Your Turn

A long time from now, in an assisted living facility not so far away, four old women sit around a card table.

“Jessica, it’s your turn.”

Jessica didn’t respond.  She stared at her hands instead. Gray hair never bothered her, nor did the wrinkles in her face, but her hands looked old.


Drea was getting upset. Jessica shuffled through the cards in her hands.  Normally she kept her hands hidden, the large puffy veins and prominent  bones embarrassed her.  This game makes no sense.  Why are we playing it, she thought to herself.

“What am I supposed to do, again?” Jessica asked.

Drea snorted loudly, and grabbed the cards out of Jessica’s hands. Jessica dropped her hands into her lap, below the table.

Drea hardly knew how to play herself, though, and the other two women were no help.  Jessica couldn’t remember their names. She blamed the lack of memory on her age, but the truth was she’d never been good with names.  The younger looking of the two picked up the tattered copy of “Bridge For Dummies” and unhelpfully read the same passage she read a minute ago.

“In bridge, four people each place a card face up on the table, and the highest card in the suit that has been led takes the trick.”

The other woman interrupts, again, and says, again, “That’s called the trump, right?”

They argue while Drea hands Jessica back her cards and says, “Just play this one,” pointing to the Queen of Hearts.

Jessica puts the card down while singing,

“Playing with the queen of hearts,
knowing it ain’t really smart
The joker ain’t the only fool
who’ll do anything for you”

The other women, even Drea, start laughing.

“O-M-G!” the youngest one says, spelling out the letters, “That song was already an oldie when I was a child!”

“I think it was from the seventies, the nineteen seventies I mean.”  Jessica said. When the last two digits in the years started to repeat, one had to be more explicit when naming dates. “I remember my mom singing along with it on the radio.”

“So, you can remember the lyrics to a song almost a century old, but you can’t remember how to play a simple card game?” Drea said.

“There is nothing simple about bridge, and I’ve never played it before in my life, and neither have you.”

Drea snorted again but didn’t argue, adding, “I was more a fan of Magic the Gathering, back in the day.”

The younger looking woman, Heather maybe? said, “Oh! My brothers played that game all the time! They had stacks and stacks of those beautiful cards. I loved looking at them.” she sighed then looked to her friend, “Susan, didn’t you play that game, starts with a D or something?”

Susan smiled shyly, “Yes, Dungeons and Dragons. I was the only girl in my school who played.  Wow, what memories I have of those days! But that wasn’t a card game, it was more of a dice game.”

Jessica felt a rush of excitement, “Do you remember any of it, could we play it now?”

Drea grinned, “Did any of you ever play World of Warcraft or Ever Quest?”

Susan and Jessica exclaimed at once, “WoW!”  Then turned to look at each other, eyes shining.

Heather shook her head, “What a bunch of geeks you all are!”

Drea scooped the cards into a pile.  “Well then, I believe I know what game we are playing next.”  She waved the robot attendant over and asked it to bring out four laptops.

Jessica frowned, “Drea, those games aren’t around anymore.  All the games now are full VR immersive, like we use for our exercise classes.”

“AH ha! You are wrong about that!  Happens that I am a member of a guild in a old MMORPG called Star Wars, The Old Republic.  A bunch of the old coders brought the game back a few years ago.  My,” she paused and swallowed, “My brother worked at the company that made the game.  Just before he died, they got it working again.”

Jessica saw the tears in her friend’s eyes, but knew better than to acknowledge them.

“But I never played any of those games,” Heather said, “I can’t…”

Old and newJessica leaned over and took her hand, “Don’t worry.” Heather’s hand felt light and brittle in Jessica’s stronger grip, but didn’t look as old.  Jessica wondered if all those years playing WoW in her thirties and forties made her hands look so old. Right hand on the mouse, left on the keyboard, taping and clicking for hours and days and even weeks when she could get away with it.  If so, then she should hold up her hands with pride. They were gamer hands.

“I’ll help you. You won’t believe how much fun it is.”

The Original Hipster

Once upon a time, I was in the seventh grade. (Yes, it was long enough ago that I can say ‘once upon a time.’) Anyway, I was about 13 or so and had just discovered that I would never be cool. This discovery happened at the first boy/girl party I went to. (The kid’s mother said he couldn’t have the party if he didn’t invite the whole class, poor kid.)

Jack & Diane
Jack & Diane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a moment where we were all standing in the living room, awkwardly holding our plastic cups of Coke, (or in my case, 7-Up,) and wondering what you did at a party when there wasn’t a clown making balloon animals or a birthday cake involved, when the song “Jack and Diane” came on the radio. All the girls squealed, “this is my favorite!” and started singing along.

I’d never heard of it.

When I was home, I played Legos or Atari with my brothers. I didn’t sit around listening to the radio or talking on the phone with the people I had just spent eight hours with at school.

My reaction to this self-realization was:
1) to do everything as opposite to cool as I could manage, AND
2) to not talk to anyone.

Can you see the problem with the combination of those two ideas? I did not realize that by not speaking to anyone, no one would actually notice how ironically un-cool I was being. I invented ‘hipster’ back in the 1980s, but no one noticed.

I have many regrets about decisions I’ve made in my life, but the decision to disassociate myself from my classmates was a doozy. Because, after that moment at the party, I knew what ‘cool’ looked like, and I started seeing it everywhere. And I liked a lot of it. Pop music for instance. I was a little late to the world of 80s pop, but I quickly caught up, and I loved it. In secret. (still do.)

