Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ruminations on turning the Big Four-Oh

"Or a Life Spent Wargaming"
This Saturday I turn forty, and like many in our weird little hobby, ponder how I spent so much time on booze, cigars and little lead soldiers. My earliest memories are of shooting plastic army men from Lincoln Log forts with dart guns alongside my Dad in his little apartment on the weekends. He bought the 1/32 Airfix soldiers at the now long gone Pappenfuss Hardware here in Independence. It was the painting guides on the back that got me interested in actually painting them. I was already constantly drawing, so I added painting to the mix.
Then in 1981, two world changing events happened. First, Bob Angotti introduced me to Dungeons & Dragons (thanks Bob, for a future life spent in the basement) and second, that wonderful tome known as the JC Penny Christmas catalogue came out, offering a box of Grenadier AD & D lead miniatures complete with paints and a "How to Paint guide". I spent that Christmas holiday at my grandparents in Arizona feverishly cranking out fighters and wizards. I created my own rules for combat, and was hooked.
There were two places in town that sold miniatures, and like a addict, I spent every dime I scrounged together on miniatures and begged my Mom to drive me to King's Crown and Yankee Doodle. When I wasn't painting or playing, I was thinking about painting or playing. It was at Yankee Doodle that I got to play with real grown-ups in a real wargame. Both stores are long gone, but I still think of them.
During Junior High and early High School, time that wasn't spent on girls or sports was spent painting and playing, with a lot of time lost to Villains and Vigilantes (I was a comic fiend, too). Later High School and college saw me spending more time on alcohol and girls than my little friends. They went into several large boxes and didn't come out again til I got my first real job at a large greeting card company (where I've been ever since).
Most of my gaming buddies had left or stopped playing all together. I played most of my games with Ken (Lead Addict) until I discovered Kansas City has a large wargaming community. Now I had the money, a huge group to game with and best of all, a lovely wife that tolerated and appreciated my obsession.
The whole exercise of writing this out, I guess, was to tell myself it wasn't time wasted, right? Most of the friends I have today, I got through the hobby. I play board games every Friday with my wife, daughter and son. My kids have grown up next to the gaming table with their Dad (my daughter knew the difference between olive drab and khaki at an early age). My wife has said on several occasions that she doesn't have to worry that I'm off at a bar or a strip club. She knows I'm down in the basement.
So here I am. Forty. It hasn't been bad. And there's thousands (yes, thousands) of little soldiers waiting to give their lives for their uncaring god who gave them painted life. Or not.


Lead Addict said...

I rather enjoyed that Baron. Our paths have long been running side by side since that fateful day that Dan B wanted to me to run a D&D game with the person who would be my best friend for the next 24 years(and counting). As I made my way up to the top of the hill(40), I saw there were a few more behind it. So higher we go my friend before we start headed down the other side.

And at least there were lots of girls along the way.

and children who have been shown that being a hero is fun.

Bluebear Jeff said...

A premature "Happy Birthday" to you, sir.

I've been on the far side of sixty for a while . . . and I still enjoy painting and playing with my little men . . . so do not despair, you have many years left to continue enjoying the hobby.

-- Jeff

Prinz Geoffrey said...

Happy early 40, I turn 40 myself next year so let me know what it is like :) Enjoying the blog and again happy B-day.

Fitz-Badger said...

Have a great birthday!
I turned 53 a couple of weeks ago and have been painting minis and playing games for decades now. These are good hobbies as you pointed out. :)

Essjam said...

Great blog Baron, I assume that Yankee Doodle was Newberry's store out in Grandview.

I am honored that you have allowed me into your circle of friends and really enjoy the gaming with all you guys.

Have a great Birthday, 40 is just getting warmed up.

Now will somebody staunch the wound in my stupid wizard so that I don't bleed out?

Lead Addict said...

No, you should bleed out!

Capt Bill said...

As a social security recipient, I vaguely remember 40 being a very good year. I hope yours is even better...

Chris V said...

Newberry!! I was trying to remember his name and it was driving me crazy! Whatever happened to him? The summer after my freshman year in high school (1985?) I spent a lot of time at the sand table in the back of Yankee Doodle. That was my first introduction to miniature wargaming. It would take me another 17 years before I got into it completely, but I'll never forget the beginning. I enjoyed your post, Baron. I'll turn 40 myself in a few months. Onward and upward.