"The Creative Mundane"
by Seamas Mac Daibhid
Last Updated April XLII (2008)
Part III: How to Behave Mundanely
"WHY DO I need to behave mundanely?" you ask. "Surely I've done enough already." Dressing mundanely (Part I) and surrounding yourself with your mundane toys (Part II) will certainly keep off the die-hard authenticity mavens (those who don't decide to make a personal life project of you), but thousands of Society people have been around so long they can simply tune out the mundane aspects of their environment. These people will no more treat you mundanely than if you were the seemliest Laurel of the kingdom.
In this article, you will learn how to use subtle bits of mundane behavior to keep a constant zone of mundanity all around you (sort of an inversion of the Royal Presence). With a few simple tricks and habits you can fend off all attempts by the forsoothly to create a medieval atmosphere around you.
Again, it is not necessary to be outrageous. Running through Court shaking a beer bottle and spraying foam on the Royal Guards is a bit excessive (not to mention dangerous). Acting like an idiot also won't work, as idiots are period. (Ditto jerks.) Subtlety and restraint are the key to getting away with behaving as a "Creative Mundane." When the most masterly "Creative Mundane" is at work, all the folks nearby unconsciously lose a bit of their forsoothliness, without ever spotting the cause.
Disclaimer: "The Creative Mundane" is written and maintained by the dark side of my persona, a sour-faced, rough-voiced hermit who pesters innocent pilgrims with riddles. I disclaim all responsibility for anyone who takes his ravings seriously or who takes offense at his suggestions.
The most important aspect of mundane behavior is the way you talk. It's not necessary to say such things as, "Awesome, Duke-dude! Like, totally rad swordwork!"—you'll draw very definite attention that way (and possibly cause a newcomer to ask you, "Was that Anglo-Saxon? Can you teach me?") Just an everyday word here and there is enough. This section will enable you to resist any temptation to speak forsoothly even when beset by peers; whatever the situation, you will have a mundane response at the tip of your tongue. Go for it!
- Guy — As in, "Some guy with a crown told me." This is a useful substitute for lord, noble, gentle, squire, knight, or even fellow.
- Chick or Babe — As in, "Look at that chick in chainmail!" Avoid using lady, gentlewoman, or damsel. Dame is iffy, depending on the context, as it could refer to a female knight.
- Kid — Substitute for child, youth, stripling, or the gender-specific urchin, lad, or maid.
Hey! — Substitute for Beg pardon, milord; A moment, good gentle; or even Excuse me, Your Majesty. A bit risky, perhaps, so if a knight racks you out over this one, don't say I didn't warn you.
- Hi! or Howdy! — Substitute for Hail! Greetings! Well met! Good Even! and so on.
- Bye! or Seeya! — Substitute for Farewell! Fare thee well! Go in peace! and other nice goodbyes.
- Okay or Sure — As used to indicate agreement: "Will you?" "Okay." Okay is my own personal favorite, since I can throw it out in almost any situation. Substitute for Certainly; Of course; As you wish; With pleasure, Your Majesty; or Nothing could please me more. Okay is also good for fighters, as in, "I'm okay! It's just a flesh wound!"
- Cool, Neat, Bad, etc. — Substitute for grand, lovely, magnificent, fine, and the like. Watch out for awesome in this context; it might accidentally sound forsooth.
- Real — As in, "That's real cool garb." Use where you would say very or most for emphasis: "She's real nice," instead of, "She is most gracious."
- Oops! — Actually, for all I know oops is period.
- Watch — As in, "You got a watch on?" Not as bad as all that, since watches are period. Still, avoid saying timepiece.
- Car or Truck — Use instead of carriage, coach, or wagon. Around really new people, go ahead and say dragon; they won't know what you mean and you can wax truly mundane as you explain.
- Profanity — Many modern profanities are perfectly period, but liberal use of them might provoke a bystander into a mundane outburst.
- Movie Quotes — A well-timed line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail or Shrek will often bring laughter around the tournament field, but dropped into a solemn moment of Royal Court it will have a quite different effect. Know your audience and choose your moment.
Other aspects of your behavior can contribute to the miasma of mundanity you give off:
- Use a Camera — Most people don't mind cameras at events, as long as they are used discreetly.
So never cover the camera when you set it down. Always hold it at arm's length, especially if it's a cell-phone camera. Use a flash in Court or at feast whenever possible (if you haven't gone digital, always get low-speed film so you can plead necessity). Oh, and don't forget to pull it out at the drop of a snood and shove your latest pictures under everybody's nose.
- Use a Camcorder — Same principal as a camera. Some people keep these unobtrusively on the sidelines, even screened by a pavilion. You, on the other hand, should run all around the lists or the hall, looking for dramatic angles. Think "Late Night Thrill-Cam."
- Play Music — You don't need rock music. Even a Carolan planxty or an elegant pavane will shatter people's nerves when it blasts out at 100+ decibels. Volume is the key, not selection.
- "The Thumb" — Naturally, everybody in the Known World needs to hear round-by-round results from Crown Tourney. Sit on the sidelines with your cell phone, frantically text-messaging constant updates to all your friends in other kingdoms.
- Whistle — If you can't carry a tune, this won't work. The idea is to whistle something that people around you will unconsciously recognize as Hank Williams, or the Indiana Jones theme, or the Rolling Stones.
- Litter — Littering is surely period, but it doesn't fit the Society's idealized recreations. Dropping candy wrappers and cigarette butts around your chair will feel mundane, even if you pick them all up in the end.
- Stay Upright — Never bow, curtsy, or make any other reverence, no matter how gaudy a crown someone is wearing. Ignore protocol; ignore rank; just be ready to make a quick getaway.
- Smoke — If you must smoke, then smoke at feast or in Court. (But see the warning above at Camera.) Remember, though, that smoking can substantially shorten your SCA career through its purely mundane effects.
The Final Points
Thus ends your primer on mundane behavior. In three installments you've learned how to keep afloat when cast adrift on a sea of forsoothliness. But I've saved two of the most important points for the very last:
- Your Topics — Never forget that the very best method for warding off period atmosphere is still the simplest: Limit your thoughts and conversation to mundane topics. Think and talk constantly of your job, your kids' day care, the Marine Corps, shopping malls, politics, Battlestar Galactica, the school board, baseball, bass boats, or the stock market, and not even the most hardened peers will be able to preserve a forsoothly aura around you.
- Their Names — Never, ever "remember" anyone's Society name or title. Referring to everyone constantly by mundane name is a sure-fire way to keep your mundane perspective intact.
Party on, dudes!
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