I feel like I should be writing about what it's like to be a Jew and a Humanist on Christmas--why do they get the lights, when ours is the Festival of Lights? Axial tilt is the reason for the season!--but I'm kind of stuck on this geek thing so that's what you're getting.
Today, at a Christmas party, we'll be giving Boo her first set of gaming dice. For my less geeky friends, those are the special dice one uses for playing D&D and other role playing games (RPGs.) For the random elements of the game, you need dice ranging from 4-sided (d4) to 20-sided (d20) and if you're gaming with friends, the dice tend to get mixed up, so it's helpful to have your own distinctive set so that you can sort them out again when the game is finished. Gamers get really attached to some of their dice. Hopper still has two of his original dice. They're worn down at the corners, but he proudly showed them to Boo the other day, because he's had them for 30 years. They're not in the bag with his favorite dice, but he's not going to throw them out, either.
But this moment won't be the same for Boo as it was for Hopper. Hopper discovered D&D on his own--he heard about it from friends, or saw the books somewhere, and decided to try it. He saved up his allowance to buy that first set of dice, because without them, he couldn't play. And he and his friends pored over the rule books--learning, discussing, debating--they figured out how to play together, because nobody they knew had done it before.
Boo rolled her first character using Hopper's dice. She'll be playing her first campaign with her parents, with her dad as the DM. She's a native.
I suppose there were native geeks when we were young--folks whose parents were so excited about a new Star Trek that they let their young children watch, or re-enactors who brought their sons to battles, or Creative Anachronists--but somehow this feels different.
I ran out of yesterday, so I'm finishing this on Christmas, just after watching Rise of the Guardians, which I thoroughly endorse and recommend.
We gave Boo the dice. She opened them, and said, "Dungeons and Dragons dice! Now I can roll them as much as I want and you won't yell at me!" "You're playing?" said my brother, "I might have a present for you..."
And the moment was gone...swept away in a blur of presents and children and Christmas.
But later on, in a moment of quiet, he appeared from upstairs, holding his first edition manuals and a couple of old modules. "You can borrow these for as long as you want," Brother said to Boo. "But when you're done with them, make sure you give them back to me, okay?"
"Do you understand," I asked, "You can keep them, but don't ever throw them out or give them away, okay? If you get tired of them, Uncle Brother wants them back."
Boo nodded, understanding the gravity of the situation.
I tried to engage Brother in a conversation about D&D then, but he couldn't do it. The details of the rules are blurry to him, for he has moved on from gaming.
Just make sure you don't throw away his manuals.