How much fun were the Middle Ages?

Depends on who you ask. The lords and knights had to walk around in all that metal. One wonders what happened when the knight had to go toilet. Couldn’t toilet on the armor. That would cause rust. Think of all the blisters on their assets, and the metal poisoning too. Then there’s the draft. In those days it wasn’t the serfs who went off to war. It was the knights. And there’s the castle upkeep. It was hard to get a decent moat. What is a castle without a decent moat?

Of course, these knights would fight over anything. My castle is bigger than your castle.You have a moat and I don’t.  I killed more infidels in the Crusade than you did.. You name it and they would fight over it. They spent thirty years fighting over whose rose was prettier in England.

If there had been an SPCA in those days, the knights would have been fined for mistreatment of the horses they rode. The horses had to carry around the weight. No wonder they had bent backs.

If you were a lady, you were required to wear el chastity belt. Man, that thing is heavy. Besides what do you do if you have to go take a pee and your hubby is off at the crusades. Who is going to have the key? Lady Godiva really wasn’t in her all-togethers. She still had on her c.b. But she’d always wanted to go into showbiz. Riding through the town in her purt-nears was as close to Vegas as a girl got in merry old England.

The serfs were a little better off. They only worked two seasons of the year, Spring and The Rest of the Year. They didn’t get drafted because they had to stay home and keep the old homestead going. The crops went to the lord and lady of the manor, who were living high off the hog. All the serfs ate was gruel, except at Harvest Time. Harvest Time was a regular party after they brought in the crops. There was real food and booze too. The nice thing about serfing was they didn’t have to wear underwear, so during the summers they’d go skinny-dipping.

Often the castle was downwind of the serf. From time to time on a particularly windy day in winter time, the lord and lady of the manor complained about the smell. The serfs only took baths in the summer. The rest of the year it was the old pee yew.

In fact, nobody worried about taking a bath. That’s why they had pilgrimages and why England had a town named Bath. Once a year everybody took off and went on a pilgrimage to a town that had baths.

Then there was the Plague, or should I say Plagues. The Black Death. The Blue Death. The Red Death. Here a death, there a death, everywhere a death death death. That’s what they get for living with all those rats. A few cats could have gotten rid of all that disease. Why my Buster Buzztail can take down as many rats as he sees in one day. You think we have rats here at our house. No way, José.

Now, if you were Pope, you could really party hardy. All the booze and women you wanted. You could come up with an indulgence to keep you out of hell. If you were bored you could start a Crusade. As you can see, being Pope was the bees knees and more.

The people who had the most fun were the Bards. They got the best booze and the women loved them. You see, in those days, there was no such thing as You Tube or CNN or Fox. So the Bards were the news anchors of their times. If you wanted to know what Uncle Waldo did at the Battle of Agincourt, just ask the Bard. If you wanted to know why the king down the road turned chickenshit and ran away from Saluddin, ask your Bard. If you wanted to know what great granddaddy Groucho was during the First Crusade, ask the Bard. He’d tell you and he’d make it rhyme too.

To paraphrase one of the great bards of our age, Mel Brooks, “It’s good to be the bard.” Bards didn’t have to wear armor or a chastity belt. Bards didn’t need a moat. Bards got to take baths. And the clothes, man. If you wanted to know what the latest men’s fashions were, check in with a bard. He’d be wearing them, and he’d have photos of the latest fashion show in Paris. As you can see, it was a pretty good life. For a Bard.

Movie of the Week:”A Knight’s Tale”

A Knight’s Tale, directed by Brian Helgeland.

This is the story about a working class boy making good. It’s also a movie about sports. Not the way we usually think about them. It goes to the essence of why sport became so important. It’s about preparing young men for war. Whether it was the ancient Greeks at Olympus, the Romans chariot racing around the arena, it is always preparation for war. It is about life and death. And it was definitely that way in the Middle Ages. Jousting was their version of football.

If a movie about the sport of jousting can have a smile on its face, that movie is “A Knight’s Tale”. William Thatcher’s meal ticket dies on the road to a tournament. His master, Sir What’s His Name, is over-the-hill and he dies under a tree on a nice spring day. His squire Thatcher (played by Heath Ledger) and his two buddies have a problem. They are hungry, and they have no cash. Squire William isn’t rightly qualified to do a knight’s job. He is a commoner. Only a noble is allowed to get on a horse, pick up a large tree trunk and charge towards another man on another horse and with another large tree trunk. But William has been squiring for a while, doing what a squire does. Learning the knight business.

So off to the joust William goes and does it to the sound of Queen and “We Will Rock You”. Like they say in the movies, he scores one for the gipper. He knocks a man off his horse. You think it’s easy. You try it on the back of a horse, wearing fifty pounds of steel armor and with a wooden lance, nine to fourteen feet long. Just balancing yourself requires skill. Now that William has a taste of success, he wants more.He convinces his companions that more is possible. All it will take is a knight’s version of spring training.