I was so convinced of my ‘uncoolness,’ and afraid to expose myself to the derision of my classmates, that I refused to participate.

With my hypersensitivity to ‘cool’ vs. ‘uncool,’ I also did not allow myself to talk to the two boys in the class who played D&D. (Dungeons and Dragons, the original roll playing game that spawned my favorite game, World of Warcraft.) I just want to go back in time and slap myself in the face over that one. I would have LOVED to play that game with them. (They were also the smartest kids in the class and my grades might have benefited from the association as well.)

But no, I wouldn’t talk to them, afraid to make myself even more uncool than I already was.

Jump ahead twenty-five years to my Grammar School reunion. It wasn’t just a reunion for my class, the school was small, and catholic, so everyone had siblings. You can’t have a reunion for one year without everyone’s brothers and sisters wanting to tag along.

I didn’t get an invite. My two sisters did. I went anyway.

No one remembered me.

Ok. That’s an exaggeration. Eventually they remembered. But all they could say about me was how I never talked.

After the reunion, I friended a few of them on facebook, and they seem like interesting, fun people. They occasionally reminisce with each other on facebook about things that happened back when, and I wonder, where was I?

I know, I was hiding behind a book, thinking, no one likes me, but that’s fine because I don’t like them either. It never occurred to me that the reason they ignored me was because I’d made myself invisible.

This is just a silly rant…

SWTOR Bounty Hunter (IMG_3681)
SWTOR Bounty Hunter  (Photo credit: chaines106)

I really, really wish there was someone out there in the world who liked to play MMORPGs* the way I want to play them:

1) Quests only: no dungeons or raids, I just want to follow a character through the story-line of the game.

2) No PvP*: I don’t want to fight real people – I want to fight NPCs*.  I don’t understand the appeal of fighting other players.

3) No crafting: feels too much like work.

4) Gear:  I really don’t care what kind of gear my character has. As long as it is the right level for my character – that is good enough for me.  And as an addition to this, I don’t care about buying or selling gear in the markets – too much work.

The thing is – I really like to play with other people, But the key word there is PLAY. It is a game, it is supposed to be fun.  When your game becomes an obsession and when you get angry at people who don’t take it seriously, then it is no longer fun.

I don’t want to just randomly hook up with strangers either – I want to already know who I am going to play with and more importantly – I want them to know me and my playing style and be cool with my giggling when the monster starts attacking and I start yelling, “run away, run away!”

I have yet to meet a single person in real life or inside the games who wants to play the way I do, and so that means I don’t really play anymore.  It is boring to play by myself.

And that is the end of this silly rant.

Where I am:
SWTOR –  Shadowlands – main: Jilanna – Sith Assassin, alt: Vaunna, – Smuggler Gunslinger
WoW –  I’m sort of all over the place – been playing since 08′, never got a char past level 60 – I just get bored and start new ones

*Glossary for the non-gamer:

MMORPG – Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game – basically Dungeons and Dragons on the computer with strangers from all over the planet.

PvP – Player vs. Player (real people)

NPC – Non-Player Characters (not real people)

SWTOR – an MMORPG called Star Wars, The Old Republic

WoW – an MMORPG called World of Warcraft 

At what age did you feel grown up?

Growing up and liking it!
Growing up and NOT liking it! (Photo credit: amy_b)

On the occasion of my seventh birthday I told my mother that I’d had enough birthdays. Seven was a very good age, I was happy with it, and I would stay there. (Just as an amusing side note – my youngest sister thought that the age of seven was rather magical as well, but she believed that seven was the age she would turn into a boy, like her two older brothers. At thirteen she’d go back to being a girl like her sisters.)

When I turned twenty, the ubiquitous wave of teenage depression threatened to engulf me. I felt very, very old and I just wanted to die and get it over with, with all the ‘woe is me’ only a twenty year old can feel. Obviously I survived, and got on with the business of growing up.  Or so I thought.

While I won’t reveal my current age, I am old enough that the randomly generated writing prompt featured in the title struck me quite hard.

Grown up? Oh no! Shouldn’t I feel grown up by now?

The teen-aged child of my cousin, on learning that I was near in age to his mother said, “But how can you be that old? You play video games and you know about the stuff I like, you’re not like a grown up at all.”

My answer to his compliment was, “Maybe because I don’t have children – I never stopped being a child.” (Yes, I took it as a compliment, because he meant it that way. I loved and admired the adults that I thought were ‘cool’ when I was a kid, who found my interests interesting, and now I am one of them. How awesome is that?)

I know other ‘adults,’ and I use that word lightly, who are like me. We the child-less, and often spouse-less, fill our free time with various pursuits. I read. I play video games. I create stories and bad Photoshop art and post my creations all over the web. A dear friend works on her two-hundred year old house, crochets funny hats and plays ukulele. My boyfriend devours web-comics and draws. We don’t have a lot of money, or retirement plans, or stock portfolios, things that I associate with being a grown up.

I find myself saying, “Someday when I have money, I’m going to do/have [fill in the blank].” But that someday never becomes today. Maybe if I put away my toys and found a ‘career’ instead of enjoying my ‘job’ I would finally make all that money that is out there in my grown-up future.

But not now. Right now I am going to level up my gnome rogue in WoW, and then I might work on the next chapter of my serial novel experiment.

Growing up can wait a while longer.