(HOW PALE ARE YOU?)
I’m so pale, one time my friend thought I was naked because I was the same colour as my shirt.
No, seriously. I’m incredibly white. Women I don’t even know come up to me at events and ask me how I achieve my amazing period look (Answer: Don’t go outside. And be Irish). And while it’s period-correct for both 18th and 19th century, it’s a bitch and a half in the real world. As soon as it’s Spring, sunscreen is my best friend. Anything below 50 SPF can get off my lawn.
Since the cotton and linen shirts sold by sutlers are generally (and understandably) designed for men, even the smallest size is rather large on my 5’5” frame. And I’ve just barely conquered learning to sew women’s clothing. I’m not attempting men’s clothes for myself yet. Other than a single button at the collar, the shirts are very open in the front and I don’t give peep shows for free. You gotta’ pay for that stuff.
That, combined with the fact that I have boobs that need to go away when I’m soldiering, means I always wear some sort of camisole under my smallclothes. Men, who don’t have boobie discretion issues, probably don’t even think about the fact that I’m wearing an extra layer of clothes to keep myself decent. At least I hope they don’t. If they do, I have somewhere special my bayonet can go.
All of this exposition culminates in the Battle of Wyoming Valley in 2011. It was an amazing weekend, and the Sunday public battle was one of the highlights of my reenacting career. But it was HOT. Blazing hot. Snowball’s-chance-in-Hell hot. So hot, that when I got undressed that night my breeches were loose, whereas they had fit perfectly that morning.
It was late Saturday night, probably after ten o’clock, and one of our guys had to hit the road. The moon was out in full force but it was still quite dark. A few of us walked him out to his car. It was still very humid, so on the walk I took off my waistcoat and neckstock so I could stuff them in my car to prevent myself from forgetting them later (hot tip: if you take off clothing items in camp after dark, you’re not finding that stuff until the next morning at least. Despite what the movies will tell you, candles are a piss-poor source of lighting). But I was still hot.
So, thinking nothing of it because I had a spaghetti-strap number on underneath, I took off my shirt. At which point my friend, about a dozen yards away, made an exclamation of horror and averted his eyes in fear the way men do when they’re terrified of being accused of looking at something they shouldn’t.
Clueless, I said, “What?”
To which he exclaimed, with immeasurable relief, “Oh! You have a shirt on!”
Le sigh. “Yes, I have a shirt on.” It seemed obvious to me.
He sputtered for a bit. “I couldn’t tell with the moon! It was all so white!”
I had to concede he had an excellent point. I now make it a policy not to strip any further than my shirt in order to avoid further confusion and/or public alarm.
How white are you folks? Tell me some stories in the comments and we can commiserate together!