There is only one problem. William is not a noble. As William and his fellows head toward the next tournament, they come across a naked man. Says his name is Geoffrey Chaucer. He has had a run of bad luck. He has a gambling problem. But he is William’s answer to a prayer. He is a literate man and a good forger. Good enough to create papers to give William the noble family he needs to be able to play with the big boys. Chaucer transforms William Thatcher into Sir Ulrick. Since there was no internet in those days, nobody can check on the authenticity of those papers.

So far so good. Team Ulrick are off to the medieval version of a city and there they are “taking care of business.” Geof Chaucer, now Sir Ulrick’s herald, proves he can announce his master’s arrival to the joust with flair. But, during the joust, William shows a side of himself that another knight sees as weakness. He shows mercy. For a knight to be a knight, it is not enough to be good at a joust. A knight is a knight when he is chivalrous and chivalry means a knight should be merciful.

Like the good sports movie it is, “A Knight’s Tale” has only begun the struggle of Sir Ulrich’s rise to knighthood. He does it with a soundtrack that really kicks butt. Before our hero can prove his worth on the jousting field, he must prove his worth on the dance floor. Sir Ulrich boogies to David Bowie’s “Golden Years”, giving his fellow party-goers a lesson in dancing. It’s all enough to make the lady he loves fall in love with him. Looks like the working-class fellow is a winner in love and in war. He even impresses a royal.

Then, just as things are looking good for Ulrich, they slip away. When you are on top of the world, sometimes life takes you down a peg or two. Team Ulrich arrives in London for the World Jousting Championship to the music of “The Boys Are Back in Town”. All the hard work they have put in is about to pay off. Unfortunately Sir Nasty, Count Adhemar, has other plans. He has not been won over by Ulrich’s winsome ways. For him, all is fair in love and jousting.

“A Knight’s Tale” has its ups and downs, its winnings and losses. Otherwise it wouldn’t be the sports movie it is. Like the really good ones, it shows us that which is the best in all of us. Sometimes all we can do is crawl back on our horse, take up our tree trunk and charge into battle to the song, “We are the Champions of the World”.

Do you have a favorite sports movie?

If you have an itch, scratch it. If you see a dragon, watch out.

Sir Packs-a-whallup was an old school knight if there ever was one. None of that going off to a Crusade just for the sake of knocking a few heathen heads around like croquet balls. Any lord in a tin can could do that. A knight didn’t have to go all the way to the Holy Land to rape, pillage and loot. If he ran out of rpl’s in Merry Olde England, there was always France.

Unfortunately the Pope didn’t give out “Get out of Jail Free” cards for France or England. It was the Holy Land or Bust. Sir’s comment on the the Papal draft and staying home, “At least, you get warm weather in hell. This English weather just kills me.”

You see, many a knight had gone bust by going off half-cocked to Jerusalem. Besides they had to leave their ladyships behind for any Sir Tom, Sir Dick or Sir Harry to romance. It had gotten harder to get a decent chastity belt. Recently there had been a run-on on chastity belts. If that wasn’t enough, there were the recalls, so many that it made GM’s look like a Sunday outing.

On the way to an rpl one fine sprig of a spring day, Sir had an itch. It felt like it had been itching for days. And the itch was under his cuisse. That is, to say, his butt itched. Normally he would have ignored it, but this one was not your ordinary butt itch. It felt like a flea on his dog, Rover. The only way to get some relief was to get off his horse and let his squire shove a wire hanger down his armor and give his backside the scratch it deserved. Four days on a horse certainly qualified for a well-earned scratch.

“Whoa, Peckerwood,” Sir said to his stallion, a black fellow eighteen hands high.

The charger stopped so fast that Sir flew over the horse’s head and landed face down in the dirt. “Damn horse,” he muttered. Then to his squire, “Squire, get out the scratcher.”

Squire ran over to his boss with the wire hanger. Sir lifted himself onto all fours.

Five minutes later, his Sirness gave an audible sigh of relieve. His rear end gave a big toot. The itch had been scratched. Squire said to his lord and master, “Big Guy, me thinks you have the hemorrhoids.”

“That’s what I get for riding Peckerwood so much. What are we going to do about this?”

“Blame it on the horse,” Peckerwood protested to himself. “Always blame it on the horse.”

“Only one thing to do, Boss,” Squire recalled his medical training at the Ye Olde London College for Barbers and Physicians. “Get out the leaches and perform a hemrrhoidalechtomy.”

“Well, what are you waiting for? The Pope to preach another crusade?”

Squire worked his work quickly. “Kemosabe,” he finally said. “Oops, wrong role. Big Guy, the tests are in. Your rear end has been bled. Your backside has been scratched. So it’s time we were off.”

Sir stood, feeling relieved. Then he said, “Thanks. You’re a regular Sancho Panza.” He got back into the horse’s saddle and started down the road. Squire followed on his donkey.

