When We First Met (Finding "The One" in an Unlikely Place)
Growing up, I was always begging my grandparents and my own parents to tell me the story of how they had met. I'd lean my chin on my hands, absorbed in their tales and the expressions on their faces, imagining the scene...the moment when they had known beyond a shadow of a doubt that they had found "the one."
Two of my grandparents had met while working in a shoe factory...and if you think after fifty years of marriage they could agree on the exact details...you'd be very wrong. My grandfather would smile in memory at the moment, his eyes crinkling up at the corners as his finger pointed in the air to emphasize the most important parts, while my grandmother constantly talked over him, correcting every detail with a fond admonishment that always began with "Oh, Bill!" The result was endearing and humorous.
My parents met at a USO dance. With a sheepish grin, my father loves to tell me that he actually had brought a different girl to the dance...but when he saw my mother, he knew that she was the one. It was a good thing he knew...because my mother hadn't quite made up her mind yet. With a mischievous sparkle in her eye, my mother smiles whenever he reminds her about the infamous picture incident. Shortly after marrying my mother, my dad was sent to Yokohama, Japan. While staying in the barracks, his bunkmate decided to show my father a picture of his girl back home. Imagine my father's surprise when he recognized the woman in the picture and blurted out, "That's MY wife!"
Perhaps by my parents and grandparents standards, how I met my own husband would seem somewhat unconventional. But it still makes a good story...one that I have no problem sharing.
Dark Elf Women Are Hawt!
My toon was named Darkdoll...a blue-skinned, black-haired dark elf enchantress in the world of Everquest. Life was pretty good in my little fantasy world. I belonged to a prestigious guild, Illuminata, and had a regular group of friends with which to share adventures. In fact, I was rather spoiled rotten to be honest. For any real life women that play fantasy games online, you know what I mean. The male of the species, from age twelve to sixty, upon discovering that you are a REAL woman and not some adolescent male pretending to be one in order to capitalize on the feminine mystique, will adore you, protect you and give you lots of presents.
To say that I jealously guarded my position among my male friends, would be an understatement. I was rather possessive of my two closest allies: Torthak, my noble human paladin that would gallantly lay down his life to save mine and Dearrun, my teddy bear like dwarf cleric who worked his magic to keep everyone alive. Between the three of us, we had everything that was important covered...crowd control, brute force and a person that could bring us back to life in the event of failure.
Since a normal group was comprised of six people, we considered the remaining three our cannon fodder...interchangeable dependent upon our chosen adventure. It was like a scene from Star Trek...Spock, Bones and Captain Kirk beam down to the surface of the planet with Ensigns Smith, Jones and Johnson. We can safely assume that the three ensigns are expendable and might not survive to be in the next episode. Harsh...yes, but necessary. The funny part was we never lacked for volunteers to fill those three vacant positions. People knew that our trio had been playing together for so long that we could anticipate the moves of the other. When we failed, we could laugh at it. There was never any finger pointing or ill feelings...we were friends.
Your Average Hairy Footed Halfling
A Typical Dark Elf Male
With that in mind, it was an unspoken but mutual agreement that should we ever allow a player into our inner circle, they had to play well...but even more importantly, they had to fit seamlessly with their personality. Eventually we found a fourth...a rather sadistic and twisted gnome necromancer named Badjuju Poisoncookie. He was very good at his job...but even more importantly, he wasn't your typical narcissistic "I can do everything myself" type of necromancer. Nothing is more boring than being allowed to participate only in your own death when a necromancer decides that you should just sit back and watch him take care of the bad guy.
When we weren't off killing for loot, the four of us took turns helping each other out with epic quests. These were usually race or class specific, so it was sometimes difficult to tear people away from their own agendas and talk them into lending a hand with something that was only in your interest. This is where having friends became important.
Confident in our own abilities, the four of us decided to go alone on a quest for Dearrun. It was a lower level dungeon, definitely beneath our abilities...what could possibly stop us? When we got to the locked door and Dearrun realized he didn't have the key...we were temporarily stymied. Each of us took careful stock of our various abilities, sure we could overcome this temporary hurdle.
"I know!" Badjuju said excitedly, "DD...change yourself into a troll, stick your head through the wall and see if you can charm one of those bad guys into coming out one at a time! That should work."
"Ewww...I hate being a troll. They're so...ugly" I said making a face.
Reluctantly I got as close to the wall as I could, morphed into a troll and targeted what I thought to be the closest enemy. Unfortunately, rather than charming him...I pissed him off...along with about thirty of his friends who then came racing out of the door to kick our asses.
"Hmm," said Dearrun thoughtfully after resurrecting our corpses. "Perhaps I should have done the quest to get the key. But I really thought we could do it without it...the cheat notes said that it could be done."
"What we need..."said Badjuju, "is a rogue. Do we know any rogues?"
A rogue...that would be perfect we all agreed. Although not good for much normally, a rogue had the ability to pick locks and would get us into that door in no time. Unfortunately, we drew a blank when it came to rogues that we knew. Normally, we wouldn't even consider a rogue for our group unless we were sure we could play without one.
