Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My name is Rachel, and I was a Wargamer.

My name is Rachel and I am a Wargamer.

Yes, you read right. I know what you’re thinking…..those people are freaks [said with love], and you’d be right, and I’m proud to have been one of them. Despite my haven’t really kept in touch or actually PLAYED the games when I was there, I still consider myself a part of a hidden culture at the UW – Parkside campus.

For me, it was about the friends, not the games. I felt a part of something. I was a part of these people.

My good friend Lynn V. brought me up for the first time during my second semester at UW-Parkside in early 1990. It was a magical place, said loosely, filled with strange people that had neat things to say, weird games I’ve never heard of, lots of black clothing with chain mail or leather. Granted, I really didn’t understand many of the terms at the time….things like kvotes, mechs, and Amiga come to mind. Later I've learned that there are many of 'Bitch Kvotes' out there in the world.

The room was cool, and hidden unless you knew about it. I remember laughing at the people that happened to ‘find’ themselves up there mistakenly. They look around quickly and turn around and almost run down the stairs. Our room was located in Molinaro Hall on the 4th floor. You had to take the elevator up to the 3rd floor, then take the stairs to the next floor. We had roof access but it was locked. I think at one time, we were able to go out there, but something must’ve happened so they stopped that train.

We had a refrigerator to keep our lunches, but preferred eating in the Cafeteria. I still have dreams about the Slab ‘O Death pizza they had there. Many times, a pack of us would head down together to get a few slices. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. It’s amazing I didn’t gain the freshman 15 that semester. That ugly head waited ‘til the last couple of years.

The room usually had music going, usually the hard rock variety. That was in then. And the stuff we listened to usually was more of the classic range, so probably still is in. We had these great drawers that I’ve recently been told once held computer punch cards. Each person had a drawer or two to hold their precious things. Lynn mentioned to me the other day that she wondered what she had stored in hers. I do too. Probably things like hairspray, comb, deodorant, gum, etc…but I’d really like to know.

Games were an essential part of our group. I preferred the social aspect, not the game aspect. I guess that made me more of an outsider than the others. I think being a woman made me appealing. There weren’t many of us up there. I gave myself a nickname. I often had a sassy side (still do) and quickly became ‘Bitch with an Attitude’, ‘Bitch’ for short. There was also a ‘Wench with an Attitude’, whose name was Lynn Klaus. I enjoyed being Bitch. I think it represented my attitude at that time well.

I had always been very studious and did well in school. College was different. I learned now that I should’ve dropped classes instead of stop going (to go to the Warroom). When I was not in class, I was there - studying, talking, laughing, eating, relaxing. I learned lots of things. I regret not finishing college, but it is what it is. I wouldn’t have changed my time I had there, except maybe to have kept in touch with my new friends.

My dad didn’t like me ‘gallivanting’ all hours of the night, so my visits to my new friends’ houses usually ended by 11:30 and me racing home to sneak in the door before the clock struck midnight. I was a real life Cinderella when it came to my dad. So unfortunately, most of my social memories came during school hours, thus I probably got spared a lot of the bad stuff. I did not drink, so it was probably better that way.

One particularly memory comes to mind. It was the day before/after Thanksgiving (can’t remember which)and we had an incredible snow storm – probably around 9 inches or so. I had been dating a guy from my high school and he had visited me that day at my house. We were discussing my coming over to his house while his parents were away so we could be ‘together’. I couldn’t make a viable excuse and told him I couldn’t. I told him, “So I’ll see you at Christmas right?” to which he replied, “I don’t think so” thus ending our 1 and a half year relationship.

I was devastated. I cried in my mom’s arms for the first time and told her what happened. That was a good feeling. I was 18. But I knew then where I needed to go next. I drove for nearly 2 hours to get to UWP to go to the Warroom. I don’t remember who was all there, but remember that the trip was worth it and instantly made me feel better. The guys that were up there did what most guys do, and started to rip the ‘ex’ a new one and that gave me a warm & tingly feeling inside. They soothed me with words and putdowns of the man who so scorned their Bitch. I got over the guy eventually, but the Wargamers were my people that did that for me.

Why did I tell this story? I know the people that have read it already know about the room, the culture, the bonds, but my hopes is that they already know how special they were to me, and that to not judge people just by how they look, as our society tells us to, and that there is a place that everyone is welcome.

I have been blessed to have known these friends, and hope to catch up once again. Everybody needs good people. At that time in my life, they were mine.


Evil Twin's Wife said...

It's often the misfits who are the non-judgmental of all people.

Maggie said...

You are so right- we all need good people! What a wonderful group of folks and a nice memory!