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We Went Medieval on that Birthday’s Butt

I met my husband doing a summer of George Kaufman plays with the Playwright’s Repertory Theatre in Florida. It was the first time I got paid actual money to act. This Summer Rep even had a few equity actors passing through; The Rep gave out of towners a place to live and paid enough money to keep us in Top Ramen and beer, provided we were willing to drink domestic.

Actors always are.

This little summer rep did 3 plays by one writer and debuted a new play every season. They taught Scott how to stage-fight. So, Scott and I, we are theatre people. Scott almost never talks, but when he does, he sure as heck can PROJECT.

When people snicker or snoot upon the dancing hot dog guy in a low budget commercial, Scott and I exchange knowing glances. “Working actor,” we whisper to each other. The sniggerers do not know how hard those legs, sticking comically out from the bottom of the bun, worked to get the gig, beating out 50 other hungry would-be hot dog legs.

We went to Medieval Times last night, celebrating the fact that Beautiful Maisy Who Is Barely Ten has now spent slightly more than a decade breathing the soiled air of this filthy planet, which is SO lucky to have her.

We cheered the yellow knight on. The yellow knight’s name was Timothy. He knows how do a roll-fall off a horse and he can stage-fight with flails and axes and polearms, and while dual-wielding broadswords.

He is a working actor, and I LOVE him, possibly forever. Here is why:

Beautiful Maisy Who Is Barely Ten is genetically poisoned on BOTH sides. Her father and I met in a theatre, and Maisy Jane was born for it. You cut the child, and she bleeds greasepaint.

She and her best bud Annalise wore medieval princess dresses from school plays—a little short now, but HEY, princesses circa 2012 are not afraid to show a little ankle—and Maisy LOST HER MIND at the pageantry of it.

I thought the best part was when my little born stage actor hollered – in a faux British accent that rivaled the one the excellent Serving Wench Jessica was wielding – “FIGHT WELL! AND WITH HONOR!” (Imagine it as “HONAHHHHHHH” in her piercing high pipering voice) and the Yellow Knight heard her (He would have heard from SPACE, believe me). He turned on his horse and saluted her with his lance, then leveled his ever so serious I-am-not-phoning-this-in gaze upon her and I said, “I shall.”

But I was wrong. It was a great part, granted. She lit up like a halogen bulb, so thrilled to be INCLUDED, to be a part of it, to have a LINE. But it was not the best part.

Later the knights all threw carnations and The Yellow Knight threw one to Beautiful Annalise Who Is Maisy Jane’s BFF. She blushed and grinned and ducked her head. I thought that might be the best part, that my Birthday girl looked disappointed ONLY for a single second and then was so delighted for her beloved friend.

She did not EVEN try to use BIRTHDAY MOJO to commandeer the flower, just hugged Annalise and let her have that moment. Then she turned and started cheering the yellow knight’s gallantry with such vigor I worried she might tumble from the bleachers and die gloriously beneath his horse’s hooves. I was so proud, that at ten she could be happy when a nice thing SHE wanted for herself came to her friend instead. THAT is the big-hearted girl I am blessed with….SO, yeah, I thought THAT was the best part. It ALMOST was.

But then! Good Sir Timothy of Yellow won the whole tourney! And with it, the right to represent the Prince in his battle against the awful green knight, curse his name and color, the green knight that we all vigorously hate forever, OUR GUY WOULD FACE HIM IN THE FINAL BATTLE!

Before he fought, they tied a favor to tip of his lance, a yellow sash, and he rode around lofting it, and then! He presented it to Maisy Jane! Extended it to her on the tip of his lance, bowing. The Sash declared
her to be the tourney’s “Queen of Love and Beauty!” She tied it on and cheered him so loud the child has no voice today. He then galloped forth and murdered that pernicious green knight in HER honor.

At this point, my overwrought queen of love and beauty BURST into tears. She had a look on her face I have not seen since she was three, and met “The WEAL Cindewella” at Disneyworld.

Thank you Timothy, thank you awful green knight that we vigorously hate forever, thank you Princess Leonore and Good King What’s-Your-Face. Thank you to ALL the working actors out there, the good ones, the ones who understand they are the purveyors of the only kind of actual working magic. The ones who Do. Not. Phone. It. In.

