Fairy Tales


Family nights at Medieval Times
Family nights at Medieval Times.


In my life, I found fairy tales in unknown neighborhoods of New York City, in hidden bars and after nights of endless dancing and 4am spicy salted squid in Chinatown. But I also found fairy tales exist in a repeated family quality nights at Medieval Times in Schamburg, Illinois.

What does one wear to a “hands on” dinner show with a royal court? On this night, Carina personally chose just the perfect outfit to reunite with her Yellow Knight that evening. Pink sweater of course, pink pom-poms to show off her cheerleading skills and light pink sparkly sneakers for added extra sizzle. As Carina’s excitement grew, her aunties’ excitement grew. A few squeals, jumps, some twirls of her pom-poms and off we went. A group of cousins led out the door by a three year old ready to show us that chivalry was not dead in the outer suburbs of Chicago.

Once at Medieval Times, Carina guided us through the parking lot to enter into her world. With the same familiarity I would acknowledge my doorman and neighbors, Carina greeted the knights and maidens around the stone walls of the ‘castle.’ With her pom-poms in hand and a runway stride, Carina whizzed right through the distractions of the Medieval Times reception area with its memorabilia and photo stations and took us girls straight to the Yellow Knight section. We grab our VIP seats in the front rows of the arena and the jousting tournament begins.

The show is filled with tasty garlic bread, horse tricks, knights, swords, paper yellow crowns on our head and maybe even a falcon. Tonight, the hot tempered Green Knight challenges the chivalrous Yellow Knight to a duel. Yellow Knight fights for the love and devotion of one special lady. He rides his majestic horse to his cheering fans in the Yellow section looking to hand out his single rose. Without hesitation, Carina stands on her seat, starts waving, jumping and takes the pom-poms out for a quick cheer. Yellow Knight scans the crowd, finds Carina and hands her his single red rose. Not even a year from this night, Yellow Knight along with Green Knight, Black Knight, Red Knight and the maidens will carry Carina’s coffin to a waiting hearse. But on this night, Yellow Knight fights for her.

Carina blows Yellow Knight a good luck kiss, falls back into my lap and turns to me. She gives me that exact same look I still give my cousins when a cute boy says hello. A look mixed with surprise and possibility. A look the two of us will never share again. With one innocent squeal she reveals the joy of the Yellow Knight choosing her over everyone else in the whole arena.  Though this is not the first time Yellow Knight searched specifically for Carina, each duel is as great as the first. Her familiar fairy tale of love and devotion repeats with the same happy ending each visit.

In the afterglow of the dinner show and somehow reminded that chivalry still exists, us cousins eagerly take pictures with the handsome athletic knights. Among the conversation and laughter, Carina grabs my hand and takes me to join her. She finds a hallway and I push aside the heavy curtain to walk down the narrow aisle until we reach the floor of the empty barely lit arena. Here the two of us meet a half dozen show horses tied up to posts. I laugh at her young cleverness to show me the reality behind this make-believe world where horses wait while actors greet and flirt. From the dark edge of the arena, Carina stares in awe of the horses. Until she is ready to go, I stand next to her as she lives this fairy tale.


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