I don’t live in the past—I only visit—and so can you!


There is a popular concept among many renactors and many folk who call themselves reenactors without understanding what the term means. These are people who are not interested in experiencing and portraying accuracy. It is called the Ten-Foot Rule (or at times the Ten-Inch Rule or the Ten-Yard Rule or, for all I know, the Ten-Mile Rule.

I am not here speaking of the ten-foot rule that was invented by Sam Walton. Rather, I am using the term as conscripted by the reenacting community. Roughly speaking, it says that if you get within ten feet of someone and he does not look like an absolute farb, that is enough.

Find something to be proud of. Ignore or accept anything that isn’t. Wear polyester. Ignore inappropriate spex. A few folk go so far as to say “No one will notice those sneakers because they are black…”

Don’t get me wrong. Living history will always be an illusion. If you cannot see it, if it does affect your historical silhouette, if you feature proper fabric and proper sewing and proper metal, it does not matter. If you are wearing Rupert the Bear underoos, I don’t care as long as the MoPs do not see them. However, when you wear them beneath a kilt and when you die, the kilt flies up around your neck, then I care.

There are, of course, societies that endorse the ten-foot rule. Fine. Hopefully they will recognize the image they are presenting, even if I have to spend more time defending my society’s accuracy and comparing my group’s standards against theirs. And I will, of course, not play in those societies. That is not what I am trying to do, what I endorse. Hopefully, such a person will not be playing with and intermingled with my society, and people will not be confused by the presentations..

When I look at someone who is farby from my society, I can only think that this person is representing me. A knowledgeable MoP will see him and think that everyone in the society has lax standards. A society is judged not by the aspirations of its members or even by its best presentation; it is judged by its worst.

So when someone defends or proposes the ten-foot rule, don’t be surprised by the look on my face. Just do not do this and ask me what I think of it. I don’t think you would like my answer…

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