A Knight’s Tale


Bleacher SeatMedieval times in the mall.

By Luke Robinson

 

OK, I know this magazine is called B-Metro and the “B” stands for Birmingham, but I have to tell you about my recent trip to Atlanta. If you must have the Magic City theme in here somewhere then…umm…uhhhh…Most everyone here likes the Atlanta Braves. We good now?

Good.

OK, so my three kids, my girlfriend, and I are all in Atlanta a few weeks ago. We did all of the typical Atlanta things: hit the aquarium, went to Lego Land, paid too much for parking at the hotel; all that normal, touristy stuff you need to do when entertaining your children. But we did something else, too. Something I didn’t even know existed in Georgia: We went to a medieval jousting tournament. We did this at the appropriately named Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament just outside of Atlanta in Lawrenceville.

Wondering what medieval times were like? Remember that scene in The Cable Guy? Yeah, it was like that.

Oddly enough, though, the place was in a mall. A real-life, Galleria-like mall. That part shocked me. At first glance, that feels wrong. Like an insomniac trying to sell you a mattress. Something about exchanging shorts at the Banana Republic before heading to a jousting tournament seems inauthentic at best and downright kooky at worst. But a funny thing happened once I gave our tickets to the friendly wench. Yes, you get to call them that; in fact, it is encouraged. This place was really cool. (However, it should be noted that the lovely women taking tickets at The Summit movie theater do not enjoy being called wenches. Just FYI.)

The enormity of the area was disturbingly hard to fathom. It was like walking into that special train station in the Harry Potter series. Or, more fittingly, like the inside of the Keebler Elves tree. (How do they have room for all of those ovens? That’s all I’m asking!) After a quick tour of the medieval torture chamber (memo to self: that was not a great idea for the kids), we were shown to our table. Everyone is seated pretty quickly and the arena is divided into six variously colored sections. Each section’s color corresponds with a knight. Your section roots for that knight. After some preliminary mediocre acting from the “king” and “princess,” the knights arrive and the jousting begins. And I do mean actual jousting.

At least it looked pretty dang real to us as every time the two combatants made a pass, one of the two ended up hitting the sand back-first. The other jouster would then dismount and hand-to-hand fighting would begin.

When I was a 12-year-old, I once tried to smuggle an authentic mace into the country from jolly ole England. I know a real mace when I see one. And, yeah, those dudes actually used those. It was truly awesome when, after our section’s yellow knight won his battle, he gave his “royal flag” to my 7-year-old daughter to announce she was the queen of the kingdom. (And by “kingdom,” I mean “rows HH–PP, seats 1–36.”)

There was one drawback to being thrust into a medieval fantasyland, I guess: Apparently forks had not been invented. Therefore, everyone—and I mean everyone—had to eat with their hands. The half-chicken, the potato wedge, the dessert, all of it. Now, my kids really dug that. I think my 4-year-old, Walker, would have risked getting The Plague if he could just eat like that all of the time. The boy ripped through that chicken like it had his car keys in it. Personally, though, I prefer the security and familiarity of a knife and fork.

Anyhoo, as opposed to most mass-produced dinners urrywhere, this meal was not bad at all. That’s a big deal when you are catering to around 1,000 Lords and Ladies. Overall, it was an awesome experience. Much better than CATS. (YouTube the old SNL skit, people).

I get that the thought of heading to suburbia to check out a jousting tourney in a shopping complex is a little cheesy. Usually if you want to see a battle in a mall, you can go to the Target parking lot on Black Friday. My clan was a tank top and a pair of jean shorts away from being completely diced, smothered, and covered in a gravy of backwoods’ goodness; I understand that.

But look at this another way if you are having an issue with the idea of phony, southern-fried British accents fighting each other in chainmail: My kids were entertained to no end for two and a half hours hours and they ate all of their dinner. That’s a win in my book.

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