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What Me Think

By Lord Mudgeon McGrumpypants

BLAT
"Give them the bird!"

Recently, I received an email taunting me for picking on the fencers and the heralds, and not the Peers of the SCA; its writer accused me of leaving the latter group alone because I was "afraid of jeopardizing [my] SCA career."

And while I certainly don't look upon the SCA as a career — it's more like a dysfunctional family's Thanksgiving shindig which I only attend to hang out with the couple of cool cousins I rarely see — he did have a very good point: I haven't really picked on the Peers.

Now, part of the reason is that criticizing a Peer can be tantamount to treason against the Crown. Read Corpora, and you'll discover that simply to be eligible for a Peerage, someone has to be a model of courteous and noble behavior, be as authentically period in behavior, dress and equipment as possible, dance, play chess, be as hospitable as he or she can afford, and more. And the Crown is required to obey Corpora, even when it comes to elevating Peers. So to suggest that the Crown has elevated someone unworthy of Peerage would be an accusation that the Crown was derelict in its duty, and would therefore be treasonous. I am certainly no traitor, so I would never even dream of making such an accusation.

Despite that fact, this email did get me to thinking: I need to make fun of the Pelicans immediately, to ensure that they never, ever consider me as a candidate. I don't want to be a Pelican (in fact, I suspect there's something psychologically wrong with anyone who sets a goal of becoming a Pelican). Admittedly, poking fun at the Pelicans is a little redundant, since I've already mocked the heralds (who, at least in Trimaris, are pretty much the larval form of the Pelican). But since being stuck in Antarctica means I've never actually met Sir Kurn, I might as well tease the Pelicans instead.

The Order of the Pelican was so named for the ancient belief that the pelican was devoted to self-sacrifice; so much so that it would pierce its own breast with its beak and feed its young with its own blood. But if you've ever actually encountered one up close, you know that they're filthy, smelly, aggressive, badtempered creatures with an astounding evacuative accuracy when you drive your car under one. And the pelican bird is even worse.

I'm kidding, of course; members of the Order of the Pelican almost never poop on cars. The point is, pelicans were believed to be very noble, altruistic creatures. Coincidentally, this belief was held by the same people who thought that flies were spontaneously generated from rotten meat, that the Sun circled the Earth, and that burying a urine-soaked egg at midnight under a full moon would guarantee true love. But I digress.

I've heard some people complain that many Pelicans, upon elevation, immediately cease performing the outstanding service that got them noticed, nominated and elevated. But Corpora never says that a Pelican needs to continue such an exemplary level of service; only that he or she must "enrich the kingdom by sharing his or her knowledge and skills." So as long as a Pelican teaches the proper way to use a toilet brush, he or she never actually has to touch one again. Which I think is fair; I've seen what camp bathrooms look like after Asgard inducts a new squire, and it would be unreasonable to expect the same people to clean them up in perpetuity.

No, I think the Pelicans' image problem can easily be blamed on the Knights. Knights love fighting. They fight before they're knighted; they fight after they're knighted; they fight during the Chivalry meetings, sometimes while wearing armor. So they set a bad example for the rest of the Peers, because a Knight continues doing the thing he was elevated for. (Or "she", but that's a statistical anomaly.)

WTF?

Therefore, people expect it of the other Peerages, even though it's not actually a requirement. After elevation, a Pelican really has only one duty: to sit in meetings and decide who else to turn into a Pelican. I'd add, "...which sounds like an exciting and worthwhile way to spend one's events," but I'm afraid the Pelicans might not recognize sarcasm and think I want in on it.

Please send all complaints about this column to the author at mudgeon@thequarter.org.


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