It struck me the other day how certain phrases in the English language can mean two entirely different things and potentially lead to horrendously embarrassing situations.
I got talking to a woman I met in a bar recently who one could describe as, for want of a better word, ‘glamorous’. She asked me what sort of things I am into and I replied that I still enjoyed a bit of role-playing which I’d dabbled with quite frequently at school, but didn’t have much time for these days.
I noticed her face light up at this point, and she seemed intrigued to know more about my starting so young and how I’d found my first time. I told her that the first character I ever played was an heroic monk with a magical staff, and that I outlasted all my acquaintances who all perished at the hands of the gamesmaster. When she asked if my parents approved, I told her that they would’ve preferred me to spend more time on my exam revision rather than shooting along dark tunnels waving my staff at anything that moved.
She was curious to find out why there had been no girls in my group. I told her that it was mainly because I’d had an all-boy private education and, at the time, girls to me were about as fantastical as the treasure we were all seeking in the depths of the gamesmaster’s dungeon. The woman took a sip of her drink and, leaning towards me sensuously, asked if I’d like to cast a spell on her with my magic staff because she had some treasure worth finding, and called me ‘big boy’.
I said that I hadn’t realised she was also into Dungeons & Dragons, and it was only when I noticed her confused expression that I suddenly realised she was touting for business and had been referring to role-playing games of a very different kind. I felt my face go white and apologised profusely, explaining that I was talking about the tabletop kind of role-playing. She just shrugged and said that, in her experience, it didn’t matter where you did it as it all amounted to the same thing.
I left the bar pronto, and on my way back to the station found myself recalling another tabletop game we all used to play called Wargames which involves fighting imaginary battles using a set of rules and metal soldiers. A boy in my House came up to me one day and asked if I’d be interested in joining the school’s Wargames Society. I’d never heard of it at the time, and when I asked him what it was he said that a bunch of them would get together in a classroom every Tuesday afternoon and ‘beat the shit out of each other.’
Naturally, I declined the offer.