[Ansteorra] The Princess and the Pea

Jay Rudin rudin at peoplepc.com
Fri Nov 5 12:40:27 PDT 2010

Have you ever heard the story of the Princess and the Pea?

The Prince's parents had to be sure that the young lady at their door was a true princess.  But how to tell?  Perhaps they could question her about the lineage of her family?  But no; the herald's daughter could do as well as a princess.  Her manners were excellent, but a lady's maid could do as well.  So how to be sure?

Well, what made a *true* princess was how small a thing could disturb her sleep.  So they put a single pea in her bed, under 20 mattresses.  Since so small a thing as this was enough to disturb her, they knew that she was truly worthy to marry their son.

Does anybody but me think that this is a dumb story?  How could anybody think such a weakness would prove someone worthy?

But we do the same thing in the SCA.  We become proud of our ability to seek out and focus on a single modern item in a sea of noble warriors, courteous ladies, beautiful art, and authentic personae.

I agree that we need to get rid of every mundane pea we can, and that we must put up mattresses of authenticity between us and the world.  (I further agree that we often do a poor job of it.)  But re-creation is a three-legged stool, and the third one is willing suspension of disbelief.  Without this we will always be focused on the modern.  There are always modern things in front of us, so we must train ourselves not to focus on them, just as we don't look at the modern construction techniques at the Curtain theater.

Consider two people watching the field.  One says, "Isn't Lord James's stance wrong?  And I can't stand Sir Race of Bannon's name."  The other says, "Sir Race is using Fiore's longsword technique, and making it work well.  And isn't Lord James's fluted armor beautiful?"

Three questions:
1. Which of the two observers is most deeply caught up in the period?
2. Which one is enjoying himself?
3. Which would you rather be around?
4. Which would you rather be?

Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin 

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