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The Crown Tourney paperwork got submitted this morning. I filled it out, got it signed and witnessed, and fired it off by Express Post at 08:05 today. It’s dealt with, and contingent on Their Highness’ approval, I’m going to fight at Crown Tourney for the first time ever.

The tournament will start with be a best-two-out-of-three round robin, and the top four fighters from the round robin tournament will proceed to the finals. The finals will be the best of five rounds with each round being best-two-out-of-three; Their Highnesses have set those five rounds in a specific format: Round one will be fought with polearms; round two with 6’ spears;
round three with weapon-and-shield; round four (if necessary) with matched weapons, the form to be chosen by the combatant of higher precedence; round five (if necessary) with matched weapons, the form chosen by the combatant of lower precedence.

Sounds complicated? It is. However, I’m unlikely to need to worry about anything more than the initial round robin tournament. That doesn’t change the fact that I need to train as though I’m going to be in the final four: I’m going to practice fighting with the 6′ spear, I have a polearm, my shield needs repainting before the day so I can fight sword-and-board, and I’m bringing my favourite longsword, hopefully to fight with matched longswords at some point — I love fighting with matched longswords. In fact, I love fighting with matched longswords so much I’m going to do my level best to make it to the finals just so that I can be sure I’ll get the chance to fight with matched longswords.

What’s interesting — and somewhat ironic — is how much the Crown-Tourney-application-process resembles the getting-married-process. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting ready for both events simultaneously. Getting married requires a bunch of paperwork; so does Crown Tourney. I go to fight practices, I have a training regimen in the back yard, I work on my armour and equipment and I ask the more experienced fighters for tips; I also go to dance practice, I have a diet to maintain, I’ve got a custom-fitted suit made and I’ve been soliciting advice from my married (and formerly-married) friends. (The primary piece of advice seems to be “just relax and enjoy the wedding; it’s just one day.”)

The getting-married-process is much more important, of course (and I’m not just saying that because The Fiancée™ reads this blog) but it feels like a lot of stuff I’ve been working on for the last few years is all coming together at once: my fighting has been leading up to one thing and my relationship has been leading up to another. The reason I’m concentrating so much on Crown, despite the fact that we’ve got more than enough on our plates for the wedding, is that it gives me the chance to symbolically combine the two streams in my life — the SCA and our relationship — in one grand gesture for our community to see. Or to be less poetic about it: it lets me show off my fighting and my partner at the same time.

Yep, I’m putting this much effort into Crown Tourney because it gives me a venue to brag about my amazing spouse. Not that I’d be so gauche as to actually brag, of course, instead I shall borrow a charming phrase I learned from Conan Doyle’s Sir Nigel and act as “a gentleman who desires to advance himself and to venture his body for the exaltation of his lady.”

I get teased a bit by some of my non-SCA friends who don’t really understand why I go to all this time and effort over what is basically an elaborate role-playing game. And I’ve tried to address that before on this blog, but I think the simplest way to explain is this: I’m a romantic. I was raised on stories of King Arthur, on fantasy novels, and on promises of happy endings. And when I grew up, I found out that the world wasn’t like that. To quote Robert Heinlein: “I wanted Prester John, and Excalibur held by a white arm out of a silent lake. I wanted to sail with Ulysses and with Tros of Samothrace and eat the lotus in a land that seemed always afternoon. I wanted the feeling of romance and the sense of wonder that I had known as a kid. I wanted the world to be what they promised me it was going to be — instead of the tawdry, lousy, fouled-up mess it is.

So I tried to fix it. And when I got emotionally banged-up after spending years fighting to remake the real world, I started playing a game where we built a world which was like that instead. And I met someone, and we fell in love, and we’re not leaving the Society anytime soon, so I want to demonstrate my love by the rules and customs of this make-believe world we’ve built. The real world, despite TV and movies, actually doesn’t give much of a shit about a happy couple making a lifelong commitment — it just tries to sell them stuff. In the SCA, I can make the grand, romantic gestures and know that they’ll be understood and appreciated by the people around me… and especially by the person for whom I’m making the gesture.

So that’s why I do it… and that’s why I’ll be sweating it out over the next few weeks getting ready in order to do it the best that I can.