My only exposure to Medieval Times — a national entertainment chain featuring jousts, sword fights and 11th century fare — was the solitary time my husband forced me to watch that ridiculous movie, “The Cable Guy.”
Jim Carrey’s character is absolutely obsessed with the dinner theater venue, and he drags his would-be best friend, played by Matthew Broderick, to the show. There, Broderick encounters the key quirk of the place: they don’t provide silverware with the meal.
“Can I get a knife or a fork?” he asks the serving wench, played by the glorious Janeane Garofalo, who responds with the long-suffering patience only someone in the serving industry can.
“There were no utensils in medieval time. Hence there are no utensils at Medieval Times. Would you like a refill on that Pepsi?”
Broderick snaps back, “There were no utensils, but there was Pepsi?”
I don’t remember much else about that movie, but that quip was the only thing I could think of when we pulled into the parking lot of the castle in Lawrenceville last week.
I don’t know exactly what I was expecting. Well, that’s a lie. I do.
I was expecting a castle in the middle of a field, although I have no idea where I got that image. But I certainly wasn’t expecting a castle front affixed to a shopping mall. But there it was, in the Sugarloaf Mill Shopping Center with Starbucks on one side and Tutti Fruitti Frozen Yogurt on the other.
Children waving light-up glow swords and sparkling princess wands didn’t seem to care in the least that their experience was less than authentic. And neither did the roaming pack of Renaissance Fair-esque middle age guys or shrieking bachelorette parties. Rather, we all patiently stood in line, were handed a cardboard crown and let loose in a gift shop area called The Hall of Arms that made Disney World seem like small potatoes.
We learned at the ticket counter that we would be sitting in the section of the castle cheering for the black and white knight, a crusading priest warrior.
Now, here’s where I give you the most important tip. At this point in the process, I was highly dubious. It seemed commercial, fake and cheesy. And I wasn’t really feeling it.
But then I remembered the advice of Briana Mink, a 21-year-old Lawrenceville native who performs at the attraction. She told me, in no uncertain terms, that I would only have as much fun as I wanted there. In other words, she said I had to lean into it, embrace it and just decide to have a great time.
My husband was already there. He was psyched. He was loving every single second they played trumpets or hollered, “Hip, hip, hurrah!” Thus, I decided to do it. I leaned in.
And oh, my word, y’all, am I glad I did.
Once I was sat in the arena (which is massive, by the way), I gave it my all. I cheered and booed at the appropriate times. I screamed my head off when my knight jousted and threw the javelin and was in a sword fight with the villain.
It must have helped. My knight won the whole shebang.
And other than attending a college football game, I have never seen a group of adults get so excited about grown men in tights beating on each other. It was an absolute hoot.
I cheered for the horses as they performed their intricate dances. I applauded the falcons as they soared around the arena. I laughed at the King’s puns, when he addressed us, his loyal subjects.
I ate with my hands, and I ordered the Pepsi.
And guess what?
I truly did have a Knight to remember.
Bekah Porter is a travel columnist for The Times. She can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.