"DD..." Dearrun began with a placating smile, "could you work some of your charm and find us a rogue?"
I grumbled a bit...knowing full well that in the end I'd do it. To give in easily though would have been making it too easy for them and I wanted to remind them once again how fortunate they were to have me to do the dirty work. It was a well known fact in our group that when it came to filling groups, I had no compunction about using my feminine wiles to lure a hapless soul in. I wasn't an enchantress without good reason...
Quickly I keyed in the appropriate commands to see what our current choices were. There weren't many choices available...perhaps four. I wasn't surprised. Not many people were playing rogues these days...hard to get groups, as I mentioned previously. After ruling out a few lower levels, I was left with two choices. One was obviously in a raiding zone...so that left somebody named Horok.
"Okay...sending a request to one," I replied in my usual fashion, "please hold."
With a little forethought on how best to entice a halfling rogue, I quickly typed out, "So....are ya busy?" Blech...I thought, imagining the offensive little creature with hairy feet. Still, here I was consorting with a gnome and a dwarf...too late to get all righteous.
"Nope" was the reply I received. Hmm...talkative fellow. Probably wouldn't be fooled by a flirtatious manner...better to come across as competent...and maybe just tweak his nose a little.
"Okay...so I have an enchanter, a cleric, a necro and a pally...and we're trying to complete a lower level epic quest. Problem is we can't get around the locked door. If you are available, might I be able to talk you into using your rather questionable skills to unlock the door? You don't need to hang around after that if you don't want to...we're more than capable of taking it from there."
"Sure," the halfling replied, "I was bored anyway."
To our surprise, my fishing expedition had landed us a competent player. He wasn't very talkative, but that was okay. He did his job and then stayed to help us finish the remainder of it. Not once did he complain nor challenge us on a group decision...perhaps having a rogue around wasn't such a bad choice after all.
"So..." I said tentatively after our mission was accomplished, "we're heading over to a different zone to run an instance adventure...if you want to hang with us, you are more than welcome." Following my lead, Badjuju and Dearrun extended their own invitations for the rogue to remain with us. Only Torthak balked.
For some reason, Torthak decided that Horok was a threat. Until this particular adventure, he was used to being the gallant knight, attacking first and standing between the rest of the group and the nasty monster that wanted to spill our toonish blood. However, Horok had managed to upstage him several times and he was not used to having to share the spotlight. To his displeasure, Horok decided we were enjoyable company and chose to tag along with us.
Rather than be graceful, Torthak behaved rather boorishly during the entire adventure. Not only did he go out of his way to over-play his role, he made it a point to flirt outrageously with me as if he were courting me medieval style. Dearrun and Badjuju were sniggering as Torthak bowed before me and addressed me as m'lady over and over again. It had reached a truly gagworthy stage when he began blowing kisses and declaring his undying devotion. I finally messaged him to knock it off or just pee on me if he was concerned about having his position usurped.
Finally, I felt this compulsion to apologize to our guest, who only laughed at the entire situation. Horok was just having too much of a good time, dropping his previously taciturn demeanor and finding a rather comfortable spot within our tight little group. Three of us were only too happy to adopt him...the fourth was not.
Having played Everquest for a number of years, I knew the general make-up of the population. I found the young kids adorable and couldn't help my maternal instincts when dealing with them. As a result though, I was often followed around by star struck little puppies that were no more immune to the call of knightly chivalry than their older male brethren. My heart melted with a bad case of the warm fuzzies whenever a ten year old warrior wannabe shyly approached me and handed me a flower, or a ring...or in one young boy's case...countless mushrooms that he had foraged to help me with my baking skills. They all knew I was old enough to be their mother, but it never stopped them. And while my friends would snort disdainfully and ask me why I didn't just tell the little runt to scram, I never could. Sure, at times these little rugrats were talented stalkers and could make me feel a bit uncomfortable...like I was being set up for some pedophile raid, but I wasn't about to be the one to disillusion them and be the first woman that they would think of many years later who had callously broken their hearts.
Other than young boys, the vast majority of the players were twenty-something year old men. Dearrun, Badjuju and Torthak were all in their twenties. Not only did I have to contend with being in the minority as a true female, but also the fact that I was about fifteen years older than they were. I didn't usually mind and I did learn a lot about their interests...but there were times when I truly longed for somebody my own age that could relate to my history.
So when Horok started to hum the theme to Green Acres, my antennae quivered and I nearly gave myself a case of whiplash as I was forced to reassess him.
"Horok," I asked hopefully, "how old are you?"
"Older than dirt," was his reply.
An EQ Wedding
My husband and I often recall that day when we first met...and how like a rogue, he snuck into my life, unlocked the key to my heart and then promptly stole it. While we chose a more appropriate, romantic song later, I still consider the theme to Green Acres to be "our song."
Within the first year of our meeting, renouncing forever his rightful heritage as a halfling for the more handsome dark elf illusion, he got down on bended knee and asked for Darkdoll's hand in marriage. In real life, despairing of ever finding a moment that felt right enough, he finally threw himself on his knees in the garage as I was trying to get out of the car...
I said yes both times...and have never regretted that answer.