Saturday, May 1, 2010

I've been trying not to post while under the influence of exhaustion, but my life lends itself to being exhausted.

Spent the evening with some new (sorta) friends.

It was an odd experience.

It let me see how much I've changed.

I met the coordinator of the group when I was about 17 or 18, when my hobbies were of a significantly nerdier bent. He was my unplanned dance partner for the occasional folk dancing class. We danced really well together, perfectly in sync, no matter what style of dance we were doing. Our favorite was a Russian number that I cannot hope to spell that would increase in tempo until you were near running through the steps. Another, more western European, possibly British, country dance involved switching out partners, snaking your way into the form. Essentially, dance cock-blocking others.

I stopped going to the classes when I was around 19, when I met one of my LTRs.

So there's your backstory.

When I was down in San Diego earlier this month, I ran into my old dance partner at a party. We talked a little bit and, surprise, his girlfriend lives less than two miles away from me up in LA. He invited me out to their occasional board gaming get togethers.

No, I'm not talking Shoots and Ladders or Checkers. This is more along the veins of strategy games. RISK. Advanced Civ (my personal favorite, though that takes somewhere between six to twelve hours to run through so most people won't play). Various brightly colored, cheap'n'easy games like Puerto Rico, Carcassone, Dos Rios, La Citta. You can get through those anywhere between thirty minutes to two hours.

I... don't play boardgames anymore. I used to. I enjoy them, I like the strategy building, the planning ahead, trying to read your players, watching people interact.

Part of the reason is time.
Another part of the reason is finding people to play with.
And a major problem with the above, which makes it so difficult, is finding sane people to play with. And by "sane", I mean intelligent guys that will put up a challenge but aren't so socially awkward I feel like I'm being masturbated about under the table OR won't just drive me absolutely batshit with whatever gamer quirks they have.

And there are a lot of quirks. I had NO idea.

Ah, blissful ignorance, I miss thee.

So this guy says he's got a couple of people that he plays with and I like his girlfriend (though she's a little... oh, we'll say, totally nuts), and so I agree to come over to her place one night and play games with them. Boardgames, you goddamn pervs.

She actually ended up living in an apartment that was next to one I had been attempting to look at when I was apartment-hunting, but the property manager was so incredibly incompetent at returning calls on time and arranging to let me into the building I wrote it off.

Her apartment is... well, built around the same time period as mine. Would be cute, if the windows weren't so tiny. I can't deal with tiny windows, I love how mine just line the walls of my apartment. College student apartment, messy, books and papers everywhere, no decoration. I couldn't imagine living there.

Met the friends that were joining us for the evening. More college students, save for my old dance partner. Mildly awkward nerds, but sweet.

The dynamic was... odd. Very odd.

Two couples. We've got my old dancing partner who is probably 28 or so and his girlfriend, who is 20. She's a college student studying marine biology, doesn't work, just does the school. He, as I found later in the evening, has let his body kinda go to pot. Pointy little man-boobs, wide, sagging belly. It's not really at the "paunch" point, but it's taken his trim waist and, well, you know. No bueno. She's short. Short like 4'10" short. Curvy, but her ratio is slightly off. I think it's her shoulders, I'm not sure. Frizzy dirty blonde hair. Glasses. She'd have a good body, but she's carrying a good ten or fifteen extra pounds on her, and at her height, that isn't a small sum.

Other couple, also college students. The male was blond, wide, round face. Odd haircut, falling into his eyes every so often. Small mouth with not quite perfect teeth, enough to be noticeable, but not enough to have you recoiling in horror at the sight of Lawnmower Man 3. Maybe 6'. His girlfriend... I think she was somewhere in the realm of Vietnamese/Filipino/Korean. Excessively wide face, decent body. Friendly, but socially awkward in some situations.

I could not get over the interactions within each of the couples.

Playing the games with them, with both their boyfriends telling them what to do. Telling them how to play, when they were making a wrong decision, when they missed something. Especially the Asian girl/Blond boy combo. She is never going to learn how to be good at any game as long as her boyfriend is telling her what to do instead of teaching her how to view the game, how to handle situations.

And my dancing partner was no better with his girlfriend.

While I was learning new games, trying to wrap my brain around them in ways that make sense to me, there was constant input. A little too much input, and in ways that did not make sense to my brain.

Finally I grabbed the rule book for one of them, started reading it while we were playing. I wasn't sure what was going on, and the way that it was being explained was not working for me.

