks for a moment) You know what, we won’t fix – I’ll make a new dress! You still want the same colors?

Me: Yes please. I love the colors! The fit – not so much.

So I toddle off back to Darkblade. Before she helps me wriggle out of the dress I have Siobhan take a “Before” picture.

Several hours later the Sheep brings the shell (no gores, no side seams) to make sure the bodice will fit. (It does). She’s happy. I’m relieved. A couple of hours later she returns with the completed dress. I told here if there was a problem I would come back down to her shop. She said she’d hide.

Thad watches the booth while I try it on. Hmm….a little tight in the arms. I wear it back down to the Sheep and explain the problem. She and I go back down to Darkblade so I can change out of it for re-fitting. “We fix!!” An hour later she is back with the dress. This time it fits well enough that I call it good. I’m happy. She is relieved. Alas I didn’t get an “After” picture as I had no opportunity to wear it.

* Not real name

Explanatory Notes by The Cat Bastet

1 Members of the SCA create historical personas for themselves. This is the lady's Medieval/SCA name, not her real name.

2 Most Pennsic stories, especially those about various battles, start with this phrase.

3 Refer to my previous post, What is the SCA?, for a brief explanation of the SCA and Pennsic.

4 The winner of Pennsic is determined by who wins the most points. Points are earned for each battle, archery competition, etc. Although everyone at Pennsic spends a great deal of time shopping, there is no shopping war point (alas!).

5 This is Bron's local SCA group, located in Genesee, Lapeer, and Sanliac counties, Michigan.

6 Darkblade Studios sells Amber, silver, Celtic, and other jewelry. They don't yet have a web site but are located in Portage, MI.

7 Pennsic lasts for two weeks. You can attend as many, or as few, days as you like. Bron was there for the whole thing

Thank you, Lady Bronwyn, for sharing the funny story of your shopping adventure. I can't wait to see the new dress!

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