So, periodically people who’ve just listened to some of the earlier podcasts or read some of my earlier rantings on wanting to game and not being allowed to by the only gamers I knew (boys), ask me, “So, what did you do?”
And I’ve actually been giving that a lot of thought lately. What did I do for an imaginative outlet when I wasn’t able to game?
Well, I wrote. Copiously. I wrote original stories, I copied down the particularly awesome scenes from books I loved (the scene in Dracula where he forces Mina to drink his blood springs readily to mind) and dissected them for what made them awesome. I played “Let’s Pretend” alone in my room, well into my teens, lying on my bed, staring at the ceiling and making up stories. I wrote fan-fiction.
I wrote co-operative fan-fiction. I didn’t know that’s what I was doing, but that’s what it was. My best friend Dawne and I wrote “raunchy” (for values of raunchy equal to 16 year olds who’d never had consensual sex but had seen an assload of porn. Which is to say, we got a lot REALLY wrong) stories about bands we were crushing on. I seem to remember Guns and Roses and LA Guns featuring heavily in some of those stories. We would pass each other pages long notes we had written in class, living in terror that some teacher would confiscate one and read it aloud, or start to, before they realized the pure filth they had in their hands. (Pure filth to us, really pretty tame.) We’d meet in the hallway at our locker, and hand off four or five pages of notebook paper to the other to continue the story.
Sometimes we used it to get back at one another. We’d write one another doing bizarre, embarassing or fucked up stuff to get a rise out of them. When the victim would read it, they’d blush while trying desperately not to, and say, “Yeah, whatever.” Then scribble feverishly when it was their turn, trying to top whatever it was that was soooooo embarassing.
I have a 3-ring binder full of those stories. Stories about bands, about vampires, about guys we went to school with.
I think that’s part of what weirds me out about real person fic posted online. When we did this, we knew it was this weird transgressive thing, and we didn’t want anyone but us to read it. Most especially, we didn’t want anyone we actually wrote about to read it or even know it existed. But a lot of the people who post it seem to WANT their celebrity crushes to read it. Which strikes me as sort of weird and stalkery. Granted, I’m sure that the guys in our school we wrote about were a little weirded out by the two underclassmen who would burst into giggles whenever they walked by. But truthfully, we were totally not the only ones. Man, I wish I had a yearbook from that school, and you’d see what I mean.
I’d all but forgotten that it even existed, then last year I decided to go through some boxes of my old writing to clear it out and consolidate.
I just couldn’t bring myself to throw it out. That pink binder with the picture of Brett Michaels of Poison on the front cover (the 80s!) represents six months of labor with one of my best friends. It represents hanging out with the other kids in the cheap condos built on the fringes of the old money neighborhood. It represents late nights giggling over elicit wine coolers and watching Head Banger’s Ball on MTV, and oooo-ing and ah-ing over Adam Curry and some of the guys on Dance Party USA (oh yes, the USA network had a teen dance show). It represents being able to look out our bedroom windows and wave to each other, because our cheap townhouses backed up on each other. It also represents being on the outside because of all those things. Hanging out with each other because for a good chunk of that time we were all we had.
So, yeah, that’s what I did instead of gaming. I told collaborative stories without dice and without rules. I created worlds with a friend, where we were the heroes and got the guys.
So, yeah, instead of gaming, I gamed.
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