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Stay-At-Home Dad: Joyous joust

Peter Ludwig stocks Medieval Times.  |  Howard A. Ludwig~For Sun-Times Media

Peter Ludwig in the stocks at Medieval Times. | Howard A. Ludwig~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 8, 2013 6:16AM



As much as I like being called “my lord,” I equally dislike calling a waitress “wench.” And yet those are the rules at Medieval Times in Schaumburg.

My family of four visited the castle perched beside Interstate 90 last week. The replica fortress is an impressive site. We were part of a group of 17 parents and children, all of us making our inaugural trip to the king’s court.

Tickets aren’t cheap: $59.95 for adults and $35.95 for children 12 and younger. That doesn’t include tax, gratuity or a $4 online processing fee. We took advantage of a buy-one, get-one spring break deal. Still, the cost to walk into the castle was $140.

Upon arrival, the adults flocked to the bar. The kids then attempted to pull us into the gift shop. There’s a full assortment of light-up swords, princess headdresses, wooden shields and dragon tchotchkes to entice the little lords and ladies.

My 6-year-old son sat and stared at an armory of steel broadswords, spears and axes for sale. Bubba merely adored the pricey blades, until spotting a small dagger (about the size of a letter opener) for $11. The rest of the evening he lobbied for this tiny sword as though he’d found the key to the gates of heaven.

We were eventually seated in the red and yellow knight’s cheering section. The arena that debuted in 1991 is divided into various sections, each rooting for a warrior wearing a different color. Our knight looked like he was draped in the German flag — appropriate for the Ludwig party.

Our waitress introduced herself as “your serving wench, Meg.” She was young and had a bright smile.

Still, I felt bad. The waitresses are made to wear low-cut outfits. They carry huge trays of food and serve an audience of half-buzzed parents and adrenalized children. Their reward is being referred to as “wenches.”

“Can I get a fork?” one member of our party asked, mocking Medieval Times’ no-silverware policy.

“Did you just say the ‘F’ word?” Meg replied, clearly prepared for the gag.

When it was time for drinks, she carried a total of six pitchers on her tiny tray. Then our wench poured cups of Pepsi, lemonade and water in the dark without spilling a drop. I was impressed; particularly considering a tip wasn’t included for our party of 17.

The kids were impressed with the sword fights and jousting. The balsa wood lances explode upon impact. And the swords spark as the knights clash them together. Our knight proved to be quite the competitor, though he lost the final battle of the choreographed tournament.

I was thoroughly entertained for the evening. We were sending our defeated knight back to his dressing room with a final hoorah when Meg made her last pass.

She placed a small tray beside each adult, reminding everyone that a tip would be appreciated. I gave her $12.

“Thank you, my lord,” she replied.

Had I known she was going to say that I’d have left a twenty.

Howard A. Ludwig is a former SouthtownStar business reporter who traded his reporter’s notepad for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.

He can be reached at howardaludwig@yahoo.com.



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