Becoming a Freedom Trail Player
Turns out only the veterans take on the junior-high-school trips. “Give yourself a solid year before trying to win their attention,” Carrell offers. “Even if they like you, they won’t show it. That hurts in the early player days.”
Arms loaded with a heavy bundle of 18th-century clothing, I sit, eager for more advice from the Trail’s battle-scarred vets. “The best technique is to be a politician out there,” Carrell continues. “When you get a direct question, give back a long, rambling answer. By the end, they either forget they asked a question, or they’re thinking, ‘Hmm, there must have been an answer in there somewhere.'”
“Eccentricity works,” Rudy weighs in. “‘Are you a pirate?’ they ask. ‘No,’ I say back. ‘I steal and kill for the good of America!’ Sometimes I’ll just snarl, ‘Aaahhhhyyyyyeeee matey!'”
I start to dress in my “period clothing”–the word costume isn’t allowed. A thin layer of 21st-century T-shirt and leggings enables co-gender outfitting. I turn to Michael Szkolka, the Brit from the elevator. “Excuse me, but why are your under … pants … pleated?”
“They’re called breeches. That’s so I can comfortably spread my legs when I get on a horse,” he tells me.
I put on my “stay,” a rib-suppressing corset, followed by a “shift,” the relaxed name for an uncomfortable vest-like dress top. Lacing up, I peer down at my girdle-nudged breasts.
“Don’t worry,” Rudy offers. “You’ll hide all of that with the chemise you’ll wear underneath.” He gestures toward a dense collection of what appear to be nightgowns. “In founding our country, warmth, health, and safety trumped British high-period correctness and French decolletage,” he explains.
As I adjust what appear to be bags of mobile cellulite around my waist (intended to give my hips a whole lotta breadth), it’s clear that despite dropping a few petticoats over the years, women have always been expected to keep the ripe-‘n’-fertile look alive–then, now, and probably forever.
“Can I do three or four tours a day in summer and feel comfortable that these clothes are all mine?” I wonder aloud.
“Don’t worry–your undergarments get washed a couple times a week, 21st-century-style,” Rudy reassures me.