For the longest time I failed to grasp the allure of darkness. My beloved would be gone during those hours of emptiness I used to repair my body and mind. His absence added to my personal anxieties and I wondered what it was about this sphere that immersed him so. Did he have a better lover? What was I so lacking that he needed to escape for hours on end, engaging in a strange form of play that I refused to entertain? My mind widened with terrifying possibilities, and after much self-induced trauma, I finally decided to sit in on a gaming session.
A group of boys, reveling in the energies of youthful testosterone, gathered under the porch light of a seething Pittsburgh dusk. They all looked so strange, and so happy. What am I missing here? I embarrassingly made introductory rounds, and crept down into myself. I stayed in this state for most of the night, only opening a little as we returned to the real world for cigarettes and booze. What are these number systems that have no basis in logic, and who cares? Why all the excitement for things that don’t exist? It struck me as odd for so many to choose to engage with others under this Elysian veil. Why not talk about something that helps us understand the human condition? Why not talk about art, or politics, or commerce, or music, or memories, or any number of things that have a resonance in reality?
When I finally allowed myself to think about the appeal of role-playing games I realized the root of my anxieties. Mike took something from these sessions that I didn’t readily provide: a freedom from reality. I was envious of the bliss this escapist ritual infused him with and was unhappy. What is so tedious about the games we play with reality that would move him to seek another system? I often played fantastic games in my own mind, but these games were private. Who wants to degrade these sacred events by sharing them with other people?
I didn’t truly understand this phenomenon until I played in a Black Crusade game with Mike as dungeon master. The storyline was interesting and exciting, so much so that I continue to engage with it to this day. The imaginary world was rich with aesthetic appeal and sensory stimulation. It was cooler than ‘Fooly Cooly’ (FLCL) or a Francis Bacon painting. It finally felt natural to participate in this mental exercise with other people who weren’t me. The strange probabilities in my mind were only improved as they melded with the equally peculiar wishes of my companions. This mode of storytelling was attractive because it was inclusive, and so very far from the boring and juvenile thoughts I had previously held about role-playing games. Finally, a way to inject a facet of reality with the fantasies in my mind!
Whenever Mike goes meandering into the heart of the night I am no longer concerned. I know he only wants to tell as many stories as he can while he can. I even help him out along the way when it feels right.
Submitted by Mike’s lovely fiancee, Stephanie Connors.
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