Betsie and I make quite a pair. We’re both tall, and have uncommon amounts of long hair. We lean towards eccentric dress and laugh loudly in public. We first became friends as teenagers, by bonding over a shared enthusiasm for attending Renaissance Fairs in elaborate fairy costumes.
A day at the Renaissance Faire would begin in the very early hours of the morning. Costumes were donned, minus the wings of course, because you can’t wear wings on a five hour car trip. Hair was entwined with flowers and vines, green sparkles were plastered across faces and pointy elf ears were glued firmly in place. Then off we went in Betsie’s green Mystique, armed with mapquest printouts that showed elaborate routes across Midwestern highways and back country roads.
Several hours in, we would need to pee. Often the only place to available was an interstate rest stop, populated by families en route to summer vacation spots and truckers.
Two fairies walk into a truck stop diner. Ba dum ching! Were were stared at, hit on, and had lines from Lord of the Rings quoted at us in bulk.
But the strangest encounter we had en route to the Faire was at country gas station in the middle of Nowhere, Michigan. Betsie was in the restroom. I was looking at chocolate bars, waiting my turn, when a young couple walked in and strode up to the counter, where a bored-looking teenage girl was flipping through a magazine. The young man sported sagging jeans and a shaved head, and had a stocky pit bull on a leash. The girl, no older than me, was beaten to a bloody pulp. Black eye, swollen lip, puffy red face – she was a mess. My eyes darted back to the man, wondering if he was the culprit. They greeted the girl at the counter enthusiastically, and she exclaimed over the other girl’s injuries.
I tried to look inconspicuous as I hid behind the Twinkies display. It’s hard to look inconspicuous when you’re wearing pointy ears and a corset made to look like a giant leaf.
“We’re gonna go fix the guy who beat me up last night,” said the injured girl. “We’re going to fix him good.”
“I found out where he lives,” said the young man. “We’re going to fix him so good. He’ll know what happens when you hit my girl.”
If I just stay hidden back here, I thought, I’ll be okay. I will not get involved in this scene of backwater brutality and revenge.
“Oh no!” cried a gentle voice, from the direction of the bathroom. “You shouldn’t fix him!”
Three sets of eyes turned towards the back of the store, brows furrowed. I gasped in horror and looked over to where Betsie was standing, between the pork rinds and the beer cooler. The bathroom door was still open behind her, its hanging lightbulb bathing her in a ray of light. Her leafy skirt billowed out around her, her hair blew in a breeze from the open window, and her hands, still damp from washing, were held out in front of her as if in a gesture of supplication.
She walked forward towards the trio, who stared at her with their mouths agape.
“More violence isn’t the answer!” she cried earnestly. “If someone hurt you, you should report him to the authorities!”
The gas station trio were mesmerized. They were about to commit bodily harm, and the Good Fairy of Lake Michigan had appeared from nowhere to guide them towards a kinder path. For a moment, a look of wonder passed across their faces. Magic was real, and there was an alternative to violence.
Then the young man said he wanted to buy some cigarettes, the girls giggled, and I dragged Betsie out to the car.
I never did get to pee. But it was worth it to see a Good Fairy at work, even if I did threaten to fix HER good if she ever got us involved in a situation like that again!
Betsie used to make our incredible fairy costumes, and now she makes flowers and leaf scarves that are equally gorgeous. Available here: The Faerie Market