So, last Thursday, I got a call from a friend of mine. His car had broken down on the way to my house to pick up some papers he needed for a church assignment. He didn’t need a lift—his brother was already on his way to pick my friend up. However, my friend wanted me to come meet him and drop off the papers.
“I’m afraid that I can’t get away,” I told him. “There’s a gathering at my house, and I’m kind of needed here.”
Everything worked out fine. I dropped off the papers the next day; Rich got his truck fixed. More importantly, however, I never had to explain what kind of ‘gathering’ I was at. Bullet dodged. Disaster averted.
Nobody found out I was playing Dungeons and Dragons.
Now, I can confess this here, because many of you here have probably been in the same situation as myself. We geeks, especially we adult geeks, get pretty proficient at hiding our D&D activities from outsiders. During sessions with my particular gaming group, we usually get to listen in on at least one cell-phone call an evening.
“Hum? Oh, I’m just hanging out with some friends.”
“Can I call you back in fifteen minutes? I’m . . . busy right now.”
“I’m just doing something with my roommates.”
“We’re playing some games. I’ll call you back.”
“I can’t talk right now. My half-dragon troll just got hit with the undead beholder’s Inflict Moderate Wounds spell, and I have to make a will save.”
Actually, I’ve never heard that last one.
It’s become something of a running joke in our group that we’ll do anything to keep outsiders from finding out about our little addiction. The sound of the doorbell during gaming will prompt yells of “Hide the books!” We’re quite proud of our shame at playing our silly little game, and tout our proficiency at avoiding the topic of how we spend our Thursday nights. Our greatest conquest? The fact that we’ve indoctrinated our newest player—a real-life girl—so fully that she now instinctively obscures the truth about her gaming activities. She’s not quite sure why she should be worried if people find out she plays D&D, but she’s caught on well enough that she keeps the secret just like the rest of us.
We may joke, but humor usually has some root in reality. I’m not sure what it is about us that makes us so paranoid. It’s almost like we’d rather be caught with porn than with D&D manuals. A part of me feels guilty for my guilt—while I’m not as big a gamer as some, I do enjoy the activity. Why should I feel shameful for it?
Undoubtedly, I’m letting the world’s opinions taint my own enjoyment—I’m letting The Man decide what is and is not a ‘cool’ way for me to spend my free time. However, as long as The Man is more likely to get a girlfriend than your average ‘outed’ gamer, I suspect we all will continue live our dual lives.
So . . . uh . . . if anyone asks, I’m not in there. I didn’t write this column. I don’t even know who what a troll is.