Last night, my daughter— who in such a short short short ungodly brief minute of time will not go so boldly forth in public in a too short princess dress and last years sandals, who will wisen up and see the banners are a little tattered and most of the horses are plugs and one of the knights has an accent that keeps wandering off toward Scotland, who will come to worry about whether or not cheering so loud is “Cool,” who will stop being so positive that magic IS possible, who will unstoppably close the door on the perfect innocence that is her childhood and, dear God help me, grow all the way up….Last night, she turned to me flat GLOWING with tears streaming down her face and said, “Best. Birthday. Ever.”

Let me tell you. I have had 44 birthdays of my own, some of them spent in exotic locales with my fav’rit fella, many involving amazing presents or events or moments. But yes, Maisy Jane, I have to agree. This was the best Birthday ever. For real.

43 comments to We Went Medieval on that Birthday’s Butt

  • Petunia

    I am bawling like a baby. I have my own little Maisy Jane, but we pronounce her name Rachel. She will be ten in August and I am fighting it every step of the way. Beautifully written. Happy, happy birthday, Maisy Jane!

  • Wow. Here’s to all the Working Actors out there that make dreams come true.

  • Jill W.

    Wow. Great story- had me tearing up. Happy birthday, Maisy Jane!

  • Oh! This hit all my buttons, as the mom of a daughter who also was born for the theater and who pulled the sword out of the stone in the Magic Kingdom during our one and only trip to Disney World when she was six (I know she did not REALLY pull it out — someone LET her pull it out — someone hit the button right when MY girl stepped up to the stone and I will love that person forever for giving her that experience and THAT LOOK ON HER FACE)(also, she is 14 now and no longer believes in Santa or the Easter Bunny but I am pretty sure she still believes she really did pull out that sword, and that is the way things will stay forever and ever, amen).

    Happy, happy birthday to beautiful Maisy! And huzzah for Timothy the Yellow Knight! May he never want for beer nor ramen!

  • We went there for my husband’s 50th birthday but we didn’t think to dress up! Our knight was the first one out.

  • Mir

    Oh my goodness. Chills! Happy birthday to the one and only, Queen of Love and Beauty, Maisy Jane!!

  • Denise

    Crying with the joy and awesomeness! Beautiful.

  • This is PERFECT. Happy birthday, Ms. Maisy Jane!


    “Karen Abbott”

  • Beth R

    Happy birthday, Maisie-who-is-ten!

  • Beth R

    Whoops! Spelled your name wrong, sorry about that MaisY-who-is-ten 🙂

  • Aimee

    *weeps* I love this SO much. How wonderful. Happy Birthday to the Queen of Love and Beauty!

  • Only a child such as this would have come from the likes of you Joshilyn! Love that story with all my heart, especially now that my little Queen of Love and Beauty would only roll her eyes and declare Medieval Times “lame” at this stage in her life. I hope the 10 year-old version comes back some day.

  • Maisy Jane is not the only one in tears. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

  • . . . a little misty-eyed here . . . Thanks for a lovely story! Happy birthday, and many more, each one happier than the one before!

  • This story made me cry. In the good way. Happy birthday, Maisy Jane!

  • Kathy

    Wow! What a perfect birthday! Birthday congratulations Maisy!

  • DebR

    Aaaawwwwwwwww (I wish I knew an emoticon for teary-eyed smile)
    Happy Birthday, Maisy Jane!

  • This is indeed The Best Birthday Story Ever. Thanks so much for sharing the moment with us.

  • erinanne

    I do not even have a Maisy Jane (or a Sam, for that matter) of my own, but this still brought tears to my eyes. Am now forwarding it on to all the mothers I know.

  • That was a perfect post! LOVE to you and Maisy.

  • Awww. I’m not feeling remotely eloquent, so trust me, I’m moved and sniffly. Happy birthday to the ankle-shower. May she always believe in magic, even if only glimpsed in the tender hearts of working actors.

  • Lynn in Texas

    Awww, so great. Happy Birthday, Maisy Jane!

  • Scottsdale Girl

    BRB there is something in my eye. *sniffle*

  • Also, I CANNOT BELIEVE she is ten. Sheesh.