About half-way into the game, I was able to get enough of a grasp of the thing to bring it around.

But before that, the two guys kept leaning over, telling me what to play, even as I was making my own moves.

Looked up at the dancing partner, said, "I've got this. If you keep telling me what to do, I'm never going to learn how to play."

I had to say it once more after that before he let me fly free.

Give me just a few more times with that game, and I'll be able to beat both of them regularly.

Watching the sexual interactions between the couples. Touching, kissing, the casual "I love you"s. Total naivety. When asked about a particular situation, I mentioned that, when I was 18 or so, a guy tried to get me to sleep with him (or at least go down on him) because he couldn't have sex with his girlfriend because she had cysts in her vaginal canal due to some disorder. First off, I told him no. Even then, I didn't poach. Secondly, as I told my gaming friends, that's what anal is for.

They wigged a little.

The "ew!" and the "oh my god!" and the "gross!" and the squirming... even the guys. I was completely blown away by their reactions. Well, not the girls so much. I kinda expect that in college girls. But the guys? Really??

When we went to leave, the blond and Asian asked me where I had parked, offered to walk me the half-block to my car. The blond told me he heard that there had been three drive-bys in the area recently, and that one of his friends refused to come to this area at all. I thought he was joking. It's not the best neighborhood, but it's nowhere near drive-by material. His girlfriend piped up that he was a master at Aikido, so he could protect the two of us from anyone that might attack us.

This is when I stare.

Well, not physically. That'd be rude.

But, mentally, I'm just staring. Staring at her, staring at him.

I can't imagine being that young. I can't imagine being that inexperienced. They're probably four years younger than I am, and our lives are so far off from one another. I used to be like them, in a way. Used to be that awkward, that tentative about sexuality, about social interaction. It feels like so long ago.

Watching them as we played, those movements and touches that speak of hesitation and territories not yet explored, or not explored thoroughly enough so one might call them their own.

Watching their lives play out. Possibilities of their lives. The weight-gain, the poor aging, the shitty diet, the vaguely cocky behavior put on by a need to show that he's more than he is. Her psychosis, whatever its source, that is going to be passed onto her children. Wondering if she'll ever mellow out. Wondering if they'll cocoon together like so many couples do much too early on.

Drove home.

Got to my beautiful little apartment. My bachelorette pad. Changed into my pajamas and climbed into bed. Living on my own. Living without that male companionship that I love so much. Going out so often, so many friends, so much to do all the time that I wipe myself out.

Wonder if that sort of life, their sort of life, was ever in the cards.

Or if this was the way it was meant to be.


  1. Hmmmm....I can't say that I would ever give up an entire evening to have the experience you just shared. Maybe because it doesn't sound like you were evenly matched in intellect. I love to play them, but I have a hard time finding anyone with the intelect and or desire to do so.
    I have about a dozen or so board games and used to play them with my family as a child and then again with my children growing up. When ever I have been in a realtionship, my significant other would always suggest that I discard the games as"I will never play them again."

    I keep the games due to sentimental value and for the hope that someday I may find someone that enjoys playing them. I have kept a few things of my childrens to give to them as family keepsakes in the future.

    I have played board type games on line which can be fun but lately the only thing I have time for is facebook games. I do enjoy having conversation while playing and being social with others. Unfortunately people my age don't seem to be interested in socializing or even getting together for an evening at all.

    I guess the whole thing is about age. The older I get the less energy I seem to have for more than the basics, and I would socialize if it didn't take so much energy to even get people together. It feels forced if the people dont seem like they really want to do it. I'm beginning to wonder if it is the area where I live. It would be fun to meet you on line and play a game. I like scrabble, cribbage, spades, or I'm up for a new challenge...You have an interesting mind, and that makes it seem fun. Thanks, for the post, Sweet

  2. I've always felt older than people. It's only now, in my 40s, that I feel like I've caught up with myself. People like that can't step back and see themselves at all. Complete lack of self-awareness.

  3. SweetMag,

    I would be offended if any man I dated told me to throw out my boardgames. Well, if I had any at the moment. I'm going to inherit my mother's collection, and I'm planning on keeping them, teaching them to my children as you did with yours. My mother and I have spent so many hours with each other and various friends and family playing boardgames all my life. Late nights laughing and teasing each other. I'm going to miss it so much when that stops.

    Find me a Scrabble site that won't fill me with viruses and you've got a playing partner. :)


    I wonder if/when I'll catch up. Some adults I feel older than, at least mentally, if not financially.