April 17, 2012

Lightfooted Linebackers

It had been ages since I've seen my buddy Willis.  Ok, so that's not his real name, but it's what I knew him by in high school.  He was part of a group of friends who played probably more tabletop roleplaying games than was healthy.  (I still credit that to my lack of melanin.  Later, it would be my choice to go into IT.)  Our game of choice was anything that White Wolf produced.  Of course, we were also LARPers.  Yes, we were the kids moping around public parks after sundown, waving boffer weapons and skulking around with Halloween fangs in our mouths.  And we liked it, dammit!

Like I said, it had been ages.  But then, through the 6 degrees of Samurai, we got back in touch recently because of our penchant for standing up in front of people and saying whatever the fuck we wanted to.  It was just tonight, after I was able to usher him to the stage after I was done performing with a throwback "What'chu talkin' 'bout Willis?" that I was reminded that I have a story about the old gang that's just aching to be told.

A partial view of the front of the house.
Let me set the stage for you.  Growing up, I lived in a Normal Rockwell painting.  The house was built in
something like 1928, was old, creaky, and glorious.  The previous owner sold it to my folks long after he'd stopped being able to take care of it.  As such, it was in a state of disrepair when they moved in, and for years it wasn't unusual to have a snake slither across the living room floor, a spider in your shoe, or other creepy crawlies skitter through the dark recesses of my childhood.

We were located on about 11 acres of land north of the city.  The joke was, we were on the hills, overlooking the ghettos of town, since the north side has a reputation for being a little rough.  Being that we were technically outside the city limits, we didn't have much by way of streetlights, and it got pretty dark after sundown.  The property is also mostly wooded, so the yard was surrounded by mature trees.
The view of the back yard from the patio.

We also had an in-ground pool, complete with underwater light in the back yard.  Many of my friends were in marching band, and my place was the after football game destination where you could peel off the polyester and cannonball your way to refreshment.

The night in question was when I was probably a junior in high school.  It was around 10:00 at night on an evening when the summer heat broke after the sun set, and the evening settled around your shoulders like a bathrobe.  The stars peeked out, and the moon shone down, reflecting off the ripples in the pool water we stirred up.  The group of us decided to kick back and take in the night, rejoicing in our dark souls post LARP.  Now, these friends of mine were not your typical gamer geek.  They were large men.  They towered over me, and looked more like linebackers and soon-to-be security guards than the dweebs popular media would have had you believe them to be.   Their idea of kicking back in the pool was to change out of their jeans shorts and tshirts into gym shorts and a different tshirt and stand around in the shallow end, looking all hard.  You know, arms crossed, jaws squared, tough.  Me?  I'm doing my damndest to look adorable with sopping wet hair and runny makeup, floating in a donut shaped pool toy.

As I'm daintily paddling around the pool, trying to nonchalantly swat the scourge of mosquitoes that want to make me dinner, I'm noticing a few critters skimming the water as if they're getting a drink.  To me, it's not a big deal.  I didn't think anything of it.  However, one of my linebacker friends see the same thing and mentioned it.  I believe the conversation went something like this:

"Hey Ephemily," he says, pointing to the air just above the surface of the water, "Isn't it a little late for the birds to be out?".  My back was turned at the time, so I daintily and limp-wristedly paddled to turn the float in order to see what he's talking about.  I watch as another dive bomber kissed the surface of the water, barely leaving a disturbance behind, and grin.  Oh, this should be interesting.

With my head cocked to one side, sugar sweet voice, and I'm sure a smirk affixed to my face, I said, "Darling, those aren't birds.  Those are bats.  They're eating the bugs that are drawn to the light in the pool."

However, before I can get past "eating the bugs", I hear a commotion and frantic splashing from behind me.  My brave knights, the boys who would play werewolves, my linebackers with reading comprehension suddenly had somewhere else to be.  Anywhere, really.  And they couldn't have gotten there any faster even if Moses was there to give them a hand.  As I watch them haul ass through the gate, up the cobblestone path, and into the porch, I can't help but throw my head back and laugh.  And I cackled a glorious cackle, slipped off the float into the water, and emerged a few seconds later at the steps in the shallow end.  In their haste, they'd forgotten their towels on the patio table.  I grabbed mine and dried off with it before I gathered theirs up and half-skipped up to the porch.  There, I found them waiting for me as far away from the bats as they could get.

As I handed them their towels, you know I had to give 'em hell about how we were *just* playing a game about vampires and werewolves, but a flying mammal the size of a teacup terrified them out of the pool.  Guy, I love you.  I mean it, but you gotta know you're never gonna live that down.  *air kisses*

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