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Posts Tagged ‘D&D’

A chapter in Benjamin Nugent’s American Nerd: The Story of My People describes the use of childhood nerdiness as an inner defense against a disordered home life. Nugent cites Dungeons and Dragons, a quite orderly role-playing game, as one of the tools used by a childhood friend to cope with the chaos of a dysfunctional family living in a cluttered home.

A chaotic home life wasn’t a prerequisite to D&D play among my small group of friends in the late 1980s, but an acute sense of “otherness” certainly seemed to be. Yeah, yeah, all teenagers get the feeling that they don’t “belong” at some point, but some of us really didn’t blend into our surroundings. Whereas our classmates were content with pegging their jeans and listening to love songs by Chicago, a few of us were striving for hair colors that didn’t exist in nature and digging around for older stuff from the Violent Femmes and the Sex Pistols.

That’s not to say we didn’t have our Bon Jovi moments, but we didn’t get stuck there. We went all out to discover exotic-to-us bands like Marillion, and a couple of us were even accused of being Satanists after choreographing a talent-show dance routine to a particularly dark Depeche Mode song. (Note to accusers: I bet you’re still cretins.)

Our home lives weren’t what you would call chaos, though some might be termed “loosely structured.”

We belonged in our D&D group, our fates determined by our imaginations and dice rolls. To our parents, it was a safe, acceptable weekend gathering (there was just a bit of intergroup dating, most of which ended amicably). It’s probably the No. 1 reason that I have more male friends than female friends to this day – I had so much fun with the boys (there were usually only two girls in the group) that the girl stuff held no appeal.

Not belonging stinks. But when you ultimately find your people, it’s a better feeling than pretending.

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Soon after we started dating, my future husband and I were walking around the local mall when we spotted a three-sided dagger in the display window of the tobacco/knife/dreamcatcher store (every mall used to have one – it was written in city codes). He said something like, “Weird knife, huh?” So of course I said, “Yeah. It’s a three-sided dagger. It makes a wound that doesn’t close.”

He laughed a little and led me into the store, where he told the salesman, “My girlfriend says that a three-sided dagger makes a wound that won’t close. Is that really what it’s for?”

The salesman dropped to his knees and asked for my hand in marriage. Or at least he should have.

Seriously, he looked at me a little cockeyed and nodded. “Yeah, that’s what they do,” he said.

The boyfriend paled only slightly, and we continued our mall rounds.

It’s still an episode that both of us remember in detail. He found out that I knew more about knives than perhaps a proper young lady should, and I learned that maybe you don’t blurt out all the weird things you know.

Maybe.

(Note: I have since learned that a three-sided dagger doesn’t necessarily make a wound that doesn’t close, but instead makes a wound that is more difficult to close than one made by a single- or double-sided blade. Also, please note that my knowledge of knives comes from a few years of D&D play and more than a few sci-fi/fantasy books. I have never stabbed anyone. Unless the dice told me to.)

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During my holiday time-wasting, I came across the 25 Things About Me meme in dozens of blogs.

I couldn’t come up with 25 fascinating things about myself at once even after a proper dose of coffee. Besides, any list with more than, say, eight items is really pushing the limits of my patience.

Thus, I give you 2 Diametrically Opposed Things About Me:

  • I was a majorette for a year in junior high. Baton, sequins, the works.
  • I still own a set of D&D dice.

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