Thrwng-n-Towl-art - 5/6/11
"Throwing in the Towel on the SCA" by Duchess Dame Yolande Kesteven.
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
Throwing in the Towel on the SCA
by Duchess Dame Yolande Kesteven
Oh, they think it's easy.
It usually starts with one too many numpties , vile in some cases, simply upsetting or annoying in others. Or you look at your bank account and realize just how much money you spend on this hobby. Maybe you notice that your house is full of STUFF that gets hauled out every now and then or possibly held onto for other people to use once a year, and that you keep making compromises in the way you live for the stuff, which is crazy.
And you think: You know, I don't NEED to play SCA. I have other parts to my life, things that I enjoy, that involve less angst. I'll stop! I can save enough money to travel overseas regularly, and I'll have enough time to do other things! Develop cold fusion! Spend time with my loved ones! Read everything on my bookshelves!
So you step away.
And it's FANTASTIC. Sorry, kids, but it is. All of a sudden, you have free weekends again. There is money in the bank for travel. You can spend a month in Italy with less luggage you would take for a weekend at an event (and no need to fit your partner's sword in on top of it all!). When people are ghastly, you don't need to be polite! You can just say 'Wow, that was some astonishing twattitude ! I am giving you a 7.5 for that one!' and no one will reply 'Laurels are all so mean!'
There are times when you have little laughs of perspective. You think Festival  travel is hard, try having 26 hours to get across the English Channel before your flight to Australia leaves, with no trains or ferries and very few planes, and it being much too cold to chance the swim. Happily, my father raised me on much worse trips than that.
There are times when you feel as though there is no difference between the mundane world and the SCA -- when a nice person helps you up five sets of Tube stairs because neither of you can find the lift, or when a guard in a museum takes note of the fact there's no-one else there and shows you and your friends around a collection telling you all the staff favourites and little bits of artifact history that he has picked up from researchers over the years.
And you might think that you were free of it all.
Sure you trek to Festival once a year, because short  people need someone to supply the chocolate and violence. But the clothes are heavy and annoying, and it's an awful lot of cash for ... what?
But it's the what that drags you back. Because there isn't anywhere else where grown-ups can play dress-ups and sing Dowland while hot laurels bring wine and cake. There are very few other places where you can start a conversation about 16th century illumination that ends up being about ninth-century weaving methods and have a group of people all able to contribute factual material and practical tips the whole way through. There are precious few other sports where a good loser is treated with more respect than some of the winners. And there isn't anywhere else where grown men annually volunteer to have small children with weaponry run head-first into their testes (probably a good thing, for our survival as a species ...) 
Despite my best efforts at throwing in the towel, people keep handing it back to me.
And that's all right, because having taken a step back, I've been reminded very strongly of something that I knew but sometimes lost sight of. Sometimes people are ghastly. Some people are ghastly people. That's just them. It's not the SCA. It's not all of any one group, it's not all one of part of the Society.
In fact, it's usually perfectly nice people in a really stroppy  mood, or just people who are hugely frustrated on an issue that is so important to them they lose sight of how they might come across to others. Occasionally it's people who are always staggeringly twatterrific , but most of us have learned to identify most of them.
The vast majority of these people are not trying to be hurtful. Of course, it's still easy to be hurt by them, but it's better to just shrug it off and look for the good in those people, who are mostly fabbo and thoroughly decent.
Some people are trying to be hurtful and seriously believe that their opinions are the only ones that matter. Avoiding them is fair enough. And let's be honest, we do tend to avoid all interactions with that lot. I know it's not the epitome of Grace and Courtesy, but it's so much better than standing there biting our tongues. Or, in my case, holding up signs saying 'OFF THE TWATOMETER!'.
The people to pay attention to are the ones who keep handing the towel back. They're people like Gui with his unfailing courtly graces and service. Like Domenica, who feeds strangers and has brilliant kids and still has time to do good A&S stuff at Festy. Like Hunnydd who runs genius events and is an A&S goddess with a sense of humour to improve the rainiest day. Like Cairistiona who has made life easier for scribes around the country at the same time as improving the Board and bossing old women into attending events. Like BJ/Lord Robert and Jonathan of Lochswan and MoG's son (damn mental blank!) who spend selfless hours entertaining small people even though they are proper grown-ups now. Like Sir Guillame who is unfailingly generous and inspiring, and like Nyssa who is just fabulous in almost every way and has been since she was 14. Hell, like the vast majority of Southron Gaard, who are not just magnificent in the Society, but in the real world, too.
And the thing that makes me take the towel back is that I could write about ten paragraphs like that one. From SCA rockstars like Berengar and Rowan, to newbies like the Collegians I met at Rowany Newcomers and whose names I am yet to learn, there are so many people you miss when you throw that towel in. And, apparently, people who miss you, too.
I would never stop anyone from taking an SCA break. I think breaks are good things. I think the mundane world is full of amazing stuff and that we sometimes over-commit ourselves in the Society and miss the brilliant things happening outside of it. But I would say to anyone wanting to throw in the towel, someone will hand it back to you. And it will be because for every one person who makes you feel like crap about the SCA, there are a dozen who think that you are an important part of how they enjoy the game. Well, if you're new, it might be three or four people who think you're fab  to every one who gives you grief, but the principle stands.
It's just that the people who think you're fab and a vital part of how they enjoy the game assume that you know this, so there's no need to mention it. Because humans are a bit of crap that way.
So if you're only wanting to throw in the towel because of stuff on the Shambles , pick it back up again. I'll throw it through the wash for you if you think it's looking a bit grubby, and make you a cuppa and listen you have a bit of a well-deserved vent while it's soaking. Of course, you're on your own if you think it needs a spot of embroidery.
As a quick guide to the slang, which is half Brit, half Aussie, as I am originally English but learn well:
 numpty: someone who is startlingly inept, ignorant or wrong-headed. At its most harsh, an idiot, though can also be used to describe general ignorance without malice.
 twattitude: having the attitude of a twat.
 Romany Festival: one of the biggest SCA events in Lochac.
 twat: a word that is readily trotted out in all but the most polite usage in Australia and the UK and really not good to use in all but the most extreme cases in the US. Let us forget the actual definition and say that it is a person who behaves in socially unacceptable ways.
 stroppy: cross or cranky
 fab: fabulous
 short people violence: once a year the knights of Lochac and such foolish squires and retainers as they can convince to join them take the field against the children of the kingdom at Rowany Festival to see who can kill the other with boffers. I always fight on the kids' side, being closest to their height.
 Shambles: the nickname for the Lochac kingdom mail list.
Copyright 2011 by Donyale Harrison. <donyale.harrison at gmail.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.