Monday, April 12, 2010

The Dood.

A birthday post from a good friend triggered some nostalgia. "The Dude abides." - The Big Lebowski.

Over the past few months, I've been catching up on content generated by one Wil Wheaton. He's a terrific writer and stories like his are what I hope to one day commit to the bits and pixels that make up this blog. He's a few years older than I, and as I read his work, I see his footprints on the path to maturity that I am walking. It could be the same for all 30-somethings of our generation, but I find it comforting that someone else has had nearly the same feelings and been able to express them in such an eloquent way.

He has also been blogging for a few years longer, and has a rich catalog of prior material to troll through for inclusion in his podcasts and books. I have little doubt that he will find himself, in his later years, with the extraordinary undertaking of culling from scores of missives, those stories to include in his memoir. His children will also have the gift of a written account of who he is and why. I would like the same for mine.

Remember Spin-jas? I guess their closest corollary would be Bakugan or something like that. They were these little tops with ninja torsos that loaded into handheld, spring-loaded, launchers. In a small arena, the two gladiators would whirl like the Tasmanian Devil, gliding toward each other to impact briefly and fly away, with the winner being the last one remaining in the ring. Today I found this to be a metaphor for my experience with D&D, which was the subject of the Radio Free Burrito episode I was listening to at the time.

Throughout my formative years, I would have fleeting encounters with Dungeons and Dragons, which were just enough to make me aware of it, but I had no way of getting into the game. I remember nights at my grandmother's house where my uncle and his friends were gathered around a folding card table, the intensity of their focus and enjoyment drawing me to them the way a gas giant attracts a new moon. I think I was in first or second grade at the time, and way too young to play with teenagers, much less grasp the fundamentals of the game. I can still see my uncle's character sheet, a jumble of numbers and words in a format that made no sense to me then, but in which I would now be able to see a fully realized character. It's like 'The Matrix,' where they look at the symbols crawling down the screen and see a blonde, brunette, or redhead.

The next flash is watching the D&D cartoon on Saturday mornings and cheering on the party in their struggle against Venger. Again I'm in my grandmother's house, but this time in the den, and I have not a care in the world.

A third instance is the movie 'E.T.,' which to this day can still crit against my will stat to sell me a bag of Reese's Pieces, but didn't have a lasting effect on my wisdom where D&D is concerned.

When the Third Edition Ruleset came out, my group of friends began to get together to play. Two of the guys used to play all the time in high school, but for the rest of us, it was our first campaign. Andy was the Dungeon Master, and he made it a great experience for all of us. I wasn't able to make it for every session, and I missed out on some fun nights, from the sound of it.

One of those nights had a twist thrown into it. Andy had created a drinking game tailored specifically for us. He took each mannerisms unique to each person, and certain group interactions, and made up some cards with each one. Each person that night was required to pull one from the deck, which would be their secret drink trigger. I wasn't there to play, but I have heard tales of this night that had me in stitches, and still bring a smile to my face as I think of them. The greatest card, from my point of view, was the one based on me. It is called the Curse of the Cajun Surfer, and is based on my overuse of the term 'dude', which sounds more like 'dood' when I say it. I consider this the greatest, because even though I wasn't there to trigger it personally, everyone in the group had picked it up in the half-mocking way of close friends.

I don't remember who exactly pulled "The Curse," but they got hammered that night because it had become such a part of our everyday lexicon. One of the guys even wrote a song about it. It's hard to believe that all happened nearly ten years ago, because it is still so fresh in my mind as to have happened ten months ago. It has achieved near legendary status among us. As testament, to this day, when making a call to one of these friends, the first word spoken is not "Hello," but "Dood."

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