A little bit down the road, the two came to a town. The mayor met them at the gate.

“Thank all that’s holy,” Mayor said. “You got our message.”

“We did indeed,” Sir said from his saddle. “What message was that?”

“The message to come and protect our fair town from the dragon.”

“Oh, that message,” Sir said. “I keep getting my messages crossed. Here a message. There a message. Everywhere a messy-message. Which dragon is it that’s bothering you?”

“Saintjorge. He’s a mean one, he is. Worse than Mr. Grinch.”

“What are his demands?”

“He wants one of our virgins. He has given us till midnight three days from now.”

“And how many virgins do you have in this fair city?” Sir was thinking it wasn’t really a fair city. It looked like a dump. But what the hey. A knight can’t be choosey when it comes to an heroic act. Sir had to take what he could get. It been a fortnight since his last heroic act.

“We only have four, your Sirship,” Mayor gave the knight the census. “All my daughters. We would have more but the king came through last week. And you know how royal he is once he spots a virgin.” Even though the king was half blind in one eye and couldn’t see out the other, it was very easy to spot a virgin. The virgins all had virgin spots.

Sir then asked Mayor, “Here’s the $64,000 question. What are their names, these virgins?”

“Any, Mini, Miny and Moe. I know. I know. It’s not very original. We were thinking about calling them Ima, Ura, Shesa, and Hesa. But that wouldn’t work since my last name is Pigface.”

Sir popped down onto the ground. “Before I go off and bop the dragon a good one, I would like to inspect the virgins.” Sir always enjoyed this part of his job. The Virgin Inspection.

Sir took a look at the virgins and was pleased. Very pleased. And all four had the Virgin Spots.

He looked up at the sky. “It’s a good day for a dragon whopping. It’s a good day indeed.”

A little while later, actually about a half an hour sundial time, Sir returned to the town from the dragon’s cave. Smoke billowed around his armor.

“That’s some dragon,” he said.

Sir went over to a bucket of cold water and plopped his rear in it. The heat rose from the bucket. “I needed that.”

“Did you take care of him?” Mayor asked, hoping for the best.

What he got was this. “You think I’m crazy?” Sir asked. “That dragon is one big sucker.”

Then the smell from Sir’s armor hit Mayor squarely in the face.

“Peeewwwww,” both Squire and Mayor said. “What is that smell?”

“Dragon fart. And I thought I could blow one out. But this guy is holding back nothing. I got to his cave and he hit me with a big one right square in the face. A real doozy. I didn’t have a chance. I would have preferred being roast beef to that.”

Squire reached into his saddle bag. He pulled out a giant bottle of UnStinkum and sprayed his boss with it. Now he smelled like roses. So much so that everybody in the town started calling him Rosie the Riveter because of the riveting way he came up with solutions to any number of problems. Like the current one. How was he going to save the four virgins?

“So? Did you slay him?” Inquiring minds wanted to know. Especially one. Any, Mini, Miny and Moe’s dad, the mayor.

“Are you kidding?” Sir said, glad to be rid of the odor.

“What are we going to do then?” Squire stuck his two bits in.

“We need a plan,” Sir suggested. “And I think I have one. What would happen if there were no virgins in the town?”

“No virgins, no dragon. But we have four virgins.”

“Then we will just have to de-virginize the virgins. In a former life, I was known as Sir Viagra the De-Virginizer, and I am at your service. I have the perfect virgin spot remover.”

Sir was going to have to go the extra mile. The thing was that he had never taken on four at one time. He’d done three virgins before. That was how he had earned his spurs of knighthood. Four was going to take extra effort. But sacrifices had to be made. Besides it was an act of Christian charity. And one thing Sir was about was Christian charity.

An hour later Sir stepped out of the Mayor’s house and lit a cigarette. He was singing, “Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant.” Then he said,”I’ve done it. They said it couldn’t be done but I done it.”

“The virgins?” Squire asked.

“Yep, they have all been de-spotted.” Then Sir turned to the mayor and said, “No need to thank me. Knowing that I have done a good deed is all the thanks I need.”

In the sky, they saw the dragon take off from the mountain, squealing his dragon squeal. He flew above the town and raised his rear and let one rip. Then he headed west where there was more opportunity, taking his grandpa’s advice, “Go west, young man.”

Sir Packs-a-whallup held his nose. Squire held his nose. Mayor held his nose. The smell was unbelievable. The wind blew in from the south and the dragon odor lingered over the kingdom for years.

Some say that it was that aroma that first started the Plague. I am not particularly qualified to argue a yea or a nay on that. Let’s just say. The kingdom went bankrupt from the loss of the tourist trade to the kingdom.

Well, folks, that’s tonight’s episode. If you happen to have a dragon show up on your doorstep, just contact Sir at 1-DEV-IRG-INIZ. He’ll return your call within twenty-four hours. Remember that you’ll get a 15% discount if you tell the operator where you read the show. Until next week, good night and good dragoning.