Adulthood is bullshit. If you’re anything like me, the bills and chores and bills and chores and bills and fucking chores of the daily grind of a so-called grownup are more than enough to sometimes make you yearn for a simpler time. A time when your only real worries were how to fart your time away, and who to do it with. But were adolescence and all its assorted activities really what our nostalgia-prone brains cut them out to be? Like a man stumbling into the world of video games after years of abstinence, only to find out that time and technological advancement have turned them into a strange madness soup, someone looking to revisit their old childhood hobbies might well find them to be completely void of any entertainment.
That fear of losing some of your most cherished memories is why it’d take someone completely insane to try it. Someone with no sense of shame or personal comfort. Someone almost too stupid to exist.
So what are we still waiting for? Let’s dive in, bitches!
#5. Role-Playing Games
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Don’t get me wrong, the significant percentage of our readers which is currently preparing to pelt me with d8s for insinuating that tabletop RPGs are for kids. (You’d better be using those, because unless you’re a dead shot with d4s, they have the best sharpness/amount of corners ratio for taking an eye out. Trust me, I know.) I’m not saying that at all. I know for a fact that it’s possible to have a fulfilling as fuck life playing them well into your middle age. I’m just saying I personally didn’t.
But back in the 1990s, I walked the fuckin’ walk. D&D, AD&D, MERP, RuneQuest, Shadowrun, Call Of Cthulhu, Paranoia!, bullshit indie games no one could ever figure out, a self-made one that brought people to punches on a nightly basis — you name it, I’ve pathetically failed at a dexterity roll to scale it. Had a posse, had a crew. Been a player, been an extremely awful GM. Swallowed tears as my pet puma died. Go ahead, tell me I don’t know my shit.
My only failing was a tendency to dive in whenever a gelatinous cube rolled along, screaming “Jell-O party!”
But at some point, it all went away. High school ended. I moved to another town. People started studying shit and getting girlfriends this way and that. Some were tenacious and kept playing, but I just couldn’t find the time anymore. Even so, I’ve always regarded those dragon-slaying days as some of my best memories before legal drinking age, so it seemed like a good place to start.
But you know what, guys? I think this shit just doesn’t affect me anymore. I fully remember all the ways RPGs entertained me. I located a GM acquaintance who’s still in the game, and attended a few sessions. To maximize the experience, I recreated my very first character (a warrior named Geoffrey the Great, because of fucking course), and I jumped into the fray just like I always had.
And it did. Not. Work. Because at its core, this shit is the same stuff you do anyway, only with a whole lot more orcs and bickering. Filling a character sheet alone was a perfect analogy for filing my fucking taxes, complete with the dice that kept giving me much smaller numbers than I’d prefer. The missions and interactions are glorified chores. The other players are basically the same folks you meet at the water cooler every day at work.
This isn’t a bad thing. On the contrary, realizing this is when I realized that tabletop RPGs — the vivid imagination and adherence to set rules they require — do a buttload to prepare you for adult life. The downside, at least for me, is that when you already have that shit somewhat down, it can be difficult to sit down and do the same, but with everyone wearing elf ears and throwing fireballs at you.
#4. Childhood Sports
I’ve mentioned before that I was bullied as a kid, because I was a) a timid introvert, and b) weird as fuck. One of my many attempts to blow through that shit was sports; preferably as far away from my own hunting grounds as possible. I attended some self-defense classes, because I’d seen Karate Kid and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and was delusional enough to think that game-changing kicks from 70-pound kids exist. Upon realizing that they did not, I dabbled with soccer a little.
I was complete and utter shit at soccer, realizing early on that I’d be a better spectator than player, and having followed that logic ever since. I fared better at my punchier hobbies — once or twice, I was even told that I had some talent. The problem was that I had zero motivation for competition. Talent or not, I saw myself as a trike in the Tour de France, and saw no point in attempting to reach the top, preferring instead to do some useless bullshit like reading and writing.
“Words? On paper? Fucking hipster.”
In a way, though, I did enjoy sports. So it makes sense to give my old bullshit physical extortion ways a final eau d’jockstrap-laced spin. I located the closest thing to a “worthy opponent” I could hope to find (i.e. the only dude with similar martial arts experience I knew who didn’t start scream-laughing when I started talking about worthy opponents), hit the nearest gym with something approaching a tatami, and got sparring.
As for soccer, Cracked’s own Charley Daniels has learned firsthand that taking up a highly technical sport as an adult isn’t the easiest thing out there. Seeing as how my childhood dabbling with the game was a lot less Lionel Messi and a lot more “wave your hands and scream a lot while never ever touching the ball,” I didn’t even think of sparring with people who actually knew what they were doing. Instead, I hit the pitch with a few friends who were (I foolishly assumed) of a similar skill level, only to have my ass thoroughly handed to me at every opportunity.
In both enterprises, I bumped into the same issue. Muscle memory is a funny thing; although I am technically aware of the correct moves in whatever situation I might find myself in, I kept attempting to move like the skinny kid I was when I last played, as opposed to the 200-pound hair monster I’ve grown into. The result: Yet again, every single dexterity roll came with a -4 modifier.
Don’t get me wrong. I love listening to music. I’m just like every other fleshling. I have favorite bands and songs and shit.
Here’s one of them. Don’t thank me; thank Luke McKinney.
