When people ask me how long I've been in the SCA, what do I tell them - the date that I first heard of it, or when I first actually joined?
— Don't Know How to Answer in An CrosaireDear Don't Know,
The SCA is unique when the topic of "So, how long have YOU been around?" comes up. Perhaps it's a form of one-upsmanship, but nearly everybody in the SCA answers that question with the date they first heard of the Society. One's discovery of the SCA may not be that dramatic — "Hey, there's a bunch of weirdos in Medieval costume hanging around the Student Union!" — but it makes an indelible impression in the mind of a SCAdian, so much so that the date of "first contact" replaces the date of actual participation. The accepted answer to the question these days is, "I heard of the SCA in 1980, I attended my first event in 1986." However, if you don't feel the need to exaggerate, just give the date of the first event you attended.
Some of my friends are having problems. One is a gentlewoman who wants to wear a circlet to complete her outfit but doesn't have an AOA (the nerve!), one is a lord who feels pressured to get into fighting, and the third is a lady who feels inadequate because she doesn't enjoy making garb. What do I tell these good gentles?
— Your Friend, The AbbotDear Abbot,
Here we go again! If I didn't know any better, I'd think you were having me write your own advice column! For the gentlewoman who desires a circlet — while it's true that we in the Society tend do discourage the pursuit of an award for personal glory only, I can't fault her for wanting a fashion accessory. Tell her that she can tie a ribbon around her forehead. Far from resembling the early 1980's Olivia Newton John sweatband look, a dainty satin ribbon of 1/4" will conform to sumptuary laws AND is period, especially for the Italian Renaissance.
And, if she really wants a circlet and the traditional service to the kingdom thing isn't working, there's a couple of powerful fighters in need of consorts who may be able to buy her an AOA. I'm not sure what kind of "service" they would expect for that, however.
As for the non-fighting lord and the non-sewing lady, we need to get these two kids together, they were made for each other. Fighting and sewing garb are both important, but by no means are they the only activities the SCA has to offer. There's no law stating lords must fight and ladies must sew. As you know, there are many ladies that fight and a few lords that create garb!
Abbot, this is the last time I bail you out. You owe me one indulgence, one holy relic, and a dozen donuts.
Confidential to "Does The Entire Kingdom Know?" — In a word, yes. What do you expect when you engage in certain noisy nocturnal activities in a tent? Fabric walls do not provide much privacy. Don't worry, people will stop making fun of you when the next couple commits the same faux pas.