Monday, January 12, 2015

Jousting: In which Uncle Olaf gets banned from go-karts.

So I promised the esteemed Mr. Ringo a story... a story about go-karts. Stop me if you've heard this one. Actually don't... siddown and shut up. You know you like the story... unfortunately, this version is missing missing wild hand gestures, sound effects, and suffers from an excess of sobriety. Apologies. Drink some whiskey and pretend.

The following story is true to the best of my recollection. Any mistakes are purely mine, but I will probably blame you anyway. Names have not been changed to protect the innocent, because I have met them all, and they're really not all that innocent...

So years ago, early in my SCA days, Dwarf had a birthday party at his place in Vermont. This was not an SCA event, though most of us there were in the SCA, including our Princess (at the time) Marieke. During the day we had some fighting and other assorted games, including "kaber tossing" with 4x4 posts.

The fighting had would down and the bunch of us from Outpost had packed to leave when someone got a brilliant idea... let's joust! On go-karts!!! For the record... everyone involved was sober (at the time).

"We need to go." I said. "Now".
"No, let's stay, I want to watch!!!"
"If we stay, I WILL end up on one of the karts."
"It will be fine!!!"

So the rules were decided on... the small karts would hold (barely) one driver and one "jouster". The jouster had to balance precariously on the side of the kart with a spear in one hand while the driver played the part of the horse... making them go and aiming them in the (more or less) right direction. They decided that only the jouster needed to be armoured (helm and body armour) as the driver was off limits. Seemed reasonable... All this worked out, they armed and armoured themselves, and got ready to joust.

As far as I recall, the teams were Dwarf & Wulfhere on one kart, and Egil & Cenwulf on the other. As Egil walked by the spectators getting his helmet ready, one of the bystanders said "I have a bad feeling about this."
"Me too!" said Egil... then he put on his helmet and hopped on the kart. Now anyone wo has EVER met Egil knows, when he says something is a bad idea, you really should very quickly reach minimum safe distance... if there is one.

They made several passes around the yard, and it seemed Egil's kart wasn't really maneuvering well or getting up speed. It came to a halt in front of me, Cenwulf tumbling out of the driver's seat.

"I need a lighter driver... get on!!!" said Egil.

What was I to do? No choice, really... I got on.

At the point we switched, Dwarf was on the other side of the house. All he knew was that we were suddenly tearing by at a much higher rate of speed. I quickly realized that I could only really turn right... if I turned the other way, it dumped Egil off the side, possibly getting him run over.
We made a few passes, with the jousters landing some good hits on each other. At one point when a spear grazed my ear, I thought to myself "Huh... maybe a helmet would have been a good idea..."

Shortly after this, after turning around at the top of the yard, things went sideways. I realized that my trajectory was such that I was faced with a choice. I wasn't going to clear the other kart... I could either hit them head on, hit the crowd of spectators (which included the Princess), or crank the wheel left, hope Egil survived the fall from the kart, and hope I could spike the brakes in time to not slam into the trees that were there.

I chose the last option, as it seemed to endanger the fewest people.... I cranked left hard, and lo and behold Egil didn't fly off! Yay! Except... Egil was leaning down hard on my gas pedal foot... and we went full speed into the trees.

When we hit, Egil went flying off, ripping his helmet off and cutting his chin when he landed. My death grip on the steering wheel snapped it off in my hands, and the shattered remains of the steering column cut my leg... making a near perfect flyflot, the mark of Thor's hammer.

Everyone came running to check me out. Only one person went to look at Egil... and she happened to be young, pretty, and wearing a skirt. Everyone decided I was fine when I told them to move because they were blocking my view. (I really am a terrible person, fundamentally...)

After getting the bleeding from my leg stopped, and apologizing to Dwarf for breaking his go-kart (sorry again Dwarf...) I went to apologize to Egil. Told him "Sorry dude... I tried to stop, but you were leaning on my gas pedal leg..."

"That was awesome driving man!" he replied. "Of course I was leaning on your leg, I didn't want you to STOP!!!"

My wife banned me from go-karts for years after that....

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