False Flag

Today, for the first time in 14 years, I visited a "gaming" store. (I can't properly describe the glory, here is a link.) It was lunch time and I was the only customer. The cashier and assumed owner of the place was friendly and he was clearly into a whole bunch of the same stuff that I like. When I left I had to ask myself, why am I not friends with that guy? Why did he act like I was a rattlesnake that was one grumpy thought away from burning his store down and stomping on his favorite dice?

I thought and I pondered and when I got home I looked down at the kitchen table and I saw the answer. On the back of a mostly unread issue of Men's Journal magazine, was this ad.

Oh, it's because I'm a douchebag.

Then I remembered the specific reason I ordered that magazine. I wanted something that "grown-up" dudes read. Something for my 30-something adventurous gentleman demographic. Then I thought about my crispy white shirt. My excitement about my recent weight loss. The way I have practiced being very direct and saying specifically what I mean/want rather than tip-toeing around. And I decided it was time to make a values adjustment or I'm going to chase away more fun people.

The adjustment is to look up and find my flag. The one that says I like imaginary stuff and fun. I like books with talking animals and magic. I think George Takei is fabulous and it's okay for me to pretend that he's actually from Star Trek. I'm not a fan of confrontations or telling people what to do -- I don't have any interns at work right now and I'm not planning to stage a coup so this is professionally "okay". I also kind of enjoy blogging and maybe I should just do that and not think so hard about who or what it's for.

Anyway, deep breath. Time to wake up.

What brought me to that curious store full of windows into my soul, anyway?

I'm in the midst of a scheme to convince people to play a tabletop RPG with me (e.g. Dungeons and Dragons). I thought that I'd be spending months in phase 1. First I'd float the idea. Then I'd work it into some conversations. Then I'd subtly make the idea come up enough that it would seem not-so-weird.

Instead, I floated the idea to Julie, and she said, "Sure, sounds like fun!" Then I mentioned it to my brother-in-law and he was totally on-board. Etc.

Confused and staggered, I started trying to figure out how to deliver. For most of high school, I stayed up until the early hours of the weekend mornings with my friends doing informal versions of these tabletop RPGs. Somebody would come up with a cool idea for what amounted to a choose your own adventure story (often on the spot), we would all grab our dice, the narrator took on the responsibilities of Game Master, and the awesome fun would ensue.

To my continual sadness, my friends live 3 hours away and I suck at keeping up so I can't really lean on them. Without the culture in place, I decided that we should go with an organized gaming "system". Like, Dungeons and Dragons. At first blush, this looked like a juxtaposition of doing my taxes and hand-calculating an iterative computer simulation. Deeper analysis pretty much verified the first opinion. But I'm a fair hand at taxes and simulations, one of our players is a professor of taxes, another has actually played D&D, and I decided that if I was going to go, then I should go old school.

Lots of research later, I went to my local gaming store. He didn't have the introductory box I wanted. I went home, had my life balance epiphany, did some more research, and bought one of these from amazon.

My money says the pointy blue guy with wings is going to win.


Mickey said…
I like the "Beginner Box" part - promising!
Milhous said…
This past semester, I had my students explain D&D to me. It opened my eyes a little.

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