The Leprechaun and the Water Sprite

Cindy and Craig Martin ranked as two of my all-time favorite patients. Craig, a brilliant engineer, and Cindy, his spunky actress wife, seemed like polar opposites. Curious, I asked them once how they met. After a chuckle, they shared this story: As a struggling actress, Cindy was not above accepting two-bit roles. "I'll do anything, as long as it doesn't involve nudity," she quipped. Her resumé consisted of a stint as Goofy at Disneyland, a commercial for toilet paper, and a non-speaking part as a crowd member in a low-budget, "aliens-take-over-the-earth" horror flick (a film definitely NOT nominated for an Academy Award)! Her pinnacle of thespian accomplishment? Her speaking role as a surgeon's receptionist in a nationally syndicated soap opera where her one line consisted of, "The doctor will see you now."

Thus, when Cindy was offered $100 a day to strut around a Renaissance festival in California dressed as a "Water Sprite," she jumped at the chance. Rent was due next week, and the $300 she'd make at the festival would keep her out of the homeless shelter another month. "Besides, you won't believe the connections you can make at events like this! An actress has to network," she added. Little did she know, her "connection" would include her future husband.

Cindy excitedly donned her adorable water sprite outfit, complete with tiara, wings, sparkly wand, and a filmy light blue gossamer skirt.

Unlike Cindy, Craig ended up at the Renaissance festival kicking and screaming. Turns out, his cousin, an aspiring actor, suddenly came down with a wicked case of food poisoning and could not honor his contract with the Renaissance festival to dress up and strut around as a leprechaun!

"Please, Craig, I've called everyone I know, and you're the only one left to call who could possibly fit into the leprechaun suit. Besides, couldn't you use the $300?"

Could he use the money? Seriously? As a graduate student in Electrical engineering at Stanford, Craig lived hand-to-mouth. His paltry paycheck as a graduate Teaching Assistant left no money for emergencies or new car tires. He had already driven 20,000 miles on tires with no treads whatsoever, and it was getting downright dangerous. The $300 would more than cover the cost of four new tires.

Thus, Craig silenced his pride and crawled into a leprechaun suit, complete with fake pointy ears, a bushy red beard, a green felt hat, green shorts with suspenders, and striped knee socks. The final touch? Pointy shoes that curled at the toes. As he stared in the mirror at the ridiculous get-up, he prayed no one he knew attended the festival.

Craig arrived at the festival and tried his hardest to interact with guests, though he felt like an idiot. What had possessed him to think he could act like a leprechaun? He was an engineer, for Pete's sake!

And then it happened. He glanced up and saw a water sprite with blond curls, cornflower blue eyes, dimples, and a winsome smile. As she recounted a tale about a fairy in Ireland, the cluster of children around her gazed up with huge, mesmerized eyes. She waved her wand and even danced an Irish jig. Craig found himself so enchanted he couldn't pull his eyes away. Not only did she look the part, she had done her homework about water sprites so she could fully entertain the children with her stories and dance steps.

As the group of children moved on, she must have sensed him staring at her, for she turned and looked at him and then extended a friendly hand and warm smile. Craig felt his cheeks flush in embarrassment.

He'd just met the woman of his dreams, but here he stood dressed in baggy green shorts, pointy ears, a bushy red beard, and shoes that curled at the toes! He may as well have crawled off a box of Lucky Charms!

Way to impress a beautiful woman! Worse, he'd been so caught of guard, he barely remembered his name, let alone uttered something intelligent.

Soon, another family approached her, and she resumed beguiling the public with her engaging stories and lively dancing.

He rushed away mortified. She must think you strut around in leprechaun suits because you can't get a job doing anything else! Some first impression!

But try as he might, Craig could not get the beautiful water sprite out of his mind. Since he had committed to working two more days at the festival, he'd have two more chances to pique her interest. Perhaps all was not lost. After all, he didn't make it through Stanford by being a quitter!

That night, Craig researched everything he could find about the legend of leprechauns. He practiced speaking with an Irish brogue and even mastered a simple clogging number, thanks to a You Tube tutorial. He rigged up a fake bag of gold to accompany his story about the rainbow. Perhaps if he stood in the vicinity of the water sprite and offered his own tales of Irish lore, she would discover he could string two sentences together without stammering. At the end of their workday, he'd be sure to tug off his fake ears and beard, so she could witness firsthand that behind the leprechaun garb was a normal-looking guy! He would casually offer to buy her dinner at the end of their shift since neither would have eaten dinner yet. A local Irish pub, perhaps?

You guessed it! Before the three-day festival was over, the leprechaun and the water sprite were smitten with one other. Maybe there was magic in that fairy wand after all!

The rest of their story, like all good fairy tales, ends with "and they lived happily ever after."