Some background for non-scadian readers: For those that don’t know, I’m active in a group called the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). Specifically, I live in the East Kingdom. I’ve been involved since I was 16 and I’m most interested in historical fencing. I’ve received an award called the Order of the Golden Rapier (or OGR for short). This is highest level award you can receive in the East Kingdom for skill and service to fencing. Forgive me as I slip some common SCA terms into this post.
As such, I can establish a formal relationship with another fencer as a student. They are known as your ‘cadet’. This is symbolized with a blue scarf on the arm of the cadet. My job, as their teacher (also known by my title ‘Don’), is to teach them what it means to *be* a member of the OGR, and (hopefully) eventually prepare them for inclusion. This is not only about fencing skill, but about service, teaching, and other aspects of the SCA.
A little over two years ago, I took my first cadet. His name was Collin Monroe. Now, Collin wasn’t particularly new to fencing, in fact he was kind of par-boiled. So the amount of spit and polish needed wasn’t as severe as it could have been with a less experienced fencer. The thing about the Don/Cadet relationship though is that it isn’t just about us. He continues to work with other people and teachers and constantly hones his skills. He was actually close enough to another fencer, Doña Marion del Okes, that he referred to her as his ‘fairy God Doña’.
This weekend was Southern Regional Warcamp, Collin was inducted into the order. Although several people asked me when he was getting his OGR, I wasn’t about to put his name forward for the polling until I felt that he was ready. Then, on the last royal polling it was finally time. So I’ve known for about two months now that the polling went well and the King and Queen decided to induct him. Of course, I had to tell everyone in Tadcaster. That is our fencing academy and household. I’m *so* glad everyone managed to keep the secret.
First order of business was making sure that he had a pin. I ordered it from a jeweller in Philadelphia called Glass on Gold. At first I wanted to give him my medallion as a heritage kinda thingy. Then I thought more about it and decided a gift from the academy would be more appropriate. So I contacted everyone and let them know what the price would be and get folks to throw some cash my way. We had a choice of bronze or gold with the enamel. Though the gold was more expensive, with everyone chipping in it was more reasonable for me. Obviously this was a dress piece meant to be worn in court and not on the battlefield. I arranged for the award to be given at an event I knew he would be attending. I also let his wife know so that she could make sure that the whole family was there.
Then, I wanted to make sure that he had a proper OGR-level scroll. I contacted our friend Madame Brunissende de Broceliande to prepare the scroll and Lady Katryne to do the wording. It turned out awesome! Bruni worked very hard on the scroll. So hard in fact, that she couldn’t keep herself from mentioning ‘the scroll’ in her LJ posts. That got Collin’s suspicions up. While she didn’t say it was his, she did mention it was a fencing scroll. That’s ok. I still forgive her.. he was *mostly* in the dark. The scroll wound up being an image of a fencing manual plate showing two fencers with bucklers (one of Collin’s favorite forms). The winning fencer was impaling the loser through the chest while deflecting the incoming shot with his buckler. Bruni put Collin’s device on the winning fencer’s buckler and it looked really great!
I wanted to give Collin something from me personally, so I worked on creating a portable sword rack for him to take to events and display/hold all his weapons when he fought. Not being a woodworker, I definately bit off more than I could chew. Luckily, my friend Andre *does* do woodworking, and he was able to help me out. You can tell it was ‘help’ rather than ‘do’, because there are some obvious mistakes. Thing is, I’m hoping it’s more personal that way.
When the big day finally arrived, I had all these plans for the presentation of the pin and sword rack and what I would say. Hell, I used to do theater. I could project my voice. Nope. I got choked up. I managed to squeak out my speech and stumbled through it. No one heard me except Collin and the King and Queen who were 4 feet away. As I groused later about all the things that went wrong (I need more practice in court), my friend Don Pascual said to me “Did you say it from here (pointed to his heart)? Then nothing you said or did was wrong.”. I keep trying to take that to heart (literally), but the perfectionist in me keeps jumping up and down in the back of my head. Not only did I have his dress pin for him but I had a broze medallion from Marion that was designed to be worn while fighting. Awesome! To complicate matters, the Queen also had a pin for him. Now he has 3! I only have one *sniff*. I’m out swagged by my former cadet already.
What went right:
- Surrounded by his friends and family
- Mostly a surprise
- Awesome scroll that managed to stay dry during the rain
- Good court heraldry
- He’s still wearing his medallion 4 days later!
- My speech (while quiet) was extremely heartfelt
- My wife’s great tasting cake with the OGR badge and congrats on it
- Collin defended the Iron Ring three times, incuding against two other OGRs the day of his induction (he still hasn’t taken a challenge from me yet though FWIW)
What went wrong
- -The K&Q already had a pin for him and almost excused him out of court before I could run up and give him the pin and medallion I had for him
- -I turned my back to the queen when talking to Collin and should have given her the pin to present to him
- -I got choked up and couldn’t be heard by the crowd, the rest of the OGRs (15 feet away), only by Collin and the royalty
- -I forgot to take his cadet’s scarf off
- -Didn’t get any pictures because my wife was dealing with two twins. Hoping others got some good pictures I can mooch.
- Sword Rack
- -I didn’t have time to paint his device on the side of the sword rack
- -Some of the stain ran and colored the horizontal more than I wanted to
- -I forgot to take pictures while a) making it b) before giving it to him c) after I gave it to him
- -It was raining and made for some very miserable people and family members.
- -The cake cracked in the middle during transport so it broke right in the middle of the OGR badge. Maybe that was a sign.
- -Forgot to take a picture of the cake.
- -Forgot to get pictures of me and Collin together afterwards in camp.
Blech. So ok, I listed more bad than good. But you know what? Overall I still feel really good about the whole thing. The screwups were minor (overall), and they can be overlooked or resolved (such as the picture thing). It’s been a wonderful two years. Collin has decided to keep the cadet scarf for himself and pass it along to his first cadet. That’s really cool. I’m looking forward to Pennsic this year. It’ll be our first time back in 3 years. Unfortunately, Collin and his family will not be attending because of vacation conflicts. I was really looking forward to fighting alongside him in the melees, etc, as my peer and not as my student any longer. Guess that will have to wait. It’s not like I haven’t felt like that for quite some time now. The title doesn’t suddenly change that. We’ve got many years in the SCA together in the future.
Nice long post. I’m sure I missed a few things. Maybe I’ll have a followup later. Either that or the rabid masses can remind me what I’ve forgotten in the comments.
[Listening to: Kiss Me – Melissa Etheridge – Lucky]