June 6, 2010 – Pretend Time


“Pretend Time”

You know, there are some cases in which being a drama queen isn’t a bad thing. If it’s actual drama, it’s perfectly appropriate. In school, I never got the lead in any of the Easter or Christmas plays, though Heaven knows I auditioned. They always went to the same person. Though if I ever got a part where I had to interact with the lead, I did so to steal the show, I will happily admit. Perhaps that was part of the reason why I enjoyed my Oral Interpretation class in college so much; there you learned to read so that it didn’t sound like you were reading. When I acted, I didn’t play a character, I became it. I suppose that’s what you would call method acting.

In college, I was introduced to the wonder that was Masked Bandtiz: a series of ad libbed movies that my friends shot on campus. A good vs. evil story, the Banditz kept the campus of the University of Evansville safe from the machinations of The Affiliation, who sought to take over campus and use it to influence the students to their own means. On my 18th birthday, towards the end of my first semester at UofE, I participated in my first Masked Banditz filming, as a minion sent out to destroy EKO, the main female Bandit. EKO was played by the woman who would become my mentor and “duani” (bosslady) in college. Needless to say, it was an honor to get my butt beaten by her, and the movie turned out great. However, I was not content with remaining a “minion”. That night I made the goal of becoming the head of the Affiliation, the main villain, someday throughout the course of our movies. And what can I say? I did. An entire movie revolved around me as the main antagonist and instigator of the Affiliation on the campus of USI across town. It also came along with the best fight scene I have ever had in my life; I still have some of the scars to prove it. I was larping before I even knew what larping was. I even larped “Castle Wolfenstein” for a friend’s birthday; I was a medic.

I adore what my mother-in-law calls “pretend time”. I kept myself gorgeously occupied as a child with long chain stories that could last for days and required no one else to narrate and play them but myself, speaking for my toys. I would compose huge verbalized stories based on picture that I was drawing when I was 4 or 5. I sat on the arm of the couch and pretended to ride a horse into the TV when I watched “Young Riders”; I was one of the cowboys (thankful that one of them was actually a girl).

So I was prime material for larping when I met Ben. It took a few months of him explaining the game to me and helping me build a character, but, finally, in January 2005, he took me to my first Vampire: The Requiem larp. I recognized the book, actually; I had seen a boy with it during my senior year of college and I remember calling it the “creepy red book”. I trembled all night as a terrified thrall (a human controlled by a vampire, a servant) on her first foray into the night-world of vampires. In fact, I don’t think anyone had played a ghoul in the troupe game before I did, so I unwittingly began to set precedent. By the time I left the troupe game, there were rules in place that every new player had to begin as a ghoul and work their way up, ghouls’ heads were never higher than their regnants’ (ie, kneeling on the floor when your regnant sat), and all ghouls wore some sort of binding or “collar” around their neck to signify their position (girls normally wore ribbons, men wore a necklace or something of the like). It amuses me to see some of those things still in practice in game 5 years later. The ribbon came about, honestly, because I had a length of ribbon with me that I couldn’t decide what to do with so I tied it around my throat. STs and other players liked it and thus it was. Fun times!

I enjoy letting myself fall away and occupying the life of someone else for a while, someone who may be similar or vastly different from me. There is a sense of freedom to it, to inhabit the mind of another person, however made-up they may be, let their confidences or fears wrap around you and act accordingly. I once played a ghoul character that had been in an accident and the fear center of her brain destroyed because of it. Now THAT was amusing. I think like my characters, move like they do, speak like they do. Oh, Mel is still here, of course, but she is sitting back and enjoying “pretend time”. And pretend time is lots of fun when you can do it with other people. Ben’s mother laughs at us and teases that we didn’t get enough pretend time as children. We assure her that we most certainly did but we enjoy it so why give it up? I spent my sunny lunch hour as a child playing pretend with the other children. Sometimes it was house but, especially in kindergarten, it was Peter Pan. I was either Wendy or Tiger Lily and, of course, I was in trouble, captured by Captain Hook. And I didn’t want to be rescued. Never. Even at the age of 5, the drama of it all was too intoxicating and I was just too much of a drama queen to let it go without a fight.

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