1) What was it that first drew you to the SCA? By this I mean, what was the thing that you read, saw, heard about the SCA that made you want to get involved?
The first thing I ever heard about the SCA was in high school. A friend had gone down to an event near Duke University, and came back ranting about how cool it had been, with all these people in armor hitting each other and stuff. I thought it sounded completely insane, and vowed to stay away from this group. (I then forgot this story until I'd been in the Society for several years.)
I actually discovered the SCA at the Activity Fair at my college (Brandeis University), a few days into freshman year. I had promised myself that I would get involved in a couple of fun, strange clubs, and stop being such an introvert. (No, really -- I was deadly shy in high school, the classic nerd who no one talked to.)
Anyway, I walked into the ballroom, and started looking around the tables, one per club. From the corner, I could hear a loud thudding sound, sort of vaguely metallic. I drifted over, and found a guy holding a sword, hitting it against a helm being worn by a girl. This clearly qualified as strange, at least, so I inquired further.
2) What was the first step you took as a newcomer to get involved in the SCA?
About two nights after the aforementioned story was the borough's organizational meeting for the year, which I went to. It was very well-attended, with the better part of twenty people there. They explained what the SCA was, how to get involved (they had signup sheets for trips to dance practice, fighting practice, and so on), just generally encouraged everyone quite well. I expressed interest (this sounded both strange and fun), and by the time the meeting completely broke up, I found myself Deputy Provost. (Essentially deputy seneschal for the borough.) This pretty much set the tone for my SCA career ever since -- I'm very, very good at getting in over my head if I'm not actively avoiding it.
3) Who was the most influential person in your decision to join the SCA?
There are a number of possible answers. I quickly wound up close friends with several people at that initial meeting, and we soon turned into the new core of the borough. And it didn't hurt that I soon wound up dating a very nice lady from the borough next door (now-Baroness Cynthia du Pres Argent). But really, the main influences at the beginning were Nicolai and Arianwen (respectively, the guy who had been holding the sword, and the lady in the helmet).
Nicolai Hinidin wasn't the only person running the borough (there were really three people his year, who had collectively brought things back to life), but he was very much the motivating force. He was possibly the strongest fire spirit I've ever run across, the person who initially created my concept of "extreme people". Very energetic, very charismatic, and not terribly concerned with minor details like reality. This is a guy who had left the West Kingdom for college, vowing to Show Those Easterners How It's Really Done -- and then, a year later, went back home to Show Those Westerners How It's Really Done. He was only about a year older than me, and had only been in the SCA for about two years, but he oozed worldly-wise in the whole thing, and did much to tutor me through those early months.
Arianwen of Urquhart was Nicolai's lady, from Felding (Wellesley College, the aforementioned borough next door). She was a couple of years older and quite a bit more experienced -- of the lot of us, she was the only one with an AoA. Since it became pretty quickly clear that I was winding up in their household, we decided that I would formally equerry to Arianwen (even though the reality was that I was mostly hanging around Nicolai). It still irks me that I seem to have lost my copy of the indenture somewhere in the ensuing years.
Nicolai and Arianwen split, quite a number of years ago. He wound up dropping out of the SCA, and is now (or was last time I saw him) a terribly respectable nuclear physicist, a devout member of his shul and head of his synogogue's youth group. (To the utter astonishment of we who remember him in his rakish, hyper-pagan days.) Arianwen is still mildly active, and still a friend; indeed, effectively a sister now, since I wound up in House Silverwing, which she was a founding member of.