It’s the playing part that I have a problem with. This is one of those fun parents-induced “hobbies” most everyone has in their history. But somehow, the thing my folks wanted me to do managed to be the exact one that I really have less than zero talent for. I would actually have kind of wanted to learn at least one instrument, but I found soon enough that I am to musicians what Donald Trump is to barbers. The violin? Sucked at it so bad that the cat pulled a Pet Sematary to ask for its guts back. The piano? The elephant assured me that the keys were plastic and not ivory, yet stomped the keyboard anyway out of principle. If I ever even attend a concert with Hannibal Lecter, I’m going to be soup before intermission, lest I meet one of the musicians and ruin their skills forever with my mere presence. That’s how shitty a musician I am.
I’ve always wondered if this is yet another case of me failing the fucking dexterity roll? Or is it charisma? What does it take to learn to play three chords on a fucking guitar? Whatever it is, I don’t have it. Probably should’ve chosen the bard class.
(Just kidding, kids. Never play the fucking bard.)
Hell, I can’t even write lyrics for a song. The few times I’ve been asked to, I’ve noticed that I can write a poem just fine, but if I know it’s going to be used as a lyric, my head immediately rotates 360 degrees and I jump out of the window, leaving behind a faint trace of green bile.
So of course I picked up the bass. Turns out, I’m alright.
#2. Playground Games
You know what? Fuck it. Adult me clearly sucks at all the things kid me … uh, also sucked at, though marginally less. Maybe I’m going about this the wrong way. Maybe, just maybe, I should focus more on … other things.
Hey. Hey! I’ve got it. Remember the days before the Internet was a thing? When the building’s kids used to go outside and play all sorts of bullshit playground games? You know the ones — hopscotch, hide and seek, tag, skipping rope. That shit didn’t require any extra talent, right? It was all about being together and having fun, right up until someone inevitably got hurt and started crying. Often, even after that. Especially after that.
Maybe that’s what the essence of childhood is all about. Just down-and-out playing, with no strings attached and no meaningful scores given. Yeah. I’mma give that shit a go. All I need to do is round up a few neighbors, remind them of the rules, and have fun, fun, fun!
Whether they like it or not.
Rounding up the neighbors was easy enough, but unfortunately, they didn’t seem to be too responsive to my suggestions of fun and games. “No, dude,” they said, “I really can’t play hide and seek with you at 3 a.m. I have work tomorrow.” “Why are you doing this to us?” “Please, man. I have children!” Excuses, excuses, excuses. Clearly, they were as out of touch with their inner kid as I was before I started this experiment. Maybe I should introduce them to a different childhood hobby? Like, say, RC cars. I used to have a bunch of those as a kid, didn’t I? Maybe I’ll rig one up and show it to my new friends.
I’ll show them, all right. I’ll show them all.
Ahahaha. Aaahhahahahha. HAAAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
#1. RC Cars
Cold wind blew through the streets of the small, Pacific Northwest town that we’re unable to name for legal reasons. Deputy Nielsen entered the Sheriff’s office, glad to get out of the unforgiving yet polite gust blowing from Canada.
“Anything new, Bob?” he asked his colleague — who, Nielsen couldn’t help noticing, was looking paler than usual.
“Not really,” Bob replied. “Well … except for one thing. We have another Cracked columnist in the cells.”
Nielsen sighed. “Goddammit. Please don’t tell me it’s Bucholz again. I still haven’t found all the fake dog balls from the time he dumped industrial amounts of Neuticles all over my house.”
“No, it’s the screaming European one with the name like an explosion in a diphthong factory. He’s been playing D&D again, insists I call him ‘Geoffrey the Great’ and keeps proclaiming that he’s busting out of here any second now because he rolled a 98.”
“Fuck! The ‘reliving childhood hobbies’ routine again? How many neighbors did he kidnap this time?”
“Just six. Strapped them into a remote-controlled, pimped-up Honda Civic and revved it all across the West Coast. They managed to escape just before he inevitably crashed it.”
“Well, that’s a relief. At least it’s not Brockway this time. They just finished rebuilding the town hall from the time he decided he was Conan the Barbarian.”
“Yeah, uh, about that …”
There was a long silence. “He crashed the car into the town hall, didn’t he?”
Nielsen buried his head in his hands. “Why do they keep coming here, Bob? Their office is in California, for fuck’s sake!”
“I don’t know. I mean, you hear stories. Some say an intern sent them a postcard from here once, with some bullshit quote off a Snapple cap. They thought it was a rite of summoning, and just started wandering here on their off time, one by one. Or maybe their boss just got tired of the insurance costs and just sets them loose on us now every time they start to veer out of control, which is always. By now, I suppose they just think this town is their mommy, or Twin Peaks or whatever.”
“Right.” With the quiet grace of a man carrying the world on his shoulders, Nielsen checked his watch and stood up. “Well, I suppose we have a job to do. Let’s head out … oh, and let’s call and warn the fire department while we’re at it.”
“Wait, there’s a fire?”
“No, but you know how good this guy is at fashioning lock picks out of earwax. He’s long escaped by now, and the next item on his list is … water pistols.”
“Fuck a duck. You know, dude, I think I’m getting too old for this shit.”
“Come on, Bob. We’ve been through this a hundred times before. All we need to do is keep him occupied for a while until he forgets where he is, decides to write a column about “The 5 Best Ways to Jump-Kick Bears,” and wanders off to do research.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. This should be routine for us by now. Besides, I only have three weeks until retirement. Whatever could go wrong?”
The deputies turned to the door, squared their shoulders, and stepped out into the harsh wind. The first blast from the fire hose caught them before they’d crossed the street.
Originally found athttp://www.cracked.com/