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.

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

I have always wondered. Why did the theologians in the Middle Ages give a good-dad-burn about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Seems to me that angels have other things to keep them occupied. Like pulling folks out of barrels of hot oil before they become Sunday dinner.

I guess there wasn’t much in those days for theologians to do but sit around and scratch fleas and throw out questions. The one that came up with this doozy must have been drinking a little too much wine that day. When you have a Crusade to run or a Saint Joan to burn or a witch to torture or an Inquisition to conduct, just how do you get the time to ask dumbass questions? That is what I want to know.

Anyway back to the angels. They messed up. Had they done a proper job of things the Roman Empire would not have digressed into the dark ages. And they were really dark. Guess that is what happens when lead poisoning takes over the brain and a bunch of Huns run amuck, raping and plundering and looting, looting and plundering and raping. “Whoopee!” must have been the armor sticker most popular in those days.

Bet God had some angel butt for lunch. I can hear her now, “Can’t youse guys get anything right?” God uses youse because she is from Brooklyn. Has a little brownstone  over off Lafayette. But it’s a secret. So don’t tell anybody. “I told youse guys to take care of business. Now I am going to have to send in some wise guys. Man, can you believe it?”

In goes Richard the Lionhearted, dude from England, to clean up things. He ends up in a dungeon. Has to send his troubadour with his hand out for some ransom. Robin Hood, robbing from the rich and keeping for himself and his merry guys, comes up with enough cash and busts Mr. Fancy Pants Lionheart out of jail. When Little Richard gets home to England, he doesn’t find Long Tall Sally or Good Golly Miss Molly or Lucille. He finds his brother, John, redecorated his castle and installed himself as king. On top of that, John had gone and signed the Magna Carta. Boy, was Richard royally pissed. “You did WHAT? Don’t you know anything? Well, there goes the Plantagenet Plantation.”

What does all this have to do with angels dancing on the head of a pin? Who knows? No one had the time to figure that one out. They were too busy trying to keep from starving, fighting off the black death, and keeping themselves warm. You know, it is hard to keep warm when the fashion is to go without undies.

Guess that brings up a new question. How many angels can dance in a pair of undies?

Hamlet Interlude 2: Gertrude

The course of true love never did run smooth. (A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act 1 Scene 1.)

For Hamlet’s plot till now, see Hamlet So Far.

Act 1 Interlude.Of all the characters in “Hamlet”, it is Gertrude we feel we have to defend. We know that Gertrude was no Juliet. She was no Rosalind or Viola. She was no Kate. She was definitely no Lady Macbeth.

Of the over 4000 lines, Gertrude had only 155. That was not many lines compared to the beaucoup lines Claudius and Hamlet get. Even Laertes had more to say than she did, and he was off in Paris doing whatever. Yet, like her son, we make her carry a heavy load. As big as Claudius and Ophelia. Almost as big as Hamlet. We make her out to be a schemer. We make her out to be a co-conspirator. We make her out to be a slut. She was none of them.

Since she is not around to speak up for herself, she ends up getting the blame for a crime she may not have committed. One thing is for sure. Gertrude was a survivor. She lived in an age when a woman needed a husband. Especially if that woman was a royal. Women were the property of their fathers, their brothers, their husbands, their kings, even their sons. Perhaps she was an Eleanor of Aquitaine who knew how to make the best of a situation.

Back in Gertie’s Ham Senior days, it was possible she was feeling unloved by Hubby.  He was out of town a lot. She was feeling unbeautiful too. She was losing that figure that made her the belle of the ball when she was younger.

There was a good chance she had a bit of Guinevere in her. Claudius, the king’s younger brother, showed up and he was her Lancelot. Started wooing her with candy and flowers. She had never paid much attention to him before. After all, he was five years younger than she was. When he left the court for parts unknown, he was a scrawny kid with no grace at all.

Then he returned. He was all shiny and new in that knightly outfit of his, his long brown hair cascading over his shoulders, those dark eyes speaking of his admiration for her. (Don’t you just love that word “cascading”?) Claudius danced the light fantastic with her and made it feel like walking on air. Unlike Ham Senior, who was such a klutz. Every second or third step he made ended up on her footsies.

Every time Claudius walked into a room, her heart went pitter-pat faster and faster. She started having dreams about the happiness she would feel if Claudius were her husband and king instead of Ham Senior. If there was a guy in the room who could get a girl’s chastity belt unzipped, it was Claude.

Then she came up with a plan. Or did she? We shall never know. Shakespeare wasn’t talking.

We do know that Lady Macbeth had no children. She could only be ambitious for herself and her husband. Maybe Gertie was ambitious for her son. Maybe that was why she married Claudius. She didn’t want him to marry someone else. That someone else might produce an heir to the throne and replace her son. Seems to me that this was her plan, her way to make sure Junior got the throne when Claudius died.

One other thing. There were only two women, Gertrude and Ophelia, in the castle. Which left few dating options. So I guess that was why Gertrude was Obvious Choice Numero Uno for Claudius.

He could have gone with Ophelia. Polonius would have liked that. But Gertrude had already made it clear that she was the one for him. She had the Queen job down, she knew how to dress well and stink pretty, and Claudius was taking no chances. He wanted the King job. He wanted it bad. Gertrude was just the person that would secure that throne for him.

Besides his heart belonged to Gertrude back in his Lancelot days. Now that he was Arthur, she was his Gwen.

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.