When I Need A Pick Me Up, by my friend Ryan King

Thursday, March 6, 2008

My Inner Geek

The passing of Gary Gygax has brought out the most wonderful and inspirational stories of early geek life across the internet from bloggers and audio-adventure peers. So I knew I'd be sharing mine sooner or later--I've just never really exposed my geek side here as much as I have in all points around the net. This is kind of the place that I come to try to face reality, actually.

But since I've decided to give up on love, I might as well show the fullness of my inner geek here too.

On Friday nights, I am an 11th level Master Conjurer, ala D&D 3.5 Prestige Class rules. I look forward to the chance each week to become this wizard like Q looks forward to Fringes. The name I chose for this character is the same name I first chose when I played my first game of D&D back in the early eighties. In addition, back then, that wizard had a pseudodragon familiar that I was able through the present rules to duplicate the wonder for my Friday night wizard to also have a psuedodragon. I bought a stuffed dragon so when we play, I could role play in earnest by having 'my' dragon perched on 'my' shoulder.

But slightly before I played D&D, it was me and CHILDHOOD BUD, just the two of us, playing Tunnels & Trolls!! Off my head, I dunno who made that game up, but it was like D&D lite. I devised these wan torture chambers for Childhood Bud to pace his characters through, as I tried to pop them off one by one. He and I, two black kids in a black neighborhood, hidden away in his bedroom like aliens trying to rebuild our jumpdrive so we could get the hell back to our home planet.

Then came junior high school and me trying to date DeeDee and failing miserably, and being way too in with my friend-girls to the point where my Jr.High peers (such that they were) were asking if I were gay, and my friend-girls were trying to encourage me to go spread my wings in the dating scene, and I was using fundamentalist Christianity to hide my absolute terror of sex--one day afterschool were a group of kids playing D&D at a lunch table. Well, I knew a little about it from me and Childhood Bud's forays into T&T, so I asked, and they invited me, and down I sat. Possibly the first black D&D'er in all of Spring Valley.

Oh God, such fun times. And while I tried to be the absolute best Christian the world had ever seen, I still played D&D. It was during these days that I met the lad who would grow up to become My Friend The Doctor. Eventually our guiltmongering pastor pressed my conscience into believing that God hated me if I kept playing, so I burned all my D&D books and stayed away for about a decade. Went out to Missouri to become a preacher, in fact. (With My Friend The Doctor following close behind). When it all started going pear-shaped in Missouri, and My Friend The Doctor finding his true love and growing up faster than I have yet to achieve, I'm sure something inside me said "F*CK IT." I went back to roleplaying games.

Through the One Guy who I played with WAY back in at the Junior High school lunchtable, I learned of a Westchester, NY (yes, where Charles Xavier teaches mutants. Well--taught mutants. Until he took a bullet to the melon. Ooops. Spoilers.) group that I would sit in on and play pickup characters whenever I visited NY during the summers. This was me coming back with a slice of humble pie and saying, "Hey I know I dumped you for God, but I want to play again." One Guy and his friends let me in. Out of that group I met Grim Jester.

When the Missouri days finally ended and I landed in Trenton, I became a full on player with the Westchester group. We still play to this day--but only every three weekends or so because they all "have lives". Whatever. Back then, I also started a group in Trenton NJ by trolling the yahoo forums for any takers, because my Westchester homies weren't coming fast enough with my drug. In Trenton we played for a good few years until I made my first move into NYC (and started my first blog). Then in NYC I found another group through One Guy (again) because he had moved on from the Westchester group (I didn't).

So now I play with the Westchester folks and the NYC folks.

In NY; this is how we do it--
This is the boardroom of one of our players in his midtown Manhattan workplace were we meet. That's my computer and its' wallpaper. Yes, that's My Hero on my computer.

My miniature, representing my Master Specialist (Conjurer), is the second from the left. You will see the very much smaller mini which represents my pseudodragon. I bought the stuffed dragon because I kept forgetting that I had the 'dragon to use.

These are my dice. The multicolor 6-sided ones have among their number dice from back in my Jr. High days. Yes, I spread them out like this often, and group the multi-sided ones together, because I like to look at them while there is downtime. Because they're pretty.

Yes, I am actually QUITE the geek. I've been a geek longer than I've been anything else, except black. Longer than I've been a Christian, in fact.

Good thing I've given up on love! Because now seeing my Inner Geek from the outside looking in, I'm quite sure I'd have never gotten a woman anyway.

Well, who cares!? I've got my psuedodragon!!


Susan said...

That is one of the nicest psuedodragons ever. Be proud of your inner geek!

Cyber D said...

I'm pretty impressed you've managed to move around as much as you have and yet uncovered fellow gamers you were comfortable enough with to play D&D. RPG's are an extreamly personal experiance for me and I find it difficult playing with anyone but the closest of friends. Of course which comes first the chicken or the egg? Reading your post makes me wonder if I've missed out on making some great friends second after RPGing with them first.

GrizzBabe said...

Embrace you inner geek! You just might find someone who is willing to embrace it too.

Alan said...

Susan and Grizz, my inner geek is one part about me of which I shall never be ashamed. I relish the opportunities to dream and to enjoy other dreams. I count myself very blessed that I have the kind of mind that can open to fantastic possibilities.

CyberD, it's actually ironic. Clearly, I have social phobias that limit me on a personal level. But when it came to searching out players for D&D, I was confident enough in the type of people that would show up--I had faith in my fellow geek. We did get one extremely odd fellow, but the others took a nurturing attitude to him and kind of protected him when the rules got too complex for him, or his roleplaying choice were a bit too odd. It could've been so much worse.

I think the atmosphere is right in things like roleplaying games for meeting strangers. Because you really don't have to be yourself at first exposure, other than a geek who loves to game. That's all you have to present to them, and you can be confident that they have on the same hat. Then when you're playing, you can take the role of the character you portray. You still don't have to be yourself. You can be haughty like your wizard, brave like your fighter, sly like your rogue, or braggadocious like your bard. Eventually, the longer you game with these people, the more you see the player behind the character sheet, and the more they see you. You can choose over time whether to let your guard down or not.

For me, dating is the polar opposite. You come to the dinner table with only one side of yourself to show--the vulnerable side that wants to be loved. The side of you that has failed up to then to be successful in relationships.

I have written earlier on that I am the master of escapism, and now you see why. Given the choice between A) finding socially acceptable clothes, having properly cut hair, and having the right income to attract a woman or B) Hiding behind the facade of an adventurer living out virtual victories in a mythical land of legend -- I have chosen the land of legend every time. It's much less exhausting.

SolarisGal said...

Alan that's nice! But if I were there, I'd take the dice and keep rolling them, and probably get on your nerves! Okay, now I'll confess that I have an inner geek too: Video games! LOL

Alan said...

Sol, I caught on that you're vid game girl, either from your blog or comments at other blogs! And I remembered that about you. You'd really like My Hero and maybe the audio dramas we do. Geek that I am, I've never gotten much into vid games. I've played Neverwinter Nights and City of Heroes, but that's about it...