A pair of twenty-something Bros, dressed and posed in a manner that was such a hilarious cliche, if I described them exactly as I saw them, my editor would have said, "no, that's too cliche," stood near the front of the store, communicating in some kind of Broglish that leaned heavily on the word "fuck" and its many derivatives.
I guess I'm Old Man Wheaton, because I looked around at all the 7 and 8 year-olds in the store and felt mildly offended that these two Bros couldn't be bothered to make an effort to tone it down just a little bit.
But such is the way of The Bro. If they had common sense and a WIS stat higher than d6+2, they probably wouldn't be Bros.
I walked around them, went to the DS games, and felt like a teenager buying his first box of condoms. I felt my face get warm, I caught myself looking around to ensure I wasn't being watched, and I reached for the nearest copy of Pokémon Black Version.
I turned it over in my hand and read the back. "I can't believe I'm actually going to do this," I thought. "I'm 38 years-old, and I'm buying Pokémon for the first time in my life."
The Bros left the store, trailing expletives behind them. Something was, apparently, a lot of fucking bullshit. The precious children I was so concerned about moments earlier didn't seem to notice. Maybe they play a lot of Call of Duty online. Or maybe I'm just an a dad nearing forty.
I nervously drummed my fingers on the game as I replayed the conversation I had with my friend Jerry about two months ago, where he assured me that Pokémon on the DS is a fun RPG that starts anew with each release, and is incredibly fun when you play it with your friends. The last game Jerry recommended to me, Might and Magic Clash of Heroes remains one of the greatest games I've ever played on the DS, so I trust him.
I trust him enough to find myself standing in GameStop*, feeling like I was renting porn, and wanting to ensure that I was getting Big Wet Asses 4, instead of Wet Big Asses 4. I approached the counter.
"Can I help you with anything?" The guy asked me.
"Yes, but you have to promise that you're not going to make fun of me."
The other guy smirked, and the first guy told me that he would not make fun of me.
"Okay," I exhaled and realized that my shoulders were tense. I relaxed them. "Do you have … Pokémon White Version?"
He sort of chuckled. The other guy failed to cover a laugh.
"Hey!" I said, "I can see you judging me!" I said to the other guy.
"No, man. I just thought that was funny. We both play Pokémon," The other guy said.
"Yeah, it's nothing to be embarrassed about; it's a really fun RPG," The first guy said.
"That's what my friend told me," I said, "so here I am at 38 years-old finally buying Pokémon for the first time.
"I am given to understand that they are essentially the same. Is that right?"
The other guy said that I had been correctly informed, and added that it pretty much depended on what box I liked better.
"Well, this thing kind of looks like … a dragon? I guess? Yeah, a dragon … and dragon's are cool, so…"
The first guy typed a few things on his computer. "We have White version, but we only have it used."
"I actually prefer to buy games new, to support the developer and stuff," I said, feeling a little self-conscious, like I had just extolled the virtues of fidelity while standing in a whorehouse, or giving a shit about the middle class while visiting Congress.
"No worries," he said.
"Okay, so I guess I'll take this, and Super Scribblenauts."
He rang me up.
"Hey, I … really like the work you do on Big Bang Theory," he said.
I know this sounds weird, but I often forget that when I'm interacting with strangers, there's a non-zero chance that they know my name and have seen me act. It used to make me feel like I had an arm growing out of my head when it happened, but I've gotten over that, and now it actually makes me happy, because I'm proud of what I do.
"Oh, thanks, man! I like being on Big Bang Theory," I said.
"Did you want a bag for these?" He asked.
"No, I'm good," I said, "I'll carry them out in the open so the whole world can know my shame. Thanks for your help."
I walked out of the store, past another employee who was explaining the differences between a couple of FPS games to a guy who was about my age, and seemed as uncertain about his purchase decision as I was about mine, but not nearly as self-conscious.
*I get it; some of you hate GameStop. That's cool, and you're certainly entitled to your opinion, but I don't need a list of reasons why it sucks, delivered in Broglish. Twitter already accomplished that for me earlier today, thanks.