One of my many geeky pastimes is Renaissance Faires. Every year we attend King Richard's Faire in Carver, MA at least once. The faire is open ever autumn and is always an excellent time where you can dress up with your friends, eat giant turkey legs, watch men joust and sing tavern songs among many other things. Oh, and shop! Did I mention shopping? Because seriously, the shopping is amazing. So many wonderful things.
There I go again, getting derailed by shopping.
Anyway! This was an especially exciting year. We got to attend the faire with a large contingency of our dear friends, which automatically made the day far more awesome. Even cooler, I got to go with my friend Melly from Colorado who flew in to spend the weekend with us. We had not seen her since I was pregnant! We had some quality bonding time at the Ren Faire, as she is also a Renny, as they say. Big time. She worked the circuit for a while.
I probably do not need to say that I was the only woman in a wheelchair on that stage, strutting my stuff and what not. Indeed, the had to somewhat modify the competition for me. They most certainly didn't expect me, but the workers at the Faire are excellent people. It was so strange being up there in front of, no lie, hundreds of people. I didn't feel any fear. No nerves. Which seems very strange to me now. The competition was intimidating! Beautiful women with the kind of moves and bodies I'd always wished for.
It went like so. Three judges were chosen from the audience. The judges got to pick their two favorite contestants, then the hosts of the contest chose wild cards to move to the next round. The next round, the audience cheered loudly for their favorite. The energy was incredible. The response from the audience was amazing.
After narrowing the contestants down again, there was a trampoline jumping portion. You can see why this would be a problem for me, I am sure! So they asked my husband to come up and just shake my chair around instead--which he did, with alarming vigor. I thought he was going to break it. Or me. Or both.
Narrowed down again, now down to three--and I was among them. It was time to go out into the crowd and collect money from the audience. Half the money collected by each of us would go to a charity that helps employees of the Renaissance Faire during financial crisis. The rest? We got to keep.
Since I could not go out among the crowd, I had one of the hosts doing so for me, but even with her there people were coming up to the stage to give me money because they couldn't reach her. It was so overwhelming and so much fun.
They counted the money. I collected 245 dollars. Most of it in small bills.
I won. I won half that money, two tickets to the faire, and a new corset (extremely exciting I assure you!)
My new corset!
While I sat up there, looking out over the audience, I couldn't help but notice the other people with disabilities. There was a girl in a power chair there, and all I could think was that I hoped she saw me and felt empowered. We can be beautiful. We can be SEXY. We can totally win cleavage contests, apparently!
I know I helped a lot of people look at people with disabilities differently that day. That was the best prize.
The smile on my husband's face comes in a close second.