Exactly

multi-sided diceIt’s hard to be a teenager – everyone knows that. It’s even harder when your parents are embarrassing. And as every parent of teenagers knows, sometimes we embarrass them just by being ourselves.

My kids are all grown up now, but I remember back when we had several teenagers at home. They tended to be conspicuous by their absence on Saturday nights, which, coincidentally, happened to be our (my husband’s and my) gaming night. Friends, chili, and games – sometimes board or card games, but usually tabletop RPG’s, like Dungeons and Dragons, or some related game.

Yes, we are geeks. Nerds. Happily so. We read comics, science fiction and fantasy, play games, like science fiction and fantasy movies – well, you get it. Pretty cool, right? And our friends like the same things we do. Somehow, though, since it was their parents who were doing these things, our kids weren’t so thrilled, and our Saturday night antics were kept a deep, dark secret except to a few of their trusted friends.

I decided to write a few stories from the viewpoint of teens whose parents are *ahem* loosely based on us. Names have been changed to protect the innocent – or the potentially embarrassed, even if they are all grown up now.

Oh, and thanks Aar, er, “Jake,” for the brainstorming session. Like I said, Names Have Been Changed….

*******

“Hey, are these yours? You play Magic?” Jake’s friend regarded the kitchen table with multiple stacks of cards from a collectable card game. “Boy, that’s quite a collection!” He moved closer to get a better look.

“Not exactly,” Jake mumbled. He grabbed Tim’s arm and pulled him away, wincing as a burst of laughter came from the dining room.

“Oh, your brother’s?”

“Not exactly.”

Tim looked puzzled, but moved away from the table.

The noise in the other room died down enough for them to hear, “Critical fumble! Roll a d8 for damage!” “D8!? It was my dagger, not a sword!” and a groan from someone as something skittered noisily across the wood of the table.

“Your sister? They don’t usually play Magic or D&D, but hey, that’s cool.” Tim nodded.

Jake’s sister, who had just come from the direction of the noisy dining room, pushed past both of them on the way to the door. She looked at Jake and they shared a glance. “Not exactly,” she said to Tim.

Then a middle-aged man wearing a Batman t-shirt came into the kitchen.

“Hey, I made chili, and there’s plenty, Jake, so you and your friend help yourselves!”

A middle aged woman wearing a Hogwarts t-shirt that said, “You say nerdy like it’s a bad thing,” slid past him, smiled a welcome and indicated the bowls on the counter. “Like your dad said, help yourselves.” Then she grabbed a can from the refrigerator, calling out, “Hey, anyone else want a soda?”

Tim turned to Jake, his eyes big. “Your parents?!”

Jake sighed and closed his eyes. “Exactly.”

Jake led Tim through the perils of the tabletop gaming adventure in the dining room, where a treasure trove of multi-sided dice lay on the table. They needed to be fast, or, Jake knew from experience, they would be invited to “roll up a character and join in!” He hurried Tim down the hall where bookshelves groaned under their load of science fiction and fantasy books and into the relative calm of the family room.

Since all of the kids normally cleared out on Saturday nights, the boys would have the TV and gaming console to themselves. Usually, none of them stayed around when it was gaming night. Not that their parent’s friends weren’t nice, but playing games with your parents just wasn’t cool, unless it was only the family at home. And even then, it had better be something, well, normal, like Monopoly.

But Jake was tired of going to other people’s houses on Saturday nights. He knew the TV wasn’t in use at home, and he really wanted to have a friend over. His parents were fine with the idea; Jake was the one who had a problem with it. He had worried about this for a week, but finally he had decided that Tim was his best bet. He would let Tim in on his dirty little secret – his parents were geeky, nerdy, played D&D and any other game they could find, collected comics, read science fiction and fantasy… He only hoped that he had made the right decision, and Tim wouldn’t smear his name all over school.

Jake tossed a bag of chips, rescued from the kitchen counter as they had gone through, onto the sofa and turned to Tim. “Um, my folks…”

Tim smiled. “No biggie. My folks do some strange stuff, too. At least we get the PS3 to ourselves!”

Jake sighed with relief and dug up a couple of remotes. As a loud conversation comparing the new Star Trek movie to one of the old ones rolled out of the dining room, he thought that maybe they’d even brave passage through the dining room once more for some chili later on. His dad’s chili was really good.

Off and on, gamers would cycle through the family room on the way to the bathroom, and offer comments on the game the boys were playing. Tim asked, “Is it like this all the time around here?”

“Every Saturday night,” Jake replied, his teeth gritted slightly.

“Man, it’s okay, really it is. I kind of like it. It sure beats my dad’s poker parties, where it’s just guys and they all get bombed and mad at each other.”

Jake had to admit that yeah, this would be better than that.

“Or my mom’s Bunco parties. All women, talking about clothes or diets or other women.” He rolled his eyes.

Jake had never thought of it that way. In comparison, his parents’ gaming night was pretty decent. At least they didn’t get bombed and they talked about some cool stuff.

“Yeah. Huh. Hey, you want to get some chili? And have you seen that new Star Trek movie yet? What did you think?”

It looked like Tim was going to work out great, he thought, as they plowed into the conversation and die-rolling in the dining room on their way to get chili.

“Having a good evening?” someone asked when they came into the dining room.

Jake smiled, and said, “Exactly.”

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