Sunday, May 6, 2012


  With the recent release of The Avengers (and no, I haven't seen it yet, I'm waiting a week as I go on a business trip) it reminds me of my stint in high-school with a guy named Kevin Smith (or, at least I think that was his name, shame on me for forgetting it from 25 years ago).  When I got to high-school I had few friends.  A few carried over from middle-school but several went to a vocational school (which, in hindsight might have been a better idea, because those kids graduated at 16 and got IROC Camaros afterwards and $15 an hour in 1986, something I didn't manage until 1996).  During lunch, it was boring, and my middle-school chums weren't at my lunch period, so I was geographically separated.  Lunch as a freshman in high school isn't great, and heck I was 13 years old (I stared early, and the height difference of a 13 vs. 14 year old is astronomical as parents will probably know, maybe a foot difference) so I seemed the runt (though I playfully consider myself the Henery Hawk Chickenhawk-sized Warner Brothers cartoon character).

  A sophomore kid named Kevin Smith (again, if I butchered the name, and it's like Steve Smith or some such, I apologize, if he's even still alive) came up after about a few weeks of lunch solitude, nearly 6 feet tall, nerdy, glasses, skinny, and asked if he could sit there.  Later he became my first gay lover whore-slut (hahahahaha no, just kidding).  We started chatting about interests and what not, and in 1983 I was in to the fairly new game Dungeons & Dragons.  It was a spoken type kind of game that involved multi-sided dice and you'd see what sort of things would happen under certain conditions.  It's a bit ubiquitous now, and even sports idiots are playing it by way of Fantasy Football leagues.  An example of it is that there's at least two people, though the more the merrier (to a point, you don't want 20 folks probably).  One person is dubbed the "DM" or Dungeon Master (no sexual references here) who would narrate what the other player sees and/or encounters in the same way a PS3 might visually show you on the screen what's happening, "You're in a large field with hills when you see a bear walking on its hind legs turn to you.  You notice to your horror it also has a mace and an owl's head.  It screeches in a way that chills your blood and it runs towards you, mace held high.  What do you do?"  The "player" would then probably ready his longsword or what not.  Combat would consist of the same way modern games do it behind the scenes.  The player would have a character sheet that would determine the player's hit points, speed, etc.  The "DM" would have a large book that would have the creature's same statistics as well as other creatures' stats.  Dice would be rolled to determine damage received or taken based on the speed, strength, etc. and damage dealt would be subtracted from the hitpoints.  In a way it was better than modern games because the DM could be very animated in his descriptions and play-out by hand gestures and such the enemy's movements a little in a theatrical sense, giving immersion.  This also embraced creativity.  In the above scenario, the player could run away, attack, or whatever they wanted.  I myself might have ran, open-armed to the OwlBear happily smiling, "Mom!"  Hey, it's just me.

  We played D&D a little bit for a week or so until we both realized we loved Marvel's comic, X-Men.  At the time, issue 175 or so, just when the Dark Phoenix Saga was playing-out, which was the same as the more recent trilogy of movies that came out starting in 2000 (though the movie had Rogue and Iceman being 16 years old instead of 30 and 50 respectively as Iceman was a very old character by this point from the earliest of issues).  Talk became somehow more unusual as we converted D&D to X-Men and we played-out X-Men scenarios where I was a non-mutant character somehow along-for-the-ride in their events but able to do some mild acrobatics.  I was sort of the Robin character from DC in a way, now that I think of it, though no pantslessness or mask or tights.  This X-Men/D&D crossover became actually popular years later (it being 1983 at the time) as a D&D variant and also in gaming on PC and some consoles like XBox and PS2 in City of Heroes.  The scenarios usually involved fighting enemies like Juggernaut and Magneto, though there were no character sheets at the time, we sort of "winged" it, and also character drama between me and all the female X-Men (of course) to include Kitty Pryde (who I had a crush on in real life, though she was just a character in a comic book), Rachel (Phoenix's daughter), and Rogue as well as others.

  This lasted for 3 years and somehow we both had lunch together all three to our surprise and it made to pass the time.  We never hung out any other time, just at lunch, and played-out these little scenarios.  Once and a while we'd flip it around where he'd be playing as a character, just for kicks, but it usually involved me getting one of the other X-Men females jealous of the other in some way (so hard to choose) and bosses blowing things up everywhere and helping Wolverine and company stop the bad guys.  Pure teen adventure stuff.
  Eventually, he graduated and joined the Marines or some such (I think) (good luck finding a Kevin Smith on Google btw) and we parted ways.  I remember he was a bit down about it 'cuz we had such a good time and we walked home together for the first and only time, finishing up loose ends in the elaborate story plot.  The five miles walk from the school to home was story-rich, and we parted ways forever.
  I'll always remember my "offline" gaming scenarios fondly, the specifics elude me, but the main plots are still vivid, better than any resolution Sony can put-out now, or forever.

  The next year, my senior year, was as if Smith's training was all worthwhile.  I started dating, and eventually ended up in a girl clique I dubbed, "The Brat Pack" who all hung out and were like a girl biker gang (without the bikes) and I dated most of 'em to their jealousies and squabbles.  Eventually, the Velma-from -ScoobyDoo of the group took pity on me when they all decided I was a liability to their friendship several months later decided to keep me for herself, "If you all don't want him, I'll take him!"  This made the other girls livid and kicked her out of the gang.  In the end, however, thanks to Kevin Smith, I got the girl.

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