Thursday, April 25, 2013

Friday Night BASH! - By Aaron Teixeira

The Sentinel’s robotic voice emits, “Mutant Identified, Randal Beaman aka Ripple, powers: teleportation and gateway.” It’s Friday night at Shannon’s house, and my friend Chris is running the rpg he wrote, BASH! ( It’s a superhero roleplaying game he published on his own. Tonight my depraved mutant character is Ripple, who has the ability to open tears in space/time and walk through them. But he doesn't quite live up to his potential and drinks too much, so his "ripples" usually only go to the ‘Jersey side of the Hudson River. He has accidently brought his band of superhero compatriots to the ‘Days of Future Past’ dystopia from old school Marvel. They are: Jade Katana, Smokescreen (disadvantaged to be mistaken for the Human Torch), Mandar (A gamer who has all of the powers from his rpg and comic books), and Jenni’s genius Wunderkind the telekinetic prodigy.
The new guy at the table, Leon, is quiet, but he’s super engaged in the game, which I’m always grateful for. See, usually, game Friday night is an exercise in controlled chaos, Chris leans across to my friend and physicist Shannon, “You have to roll against being frozen solid.” As deadly serious as a mortician.
After it’s determined Shannon’s character will survive the attack, the cat meows for attention. Somehow beaming and seething simultaneously, Shannon lets out a resounding, “FUCK YOU PIXIE!” in a high pitched voice that still manages to carry love and affection for the feline. The cat’s just a convenient scapegoat for Shannon’s disdain at Jade Katana having almost been frozen. Before the cat can register an objection to this injustice though, it’s on to the next person in the initiative order.
Across the table Chris narrates, “So he chopped a streetlight in half and [the Sentinel] moves its hand in front of the telekinetic attack like Darth Vader and blocks it!” Chris later reiterated to Smokescreen, “You are not immune to lasers!” This is one of my favorite people in Ever. If you meet Chris, ask him about the coolest use of a dagger in a movie? He’ll present a well reasoned argument that will sway you.
Shannon’s grading papers, and in the chaos there’s this need to connect with one another. All the things must be shared, all the news, like those binary creatures in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" 11001001 (1988), we’re all eagerly trying to download the last three months or so since we’ve last seen one another. My friend Nesto and I have spent the evening laughing as I download his marvel comics on the work iPad. And all the while the sound of dice rolling on the table comforting as a mother’s lullaby.
I sometimes balk at self identifying as a geek. It’s always been a sore spot for me. The name calling. When Friday night is largely happening between characters with superpowers in the shared imagined space inside our heads, though, it’s difficult to deny. I’m a geek. There’s power in that simple statement. The cooption of the derisive. Taking ownership of the word and making it a proud statement of subcultural status.
The struggle began when I was in first grade. My ADD got me held back - a fact which my mother, a School Principal, decided to rectify the next year by taking me out of that school and putting me in hers; in the grade she thought I should be in. So I left my elementary school and for third and fourth grade I went somewhere else. Then I came back. Now, that’s a long way of saying, I was different. When I came back, the other kids that recognized me, made fun.
The teasing wasn’t helped by my fascination with my big brother’s D&D games, pouring over the rules books for Steve Jackson’s “Car Wars”, nor my efforts to demonstrate role playing games during recess for my equally teased and awkward friend Garrott. 
My premature efforts to comprehend the rule books for Steve Jackson’s “Car Wars”, the Monster Manual, my genuine awkwardness, and a thousand other factors all lead to increasingly intolerable levels of teasing. It got physical. Well, I tried to take steps. I tried to co-op the most hurtful word to me. The one I hated the most. “Dork”.
During assembly one day, I convinced Garrott that we could take control of the situation if we took some of those sticky nametags and I wrote “Dork” on them. And wore them. We wore “dork”
at the bullies. I figured if I called myself a dork, I’d be taking that away from them, (now that I look back, pretty sophisticated behavioral science for a fifth grader). Needless to say, this experiment didn’t exactly prove the hypothesis. Garrott and I were ridiculed mercilessly.
After that Garrott didn’t hang out with me, I think his parents said he couldn’t. My efforts had cost me the one friend I had. Fifth grade pretty much sucked after that. Except for History lectures. During those, it was like story time, and I could imagine myself as the great figures of the past. I swear I remember one time recess let out after a history period discussing the Civil War, and I charged around the play yard galloping on my imaginary horse and swinging an imaginary saber. One of the other kids asked me what I was doing and I happily told him I was Abraham Lincoln, fighting to free the slaves. I was kind of a dork. But now I’m a dork with a degree in history.
I’m sharing this with you in an effort to understand my culture. Geek culture. I’m adding my voice to the discourse. Because I’m starting to think I may have been onto something, I just abandoned the experiment before I had sufficient data. So let’s try again:
I am a geek. I imagine I have superpowers on Friday nights. And it’s not that I don’t care what you think, quite the contrary, I care very much, it’s just that I think I can take it. And now I have a pit bull named The Doctor, and she’s pretty jealous about being the only bully in my life.

1 comment:

  1. This is awesome and epic. But I have two words for you: "Missile Toes".