  • Tonya Urbatsch

    I have to say – this is the best birthday story evah!!!

  • I had to come back and read it again.

  • Barbie

    Remarkable. 🙂

  • What!?!? The Yellow Knight is an actor? Some of you people do not believe in Santa…or even the sweet Bunny who poops the jelly beans? What next? Will you people stop clapping for Tinkerbell? Maybe this is why I never produced loin fruit of my own. No mini skeptics around the house to frazzle my rainbow vibe.

    Now excuse me. I must go sit in my magical belief bubble for 10, maybe even 20 minutes.

  • Oh, and I am not wishing Maisy Jane a Happy Birthday because (1) she has already proclaimed this to be the best birthday ever, and (2) I have already called forth the Endless Belief Birthday Fairies to ensure many more even happier returns.

  • Kim


    Happy birthday to Maisy Jane, Queen of Love and Beauty.

    (And Joss? Thanks so much ~ I needed a good, cleansing cry today…and you gifted me with tears of Beauty.)

  • Brigitte

    Tears . . and lots of love for Yellow Knight!

  • Peggy Fry

    I first fell in love with your writing Joshilyn back when you were on the quiliting group as LucyLucy and making a quilt because you were bursting with said MaisyJane in pod-form. I’ve stayed around ever since! Ten whole years??? wow. I am also an actor with a Real Job. Hooray for those who refuse to phone it in, to feel they are too cool to do the work that is needed and everyone who does their job with Real Magic. Acting is IT, baybee. It is the only way to really harness the energy and love of the world and transmit it to others in such a way that it resounds to the heavens. I’ve been doing it since I was a mere babe and still love it, even though I’ve gotten a real live life now. Religion, entertainment, writing fiction, people watching, it is all theatre. Huzzah with honaaaaah to all who labor at the altar of it all! And since I am also an April birthday girl – happy birthday to us! Innocence might be lost one day but guess what – it grows back! If you are lucky!!

  • I loved reading about your precious Maisy’s amazing birthday! Bravo to Medieval Times for providing such dreams-come-true, and bravo to you, Mom, for sharing the joy with the rest of us.

  • Editdebs

    Okay, I loved you more after finding out that you love my wonderful Jenny Lawson. But this post may be the thing that makes you my favorite blog writer ever. (I love your book writing also, though.) I love this post!

  • Sarah Y.

    So beautiful. You made me cry.

  • Kathleen

    As a serving wench at the Georgia Medieval Times, I was so happy to read this. I know a good majority of us work hard to give people the same experience you had, and I love that you guys had a good time. Tim is a good friend of mine, and I know he will be so happy to read this also. Happy Birthday Maisy Jane!!!!!!!!!

  • Jill S. in B'ham

    Oh gosh, you have me crying again b/c my own sweet girl will be 15 and is very much in the angst of the teenage years – enjoy ten so much! My darling is still my precious girl, but then again, not my little girl – she thinks she knows so much!
    Oh – sweet piece – enjoy Maisy so much!

  • ebethnyc

    Beautiful. Happy birthday to Maisy Jane and Happy Mother’s Day to you (& Father’s Day to Mr. Husband).

    Given all that you’ve shared w/us, this story comes as no surprise. But still it made the heart swell and the eyes water. Kudos.

  • Jennifer in NC

    Happy tears! Happy tears! Now I have them too. What a beautifully written story. I hope you share it with Maisy one day.

    Happy, Happy Birthday to Maisy Jane!!

    And long live the Yellow Knight and all kind people like him who help us rekindle the innocence of youth!

  • Michelle-who-is-Shelley

    LOVE this story. And I suspect that even though there might come a time in the future when she will not think this particular thing is “cool”, nothing, not even peer pressure, will be able to douse the bright sparkling light and delight that is Maisy Jane.

  • I read this blog post while waiting for my own grown daughter to come home for Easter. She should arrive in an hour or two. This blog post made me kinda weepy. Weepy in a real good way. Daughters rock. I bet sons do, too. I don’t have one, but I suspect they do. So, progeny rock. And so do you. You reminded me of how much fun it is to see the world from your kid’s eyes.

  • Lost it. Bawling here. Love it.