In an effort to force myself out of this non-creative, unmotivated funk I've been in post-Eureka, I now commence a braindump from this weekend:
I pressed the plunger down on my coffee press and tried to clear the sleep from my eyes while Anne put the orange juice back into the fridge. The morning sun shone brightly through the kitchen window … a little too brightly for me.
While I poured my coffee into one of my many nerd mugs, I asked Anne, "will you come with me to the comic shop today?"
"Don't you usually go on Wednesdays?"
I lifted my mug, and looked at her through the rising steam. "Wow, you noticed that. Okay. Yeah, I usually go on Wednesdays, but today it's Free Comic Book Day. Will you be my date?"
"Sure," she said, "if you'll be my date to Home Depot."
Anne loves home improvement. She's mechanically-inclined, and can build, remodel, and fix just about anything around our house. Home Depot is her comic book shop, game shop, and used record store all wrapped up together. I, on the other hand, break everything I touch, make a terrible mess of things when I try to paint, and don't really do home improvements as much as I cuss a lot while failing in every attempt at masonry.
"Sounds like a fair trade to me," I said, "what are we getting at home depot? Is it free scrap lumber day?"
"I want to look at flooring countertop samples," she said. Our water heater recently — well, it didn't blow up, exactly, but it leaked like crazy as it slowly died for about two weeks, and we didn't realize what was going on until the water it put beneath our kitchen floor began to reveal itself in creative ways that aren't as bad as they sound, but potentially very expensive to repair.
Oh, and speaking of repair, here's how insurance is supposed to work: You pay your premiums on time, and when you need to make a claim, the insurance company does what you've been paying them to do for a decade.
Here's how insurance actually works: You pay your premiums on time, and when you need to make a claim, the insurance company finds a dozen different reasons to deny your claim, and then tells you that if you actually want to file the claim anyway, they're going to charge you an addition $1000 over the next three years.
Dear insurance industry: Die in a fire, you motherfuckers.
Dear insurance industry "regulators" who let this shit happen: You can also die in a fire, you worthless, corrupt shitbags.
Um. Sorry. As you can tell, I'm a little unhappy with my insurance company (and will soon be shopping for a new one.)
So we have to replace our floor, which is currently – wait for it – ancient linoleum that's 40% asbestos. Yay. Making this already-long story shorter: we're putting some kind of wood floor over the linoleum, and Home Depot has a lot of samples we can check out.
So we drove over to my comic shop, ate lunch next door at Zankou (falafel wrap with extra garlic paste FTW), and headed inside. The place was packed, and the line went all the way through the whole store, which was unexpected. I introduced Anne to George and Sean, the owner and manager, respectively, and asked about the huge line.
"It's buy one get one free on everything," George said. I nearly fainted. I made big plans to get a giant pile of books and trades and archival editions … then I looked at the line
"I'm not going to make you stand in this line," I said to Anne.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. I know this isn't your scene, and this line is at least 40 minutes long. I think you'd OG if we stood in it."
I look a relief briefly flashed across her face. I knew she would have waited with me without complaint, but asking her to sit in a line of serious geeks with me while we all got our geek on just seemed unreasonable to me.
I collected all the Free Comic Book Day offerings, put them into my Bag of Holding, and promised the guys I'd be back on Wednesday. I'm not going to lie, Marge: I felt a little sad to be leaving without a complete collection of Freakangels trades, but I also didn't want to over-expose my geek-adjacent wife to a geek reactor that didn't have a lot of control rods.
We drove down Colorado toward Home Depot in Monrovia (the 210 was fucked, as it has been 24/7 since it was connected to the 15) which took us right past my game shop.
"That's my game shop," I said.
"Oh, we should go there and get Wits and Wagers," she said. "That game was really fun."
"Wait. You're seriously saying that you want to go to the game shop with me?"
"Yeah. I think we need to maximize our geek today."
Our geek? Our geek? I couldn't even think clearly enough to respond.
In reality, I carefully pulled into the left turn lane, waited until it was safe, and carefully made a U-Turn. In my mind, I pulled a fucking awesome bootlegger reverse, just like in Car Wars. We walked in, talked to a lot of my friends who were gathered for this epic D&D multi-table battle thing, and about 30 super-geeky minutes later walked out with Wits and Wagers, and Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age.
I've recently noticed that, after almost 14 years together, Anne has absorbed some of my geekiness, within limits. She'll watch Firefly, but I can't get her through Blade Runner. She'll listen to me go on and on about Batman and Green Lantern, but she's not really interested in actually reading a comic book. It's all good balance, because it allows me to share these things I love with the woman I love maintaining our own individual interests …. but I've noticed in the last year that Anne is starting to enjoy games and gaming. I'm not entirely positive, and it could probably be its own column if I really wanted to think about it, but I'm beginning to wonder if gaming might be a really easy and subtle geek infection vector for the non-geeks in our lives.
I put my games into my Bag of Holding, moving it closer to the +2 Geek bonus I understand it gives when properly stocked, and drove out to Home Depot, where we had more fun than I would have expected looking at samples for formica countertops and all kinds of flooring. I'm not revealing exactly how we're going to redo the kitchen, but I think we found a way to keep it affordable (no fucking thanks to our asshole insurance company that won't help at all with the floors) while making it awesome. Eventually, at some point in the mysterious future, there will be pictures.
When we got home, we made dinner, had a quiet evening together and went to sleep early, because we hiked up the Sam Merril Trail to the old White City on Sunday. It was a beautiful hike, but we haven't done it in at least three years. When we reached the hotel ruins and sat down for lunch, I told Anne, "I'm glad we did this, but it seemed longer and more strenuous than I remembered."
Without missing a beat she patted my knee and said, "that's because we're not in the shape we used to be in, and we're getting old, honey."
She was right. Nolan always teases me about hurting my Old when we pl
ay Frisbee, but holy crap does my Old hurt today. My hips, calves, and knees are just killing me.
Of course, I have to turn everything into a game, so I've decided that the hike was two levels above my current ability, and the proper (and only) response to the pain I feel today is to grind it out at the gym until I can not only get to the White City without taking so much damage, but continue on to Inspiration Point, as well.
This actually made me think of something: has anyone done a fitness guide for gamers? Something that makes exercise and healthy eating into a game, with levels and achievements and stuff? I'd love to read and use something like that. We'd call it the d20 diet or something clever.