Promptly at 10:30 in the morning last Saturday, a large group of spectators waiting behind the gate near Martin’s Field was called over to the teal blue 1989 Honda Civic of Mr. & Mrs. John Barting. The Civic was parked to the left of the footbridge, as it had been the morning of 13 March 1995. Several of the visitors who had been present at the actual Civil War reenactment on that morning in March immediately noted a glaring anachronism.
The Honda Civic now had higher mileage. On the morning of 13 March 1995 the counter had read 49,877, and for purposes of authenticity should have been rolled back from its current reading of 67,222. Several spectators present agreed rolling back odometers is highly unethical but nevertheless completely necessary in any reenactment of a reenactment. For the interested, there are a number of private mechanics in town that will do that job for a not inconsiderable fee. These mechanics are also reenacters and are uncommonly sympathetic to the plight of those who demand genuineness. The interested should also, while they’re at it, ask about their Civil War discount on tire rotation and chrome plating.
Perhaps more glaring than the higher odometer, however, was the addition of an AAA decal on the lower left bumper, which purists present at the 1995 incident claim was absolutely not on the Civic. One spectator also maintained that the Otto the otter Beanie Baby visible through the back window also had not been in the car on that March day, and intends to research when the Ty toy company first introduced Otto, believing that date to fall somewhere in early 1998. If not 1999! Another spectator suggested that there had been a stuffed animal in the Civic on 13 March 1995 but it was definitely a small Garfield with suction-cupped paws. A short and lively discussion followed but nothing was ultimately concluded.
A quiet took the crowd as the reenactors emerged from a thicket of bushes and stepped into the car. After a few moments of preparation, the reenactment of the reenactment commenced. Karen Barting, here being played by Karen Barting, began to fiddle with the radio knob. On the actual morning of the reenactment, Karen Barting had tuned the radio to 103.4 Classique Rocque, but 103.4 was sold late last year and now plays modern jazz fusion with a dash of pop. It was a discrepancy immediately noticed by all present, sending a ripple of derision through the onlookers. There is another local station that plays classic rock at 90.5 on the dial, but had Mrs. Barting chosen to move the finder down the dial the authenticity of the moment would have still been grievously damaged. Seasoned viewers ultimately whispered that she had made the best decision under bad circumstances.
After tuning the radio, Karen Barting turned to look at husband John Barting, who was sitting in the driver’s seat of the Civic licking his palm and stroking the stray hairs in his beard. Readers will not be surprised to learn that John Barting was here being portrayed by John Barting. John Barting, while some fifty pounds heavier than his March 1995 self, had once again donned the exact flannel shirt and wool trousers, although the fleet of eye could see that the trousers remained undone to allow Mr. Barting the ability to breathe. His kepi, or Civil War era cap, was also the same kepi worn on 13 March 1995, although John Barting’s temples had grown noticeably grayer. Scorekeepers observed that all of Mr. Barting’s apparel was custom-made by Miss Sybil at Sybil’s War on 5th Street, in downtown Jackson. The sassy sort might inquire after his undergarments but we can only hope and assume Mr. Barting is a true reenacter.
Karen looked ready to speak. The crowd drew nearer the Civic.
“John, why aren’t you wearing your glasses?” Karen asked.
That was exactly what she asked on 13 March 1995!
John Barting straightened his shirt. “Hon, look, the boys way back then didn’t wear light bifocals in a titanium frame. I gotta look the part, right?”
Onlookers murmured that Barting had actually used “babe” rather than the more formal “hon” on 13 March. One gentlemen up front with clipboard in hand also raised an eyebrow over “the boys way back then” believing that Barting had said “when” rather than “then” on the date in question.
Karen flipped off the radio (perfect, exactly!) in a peevish fashion. “You need to see out there. Please.”
“Nope, won’t do it,” John countered.
Was it “no” or “nope” back in 1995? If anyone knows for sure, please contact me, either by e-mail or phone before 8 p.m. weeknights.
“Look Johnny, I don’t care what those crazy sixteen-year-olds were doing back in 1863. You’re a middle-aged guy with middle-aged eyes. Please, do your wife a favor.”
Bullseye! Karen sure had her lines down. Had she been working with a coach even? The crowd approved, sounding a smattering of applause.
“Okay, fine.” John said and got out of the car, glasses on.
“I’ll be watching you. You better have ’em on, mister.” Karen yelled after him, and then turned on the radio once more and began tapping her hands on the dashboard.
The mob erupted. A success! After a moment, John and Karen walked over to shake hands and accept much-deserved compliments. A gift basket emerged and was handed to a blushing, nearly blind John. Karen repeated a couple of her lines per a viewer’s request, saying them with a bit more oomph than necessary.
The next reenactment of the Reenactment of the Battle of Turkinsville will take place next Saturday at Martin’s Field. Matt Jensen and Gerry Gonzalez will reenact the incident where they enjoyed a smoke while waiting for their regiment’s tent to be set up prior to the reenactment of the Battle of Turkinsville that took place on 13 March 1995. Gerry has promised to once again tell the ribald story of his bank teller’s daughter, just as he told it to Matt that day. And Matt assures me he is attempting to get sick with a head cold, much like the head cold he had on 13 March 1995. If any of our readers currently has a head cold and wouldn’t mind giving it to Matt, he said he’d be glad to come by your house where you might do some heavy coughing on him in close quarters. Maybe you could even share a can of soda or perhaps engage in a little cuddling of a Platonic nature. Bravo Matt! Glad to see authenticity is alive and well.