Something to say
This page is a subsection of SCA Without Breaking the Bank. It provides information for dealing with authenticity mavens.
While this page does not directly involve buying things, I've found that there are some people, especially newcomers, who are worried that their equipment is not "period" enough. More to the point, they think that they will be criticized for having less-than-accurate gear. On the contrary! Almost everyone I know is very accepting of newcomers, and I don't know anyone who would look down on you, as long as you're trying. However, I have heard some horror stories about "authenticity mavens" who make comments about people's garb or other equipment. In case you, dear reader, ever have to deal with this kind of a person, I have assembled some tips for you.
Just before we start, though, please don't refer to these mavens as "authenticity nazis" or "garb nazis". I have heard these names applied, and quite frankly it sickens me. Nazis were horrible people (and horrible is an understatement). I've visited death camps in Poland and I've seen what they've done. Someone picking on you for your garb doesn't even come close. I prefer the term "maven" or "fanatic", and I'm sure you can come up with others.
- Realize that they probably mean well. Some people just don't realize they're being offensive by commenting on your garb or other equipment. Many just think they're trying to help. If it bothers you, tell them so, and politely ask them to stop. Most will.
- Show off your learning. If you have sincerely done research into whatever they're berating, let them know. Tell them that what you have done is justified by sources. Alternately, you can let them know that something you've done isn't quite right, but you are saving money. By pointing out "flaws", they're giving you a great opportunity to show off your knowledge and research.
- Be period. "Period" (at least in the SCA sense) is not a period term. If someone starts telling you something you're wearing or using isn't period, look them straight in the eye and say "Pardon me, good m'lord / m'lady, but what period are you referring to?" If they start talking about the SCA or the middle ages (incidentally, a term not coined until the Renaissance), simply act as though you don't understand them. Criticizing something on period authenticity is not period!
- My personal favorite: If someone comes up to you and says something you're wearing or using isn't period, ask if that is an offer for them to buy it or make it for you, for free. If someone comes up and says something you're wearing / holding / doing / making / etc. isn't period, ask politely if that is an offer to give / make / buy you a period one, for free. Either they will say yes, and you get something new and nifty out of it, or they say no and leave. You win both ways! :)
Submitted by Ealusaid Mhaolain
I purchased a length of mahogany colored harness leather and made myself a belt. I was proud of my inexpensive and hand made belt. But I was contrantly questioned about my "red" belt and asked who I had squired to. While wallking through merchants row at a local event, I spotted several red leather belts. When I mentioned to the merchant that I was being constantly asked about my "red" belt, he cut me a small piece of squire-red leather and made me a favor. Now when asked about my red belt, I produce by squire red favor and say,"Nay m'lord/m'lady. My belt is mahogany, this is squire red." My favor has saved other's from the same embarassment and has "enlightened" many an AM/Garb Police.
Submitted by Margarethe Petsdottir
Someone approached a friend of mine and told her that her garb was "too rich" for her and that she shouldn't be wearing it. Her reply was "Oh, I am so sorry that your lord does not have enough money to afford this for you," after which she simply walked away.
Submitted by Alejandra Vazquez de Granada
This is my favorite way to deal with authenticity mavens, though I cannot take credit for creating it. "M'Lord/M'Lady, since you do not approve of my garb, I'm sure you can remedy that. I'm willing and able to sit for a fitting at your leisure." They usually mutter something indistinguishable about "not having time," or the like as they leave quickly.
Submitted by Llv Waldrondottir
Maven: "Well if you are Norse then you should be wearing 'this' and 'that' instead of Italian!" My reply: "My good Lady, but since I am only a young traveler visiting friends would it be bad manors to refuse the garments they loaned me?"
Maven: "You should be wearing this or that with your persona!" Myself: "My father traveled from one sea to the other and he always brought me gifts. Does this not make me exotic, my Lord/Lady?"
If they are really rude then usually going back to point out that my budget is small and my sewing skills not that great, if they would care then to make me an outfit I would happily wear it.
Submitted by Christopher Lemke
My lady/wife has a great method of doing this: when someone explains to her that an Irish Tinker would not have had access to or would ever wear item "x" she explains (while looking nervously about for city guards or police) that she "borrowed" the garment/item in question.
Submitted by Arial
This is the Society for CREATIVE Anachronism. Creative being the main word, it doesn't matter what im wearing as long as its not a jogging suit.
Submitted by Niccolo da Palermo
When I am confronted by the Authenticity Maven, the exchange usually goes something like this: AM: "XYZ is not period" ME: "Thank you, for pointing that out. I will have my servants get right on that. Good day."
If the AM really presses the issue, or is rude, I use different tactic: AM: "But XYZ really is not period" ME: "I am reasonably sure, Milord (or Milady), that no one in period ever uttered the words: 'XYZ is not period.' This conversation is really making it difficult for me to 'live the dream.' Would you mind changing the subject, or going away, so that we can both maintain our period personae?"
Submitted by Elizabeth Beaumont
When I have discussed this with other people who are trying to be authentic, many authenticists realize later that their first attempt at garb was just plain wrong. I know. I've wished I could blot my first garb out of history. So my suggestion for someone who is being mean about your garb would be to question them about their first garb. For example, "what was your first garb made of?" "Was it hand sewn?" You can even get as far down as asking whether the fabric is hand woven or the sheep was shorn by hand. If they did do it all that authentically, ask them to teach you how they did it.