I Didn't Expect An Inquisition
"Evolution Of An Attitude"
By Sir Guillaume "Sometimes It Just Don't Make Sense" de la Belgique

Whenever I'm feeling discouraged because I've just spent an entire fighter practice being pounded into the ground like a tent peg by fighters who, I believe, are actually younger than some of my shoelaces, I try to boost my morale by working out at the gym. There, I can hear burly, sweating men express such masculine, virile sentiments such as, "Hooooooo-rawf!" while lifting barbells the size of small mini-vans with their necks! This does not necessarily make me feel better, but at least when I'm done my arms hurt so badly that I forget what I was upset about while I try to devise new ways to eat without using any muscles below my shoulders. While I often spend time in the weight room with the Hoo-rawf crowd, I also work out on the Stairmaster machine because, A) building cardiovascular endurance leads to enhanced athletic ability, and B) it gives me a chance to leer at leotard-wearing women in the aerobics area from the second story balcony. (Fortunately, I've managed to convince Felinah that in my nearly transcendental state of pure endorphin-induced concentration I am completely oblivious to my surroundings.) After about 30 minutes of struggling with this ridiculous machine, which seems to be deliberately stretching out each passing second longer and longer, I begin to read the witty and colorful slogans on some of the tee-shirts the Hoo-rawf bodybuilders are wearing. The most popular these days is the "No Fear" shirt. I saw one the other day which read: "Seventh game of the world series, bottom of the ninth, two men on base, the pitcher has a mouthful of tobacco and nowhere to spit ... No Fear." (Yes, Sir Ryan, I know that was a baseball joke. I had some of the guys at work explain it to me.) A whole new generation of people in this country find the "No Fear" attitude very admirable, and it's not difficult to understand why: Everyone wants to be fearless, valiant, and unstoppable. These young people will be our next generation of doctors, lawyers, plumbers and accountants. They will also very likely be our new pelicans, dukes, laurels and knights. Perhaps we need a No Fear SCA shirt which reads: "Ninth round of Queen's Champion. Sir Atilla is using his 'fast' pole arm. Jarl Ivan has been eating nothing but raw meat for weeks. Sir Gavin can hammer a 20d nail into solid oak with a single blow. And Duke Guy just sent three unbelted fighters to the hospital. Negatus panicum." Certainly in the middle ages, "No Fear" would have been a rallying cry of knights going into battle. When the king orders you to charge your 2,000-pound warhorse into a wall of sharp iron spears, you can't stop to say, "Wait, this is stupid! Somebody might put an eye out!" We have, however, progressed away from the brutal reality of the Middle Ages, with the possible exception of the audit bureau of the IRS. Let's face it, whether we're talking about football or SCA combat, what we're participating in is just a game. If we really do fear what we do for recreation (or re-creation), maybe it's time to reconsider how we spend our leisure time. For the Current Middle Ages, a real "No Fear" slogan should read something like this: "It's 1 a.m. and Coronation starts in eight hours. The embroidered Gothic vinework on your new bliaut - which you loudly announced to Master Giles would be more authentic than anything the laurels could come up with - is almost finished. On the first sleeve. Two hours ago your lord told you he needed a new pair of arming pants for Queen's Champion. Then he went to bed. And you're supposed to be making meat pies for the Royal luncheon your household is hosting..." Or, perhaps: "Baronial council starts in 20 minutes. Twelve different households want to autocrat crown tourney. The anniversary coordinator plans to decorate the feast hall in Neo-Cubist style and hire a band called 'Crazy Ned & The Pounding Headaches.' And the pottery guild is requesting $1,200 of SCA funds to make a full sized Byzantine Imperial mosaic - of Homer Simpson..." In a world which often seems paralyzed by indecision, confusion and conflicting obligations, it's easy to see why people - especially young people - admire the willingness to plunge forward without fear. The Western World has held such decisive action in great esteem ever since Alexander cut the Gordian knot. Unfortunately, the implied message behind "No Fear" is "No Mercy." No compassion. No consideration for the welfare of others. No sympathy for the people who may be trampled by such ruthless behavior. In short, "No Chivalry." That's the unspoken message we send when we get swept up into the desire to overcome all obstacles. I'm just as guilty as anyone of admiring the No Fear, Hoo-Rawf, Take No Prisoners mental attitude. Just like every other fighter, I fantasize about stepping onto the tourney field and launching a relentless attack. I'd grab hold of my opponent's shield with one hand, catch his sword in my teeth and throw a mighty blow which would drive him to the ground with its sheer force, then I'd rip off his armor and hold up his battered corpse as an offering to the all-powerful Sun God! Aaarrr!... (Don't worry. These kind of delusions are normal after 45 minutes on the Stairmaster. At least that's what the trainers tell me just before they ask me to sign a membership renewal contract.) As I was perched up there on the Stairmaster watching the grunting, frothing, No Fear bodybuilders, I noticed another fellow with a unique weight lifter's belt. On the back was stenciled: "Positive thoughts produce positive results." He was alone on a weight bench, quietly doing his exercises without any extraneous howling or spitting. And, in between his sets, I noticed he was smiling. I've pushed myself to my absolute limit in many fast and furious fights, and I've no doubt lost more than I've won. Although there are probably some fighters who thrive on "No Fear," I find the fights I've enjoyed most are the ones where I smile and joke with my opponent, giving him (or her) all the time and space necessary to fight the best possible fight, and, in return, finding that I'm pushing myself to fight just a little bit better. Any athlete can stomp their opposition into the turf. Perhaps it is the mark of chivalry that when we strive for excellence, we also try to elevate our opponents to their highest level of performance too. A unique mixture of "No Fear" and "Positive Thoughts" which, unfortunately, doesn't seem to help in the struggle to survive a full hour on the Stairmaster. Hoo-rawf! Copyright Reserved to Scott Farrell

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