2011-05-14

Anachronism in the face of cold steel

We had what I thought was a fairly active chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) at Carnegie-Mellon University (then CMU -- now "Carnegie Mellon [University]"). There was an ostensibly active member who would mind the components store of EE lab on Thursday nights back in 1986, and he regaled several of us lab-goers with some local anecdotes while minding those microchips and making himself a suit of chain mail out of wire. Since it has bearing on the first anecdote, I'll digress briefly into how one goes about making such a suit. A suit of chain mail (for the heathen among you) is a sort of medieval armour which is like long underwear made out of hundreds if not thousands of tiny rings (about 1 cm diameter) linked together to form a fabric from which the suit is made. The mail may be fabricated by wrapping 1/16" wire around a metal bar, clipping the wire off to form little circlets which may then be joined together and optionally welded closed to form the "fabric" and ultimately, the suit. Chain mail will stave off arrows and blades, but is yielding, allowing full freedom of movement (and blunt impacts to be felt through the armour). It is however, rather heavy to wear (like most armour). I'm still amazed that a CMU student had the time to make such a thing. Anyway, on with the story...

Anecdote #1:

An SCA member and CMU student had just completed a suit of chain mail, and decided to put it on under a sweatsuit and take a walk around town (Pittsburgh, PA) to get a feel for the weight. During this promenade, he was accosted by a mugger who threated him with a knife, saying something to the effect of: "Give me your money or I'll stick you with this!" Our hero rejoined with something to the effect of: "It's a deal!", and the assailant proceeded to assail in the following manner:
- Ching!
- Ching!
- Chink! --SNAP!!
...and then fled without further ado, leaving our hero to continue his stroll without further incident.
-- CURTAIN -- 

Anecdote #2:

Another SCA-er/CMU student was returning home late one night from an SCA event via the sidewalks of the City of Pittsburgh. Our hero was the proud owner of a reasonably authentic longsword or broadsword of some stripe, which he had brought to said event, and which was now strapped to his back for his walk home. Again, for the heathen among you, such a sword is a good-sized weapon, about a metre in length, with a handle which may be large enough to accomodate both hands for particularly energetic swinging and thrusting maneuvers (you usually need both hands, as such a sword is quite heavy). En route, our hero was confronted by a switchblade-toting scalawag, who said, brandishing his weapon, "I've got six inches says you're gonna give me all your money!". The student, also a master of Hollywood dialogue, reaching over his shoulder, retorted, "I'll see your six inches...."
- KA-SHIIIIING!!!
...and raise you three feet!"
The bad guy fled forthwith, leaving the inadequate switchblade twirling cartoon-like in mid-air. Had he been somewhat bolder, however, one could perhaps imagine the next morning's headlines:
CMU STUDENT ATTACKED: ASSAILANT DISEMBOWELED
-- CURTAIN --
 
Copyright © 1996
 

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