A Medieval Time (366th new thing).

March 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

With one final activity left in my year of new things, I figured I should do something that would never cross my radar under any other circumstance. So I gathered up a few friends to celebrate turning thirty at Medieval Times. Day Three Hundred Sixty-Six, baby.


Overall, I was incredibly excited about the adventure. While working earlier in the day I expressed a little joyous anticipation under the guise of snarkiness to a coworker. In sarcastic teenage voice: “Dude, I’m like, going to Medieval Times! Seriously!” He enthralled me with the tale of his trip to the California location. He described each course with the same enthusiasm as a new waiter at a happening suburban franchise. “First, we had bruschetta,” (said with faux Italian accent), “and then a creamy tomato bisque that tasted deliciously spicy.” He licked his lips at the memory.

“Then we-” (he and his mysterious girlfriend) “each got half a chicken. HALF a chicken. Roasted to perfection. And the soda refills were free. We even had a perfectly seasoned potato! For dessert there was melt in your mouth chocolate cake or a tasty Danish.” Maybe Medieval Times had gotten a bad rap. Or maybe the Yelpers who visited the Duluth location were just missing out on the California gourmet version.

We opted to pregame at the tiny Chili’s at Discover Mills after reading reviews about pricey brews inside the Renaissance-themed restaurant. I may have had a shot, but hey, you only turn 30 once, right?

A Knight to Remember, indeed.

A Knight to Remember, indeed.

Once we walked through the entrance a tunic-clad photographer took our picture with the “King.” Erin and Tyler ended up gifting the cardboard framed image to me, and it sits proudly displayed in my kitchen. They are the only two in the photo with any semblance of natural ease. The King looks creepy, as though he is about to devour some maidens. I look like I accidentally wandered in from the mall outside and Patrick is so far away that he could have wandered in from another group. Andre threw out a peace sign, or lost a game against the rock.

We stopped by the bar en route to our section and found that the beers weren’t priced too outrageously; they were on par with an MLB game, but draft.

We sat in the yellow section, which meant we wore yellow crowns and cheered for the Yellow Knight with his flowing blond locks. You could pay more to be seated at the equivalent of the fifty-yard line, and presumably one of those knights also won the tournament. Poor Yellow Knight.

Go, Yellow Knight!

Go, Yellow Knight!

While pomp and circumstance ruled the sandy floor, we tucked into our gourmet meal, except it wasn’t gourmet. The spicy tomato bisque turned out to be a bowl of Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup and the garlic bread was my childhood favorite Texas Toast. We did get half a small bird (“Fresh Falcon” our serving wench declared as it was plopped onto our pewter plates). Then we had half a baked potato (“Dragon’s Egg”), and one rib (“Dragon’s Claw”). It really wasn’t that bad, considering our surroundings.

At one point during dessert (Hostess-like cakes) the knights rode around flirting with the women sitting in the front rows. The Black and White Knight sauntered over to our section to chat with a young buxom woman so I heckled him. I mean, he was a fifty-yard line knight. If I had paid an extra ten bucks a ticket to see him, I would probably resent the fact that he was flirting with other sections. Mostly, I found offense in the “bored-knight-I-only-do-this-for-the-chicks” look about him. And to the lady on the receiving end of his sneers: He was competing against OUR Yellow Knight. Have some pride.

Tell me this isn't the face of smarminess.

Tell me this isn’t the face of smarminess.

Heroic Battling


Then the “battles” began. The knights competed against each other in a staged tournament. We boldly cheered on our beloved Yellow Knight, hollering, “We’ve got Yellow Fever!” into the stadium at Patrick’s suggestion. I found our cheer hilarious. When the Yellow Knight was down a few points, we turned our crowns upside down into rally caps. But it didn’t help. The Red Knight evilly defeated him. I suppose he died heroically.

Rally Crowns and a Rose

Rally Crowns and a Rose

After that my allegiance moved to anyone fighting the Black and White Knight. He won it all, of course.

This is how I will always remember our Yellow Knight.


Bronzed (365th new thing).

March 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

My Inspiration…

I am a naturally pale person. I burn far more easily than I would tan. Instead of bronzing under the sun, I freckle. My only hope for an all over browning is if all my little freckles merge together into a beige coat of armor. On Day Three Hundred Sixty-Five I was originally scheduled to take a trip in a hot air balloon, but due to high winds it had been cancelled (for the fifth time). Instead, I opted to combat my paleness with a visit to a spray tanning booth.

I was excited about the prospect of, for the first time in my life, walking out looking as though I had returned from a real beach vacation (minus the sun damage). I knew the most likely end result of the fake tan would be an orange sheen, but as my year of new things was coming to a close I figured it would at least be an entertaining experience. At least for people who had to look at me.

The super orange attendant led me back to a tiled room. He pointed out the wall-mounted instructions and emphasized pre-lotioning all the body parts I didn’t want sprayed. Toenails, fingernails, knuckles…between my toes and fingers too. And try not to squint. He left and I stripped down to the shower cap provided, entered the tiled room, and pressed the big red “start” button.

There was a count down, then tiny jets of pigmentation began to move up and down my body. I squinted. It was difficult to breathe as I stood with my arms held slightly away from my sides. The jets moved down and up, side to side, over my front.. There was a pause after twenty seconds for me to take a breath. Then I turned so the tan could wash over my back. I moved my arms above my head, positioned like I was going through the airport scanner and held my breath again.

Then it was done. I wiped off my hands, feet, elbows, and knees. I cleaned out my ears while I waited to dry enough to garment myself. I smelled slightly chemically, but it was a sort of warm odor, like cocoa butter crossed with dye.

On the thirty minute drive home I could see the “tan” developing on my arms. If I cropped my vision to just my forearm, I felt pretty good about the experience. Then looking down at my hands I clearly saw the delineation between pre-tanning lotion application and orange. My knuckles and wrists had accrued far more pigmentation than the white space between my fingers. There was no debating the fact that my tan was F-A-K-E.

Most people didn’t notice my increased coloring (it’s what happens when you are forever pale), and the orange wore off in a few days so there weren’t any lasting effects. Well, maybe a faint orange line at all my body’s creases, but those were gone within a week.

I’m glad I tried it out, but there’s no way I will fake tan again. Sorry beachcombers, I will continue to reflect the sunlight off my blue-tinged legs and cause you to shield your eyes.

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