WARNING: The following story is going to paint the author (me) as petty, selfish, immature and hypersensitive. And that’s because, well, I am. No one is more fully aware of…uh…myself than…myself. I am a hopelessly egotistical rabid manchild…in training.
But let’s start at the beginning.
In 2011, a friend of mine decided to form a gaming group that would meet on Mondays. Originally, it was tailored as a roleplaying (read: D&D-type stuff) session with the possibility of other games thrown in on the off-days. And for a while, that’s exactly what it was - strictly a roleplaying group.
Earthdawn was the game du jour, and there were around six of us total. That changed, however, when the DM (i.e. Dude-in-Charge-of-Quest) had to bail out on the weekly sessions due to his work schedule. From that point on, it morphed into a board game/card game group.
A quick aside: I suck at games. All games. If it’s an exercise in competition, I will have no aptitude for it. I’m not smart enough, strategically-minded enough, patient enough, or focused enough for them. Videogames, included. Until that year, I was a “casual” gamer at best - a non-entity at worst. Unfortunately, it was the only way I could see this group of friends on a regular basis.
While the roster of participants was a revolving door, there were four regulars besides myself. Sansai was the de facto host - an army veteran and alpha gamer. Then there was NinjaSpecs, whom I’ve mentioned a couple of times - my monotone, hilarious half-Asian drinking buddy. Lastly, there was the married couple - Hubbit (he…uh…looked like a Hobbit and was a husband) and BBC, short for “Big Black C**K”. She was a tiny thing with a sweet disposition…that happened to act like a very well-endowed - and articulate - African American man.
The usual suspects, as far as games were concerned, ranged from Settlers of Catan to all incarnations of FLUXX, and further down the pit to Munchkin land. All of these games were fun, imaginative, inspired much laughter…and brought out the worst in people. The problems with a lot of games geared toward the nerd/geek set are the rules. Most of them encourage backstabbing, even the tame ones.
What does that mean for someone like me? Well, in every group or herd there is - what I like to call - the “weak gazelle”.
They are generally the slowest, feeblest and most gullible member of the group. By design or circumstance, they are also often the butt of a lot of the jokes because of the traits mentioned above. In my group, granted, everyone ribbed on everyone else. But it felt like I absorbed the lion’s share. Then again, I am a hopelessly egotistical rabid manchild-in-training.
As years wore on, so did my tolerance of this dynamic. One can only go so long being the foil. Eventually, the group - no matter how well-intentioned - seems like a chore. An activity that was supposed to be fun turns into a task. I started thinking of things I’d rather be doing than gaming.
I got the sense they could detect my drifting as well. Did I think they relegated me to punching bag on purpose? Heck no. They were all fine folks, and they did what was natural. Perhaps because of who/how I was, the environment continued to come across as toxic.
In the last month or two, I bandied words with my sister/roommate about my misgivings toward the gaming group. She thought I should maintain it, so that I’d remain social. I wanted to rebuke her with, “What you do you mean, I’m plenty socia-”
Wait a tick.
I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed. Not sure when it occurred or how, but I really didn’t have that much of a social life anymore. A mere five years ago, my calendar was always full with this-party or that-gathering. Sometime between ‘08 and ‘09, it all dried up. Aside from the odd special occasion - weddings, open houses, baby showers et al. - I was alone. My regular hangout crews were family members…and my gaming group.
Maybe my sister had a point.
On a recent Monday, I had to text the gaming group informing them I was bowing out for the night. My work shift didn’t end until 7PM. Even if I did make it to Sansai’s house, I would only be there for two hours. Not enough time, or at least that was my excuse.
I texted Sansai, saying I couldn’t make it.
He replied with this picture.
A bottle of bourbon barrel-aged Belgian quad. That wasn’t just a “nectar-of-the-gods” beer; that was nectar strait from the four teats of the Beer Goddess herself! The picture was sent fifteen minutes before I was off shift.
I texted, “Why are you trying to tempt me?”
“Peer pressure,” he responded.
At 7PM, I sighed. “Just got off work. On my way.”
As I drove, I thought to myself, Maybe I am being too harsh on the group. Perhaps I can keep an open mind - give it a go still.
I was there in ten minutes.
When I came through the door, everyone was well into a game of Dominion. I took a seat and saw the quad bottle in all its majesty. I also saw the contents of said bottle poured into the glasses of Sansai and NinjaSpecs.
“So, is there any left?” I asked. (Well, more like pleaded.)
NinjaSpecs pretended to examine the bottle. “I suppose you could lick the bottom of it.”
My lower lip practically quivered…and I almost wept.
I’d been beer-trolled.
There are some jokes made at my expense that I can take in stride. Tricking me with false information? Easy to do, I’m kinda gullible. Tripping me? Been done before, I can walk it off. Luring me to a game night with a rare f**king beer…and not saving me any? No. Just…no. I have my limits, and they are petty. As we’ve already established, I am a hopelessly egotistical rabid manchild-in-training.
My sadness turned into pure, seething (but quiet) rage. If I didn’t have a smart phone to peruse the Internet on, I would’ve flipped the table. So, I sat there. Silently. Chiming in only with the occasional grunt or word.
Their game of Dominion had finished, and they decided to start another. BBC looked at me and asked, “Shall we deal you in?”
I responded with…
That round ended a half-hour later, and the group agreed on Heroes of Graxia next. BBC asked again, “You want in?”
I responded with…
Somewhere down the line, I also mentioned I had to leave at 9PM. Early work shift the next day and all; it was mostly true. The unspoken kernel of truth was that I wanted out of their quicker than a vegan in a chop-shop.
NinjaSpecs chimed in with, “Are you sure? You don’t want any of this Belgian quad?”
“But that’s yours,” I grumbled. Taking a sip as I said it.
It was glorious, which made me all the angrier.
8:50PM, and I was done. I got up, said my farewells and headed out the door. The air was cold, the ground - wet. I shivered both out of rage and from my complete lack of coat. I drove home with no radio, teeth in a vice-like grit.
That was it. I was done with that group. Or at least, done with the gaming aspect of it. No more weak gazelle, no more foil, and definitely…no more beer-trolling. They could summon another sucker for all I cared. Was it too impulsive a conclusion? Damn right, it was. But what else do you expect from a hopelessly egotistical rabid manchild-in-training?
Ugh, there has to be a way to shorten that - an acronym, perhaps? Let me think.
Hopelessy Egotistical Rabid Manchild-In-Training.
I see what I did there.
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