There is one "incident" I wish to relate from the RenFaire, largely because I know it will silently fester in the back of my thoughts and spring to the forefront at odd times. At the faire, there were a number of vendors selling all manner of RenFaire-related items. Yes, that is self-referential. No, I don't care. Most of the items were of little-to-no interest to me. The swords were nice, and a little tempting, but practicality is a harsh mistress. As are the credit card companies, banks and my checkbook.
One item did catch my eye. It was a plastic statue thing featuring a scantily-clad, well-endowed, winged woman in front of (reclining on?) a comparatively large crucifix (stretching about the same height and width as the arms-stretched woman) located behind a casket. The lid of the casket was removable for holding some manner of small trinkets or jewelry. Other than the lid, the piece appeared to be solid, dark gray plastic and retailed for $30.
I do not believe I have spoke often of my artistic and aesthetic tastes, and I do have some concretely-defined ones of which I am very aware, but winged women and gothic imagery (e.g., graveyards, caskets, gravestones, visages of death, skeletal figures, etc.) are way up there for me. Long ago during my action figure-buying days, and I do not believe I have spoke at length on that hobby either, winged figures counted pretty high on my list. Well-endowed, scantily-clad females, too. And I'm not afraid to shell out some money for artistic items that appeal to me. I planned on purchasing this piece.
But I made a mistake. As I was walking with 3 friends to the next show we planned to see, we passed this stall and, not too long thereafter, I commented that there was something I wished to procure. These being curious friends and us not being in a rush, they sought further explanation. To wit, "What is it?" So I said something like "Oh fine" and led them over to the piece.
Whereupon one of my friends, a slightly-older woman, said something like "It's nice if you like p-rnography."
I immediately knew what I had to do and I did just that. I put the statue down, turned away, and walked with them to the next event. While I knew that I could still buy it, I also knew that if I did either I would have to confront that statement (i.e., define it as not p-rnography and argue the point) or I would have to own the statement (i.e., accept it as p-rnography and accept the characterization it entails). There's no middle ground there and, since these are people I see on an almost weekly basis, there's no chance of such a purchase going unremarked or unnoticed. I did not wish to confront the statement – there should be no need for me to convince someone else, someone who has no stake in the purchase whatsoever, that it is not p-rnography, that I considered it art. So I let it go.
Part of me is sore with this friend for forcing me to do what I did. Honestly, it was not p-rnographic. Perhaps not in the best of tastes, most likely not worth $30, but it was not "p-rnography." And whatever her personal views on such artistic styles, it was not her place to disparage my tastes.
Also long ago, I decided to own my artistic tastes and hobbies, no matter other people's view of them. E.g., action figures, comic books and graphic novels, art styles, movie watching, computer games, etc. It is something I still have to push at every now and then, to be who I am and like what I like with fewer reservations. This small incident hit that nerve, too. I did not want to assume the concomitant associations that would have been present if I had actually bought the statue.
Sometimes I act differently when I am with friends. I accept that people wear different masks at different times for different purposes and I am no different. But for the people I was with that day, I probably would have purchased the statue.
Also but for the people I was with that day, I probably would have spoken with the woman who ran the Cirque du Sewer event. I.e., the rat-lady. I thought she was kind of cute, and I appreciated her love for her rats. It would have been cool to see them up close, hold one if permitted, etc. I love animals and I readily appreciate other people who similarly do, whether the animals are dogs, cats, birds or rats. I thought about talking with her after the show, but I didn't feel like I could since I was there with some friends. I didn't want to accept or own up to it. I probably should have done it anyways, particularly since it's so rare that I ever contemplate such things. And it would have made for a good story. And it might have been fun and interesting. But I didn't.
I do not regret the things I've done but those I did not do.
(Paraphrased from Empire Records)
P.S. Best names evah for pet rats: Bubonic and Pandemic. (Though I also would have accepted Epidemic.)