"The Creative Mundane"
by Seamas Mac Daibhid
Last Updated April XLII (2008)
Part II: How to Outfit Mundanely
IN THIS INSTALLMENT, you will learn how keeping a good collection of mundane toys around can hold you nicely balanced in the mundane zone, even as you enjoy the tournament. Most of these suggestions are fairly easy to defeat, so you'll have to maintain a high level of apparent ignorance and thoughtlessness to pull them off.
As in dress, pick just a few of these ideas at a time. If you go too far overboard, nobody will believe you've made an effort to fit in, and even the people who just want to have fun will get cranky with you. Try to strike that perfect balance that keeps the authenticity mavens growling but doesn't draw the attention of the fun mavens.
First, forget about armor—anyone who's been in the SCA any length of time has seen enough ugly armor to sink a longship. You're unlikely to set any Society records there. Concentrate instead on your outfitting off the fighting field.
As you can readily observe, most people will bring an assortment of mundane items to an event, and people long in the SCA are experienced at ignoring the mundane. The trick is to keep your mundane bits right out in the open and obvious, instead of tucked away in your pouch, stored in your tent, or covered with a rug or cloth. Pop me a Coke, will you?
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.
Soda Can — Never pour your drink into a period vessel. Carry around the naked can or—even better—get one of those foam-rubber can coolers. Don't try my lady's trick of putting the can inside a tankard with a hinged lid.
- Plastic Bottle — Same principle as a soda can. Ignore how easily a bottle can be slipped into a drawstring pouch and hung from your belt.
- Paper Cup — If you want to drink your beer on a dry site, a paper cup is a safer alternative to the original can, and still amply mundane.
- Insulated Mug — Another variant on the soda can. These come in a variety of bright plastic colors, often with nice corporate logos on the side. However, since tankards are available just about everywhere, be ready to argue that it's just temporary. Really. Next year you're going to replace it.
- Flashlight — Don't use a little penlight or mini-LED light that you can fit in your pouch or your basket. Get one of those big dry-cell jobs with a handle, so you have to carry it everywhere and leave it sitting out on the table.
- Cell Phone — Keep it right out in the open, on your belt. Don't put it in a pouch or tuck it under your skirt. Same thing for a Game Boy or a PDA. (Oh, and don't set the ringer to "vibrate"; leave it set to play that theme from Braveheart that you downloaded from the Internet.)
- Backpack or Fanny Pack — Well, you've got to have a place to put your cell phone after the king chews you out, don't you? Easily replaced by a basket or belt pouch, so be prepared to protest again that it's just temporary.
Encampment and Other Gear
- Tent — Actually, for many people period pavilions are too expensive or too bulky to pack, so mundane tents tend to be politely ignored (except at events that have a designated period camping area). However, at night a brightly-colored dome tent with a good Coleman lantern inside it looks like a scout craft signalling to the mother ship.
- Tables and Chairs — Nicely built folding wooden tables and chairs are readily available, so you'll have to complain that they are too expensive. Use a folding card table and lawn chairs, and never use a tablecloth or any sort of chair cover, not even a carelessly thrown cloak.
- Ice Chest — Some people will cover their ice chests with rugs or blankets, and some people even build wooden chest covers, but that's just too inconvenient when you want that next can of Dr. Pepper. Ice chests also make good stools or drums for the bardic circle.
- Banner — Nobody notices duct tape on weapons, of course, but did you know duct tape now comes in all the heraldic colors? A big piece of plywood with your personal device emblazoned in brilliant duct tape is weatherproof and durable. Never mind that good-looking colored fabric and paint are inexpensive and readily available.
- Boom Box — Isn't a tournament always enhanced by a little music? Remember not to put any kind of cover over it; that might muffle the sound. Leave your tape case lying around open, too, so that anybody can make a request.
- Feast Gear — The possibilities here are endless: Texas-ware platters, U.S. Army bowls, paper napkins, Flintstones goblets, you name it. Just remember, the longer you've been in the less you can get away with. Anybody can find a simple wooden bowl and a platter of some kind. By the way, forks are period—but plastic forks aren't.
- Car or Truck — Okay, nobody came in from Ansteorra in a horse-drawn cart; the key is in how you use your vehicle. Never pay any attention when the herald asks that vehicles be moved away from the fighting field or camping areas to a designated parking area. You never know when you'll need to run into town for a pizza or another case of Mountain Dew, right? When you do move your car, wave and honk the horn at everyone you know. Drive fast and stop hard so you raise lots of dust.
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