Monday, August 29, 2005

Game Store Confidential ~ Flesh Eating Hamsters & Death by Ennui

“So when we entered the third door on the left, Bob, he was the chaotic-evil-lawfully-neutral Anti-Paladin Rogue with a part DragonKin, part Troll heritage, decided to jump in so he could get first crack at the orcish horde we all knew must be waiting in the room and Matt, who was the 19th level druid with a halfling mother, a sorcerers talent, and a yen for roasted goat, decided now was the time to unleash the Ring of Flashing-Glowing-Exploding-Ponderousness so he could snag the XP’s for the encounter and at the same time the ring went off I hear a Thwaaack!!! from behind me as Mildred, the part-Yeti Rangerette from the Planes of Prismatic Evil unleashed her Bow of Bombastic…….”

Hmmm...now where did I put my Mossberg Autoloader... otherwise known as the 12 Gauge of Silence Creation.

The D&D Geek in front of me had been droning on for about 35 minutes and I was starting to get that itchy, crawling-skin thing I have always heard heroin addicts experience when they need a fix. And this bonehead was so into his story and so oblivious to reading my body language that if I’d had can of Mace or a handy brickbat I’d willingly have done what was required to put him out of my misery.

But the guy had about $150 worth of D&D books stacked on the counter, a pocketful of tip money from delivering pizza, and he was determined to tell his story to anyone who couldn’t escape. Being a retailer, and also being trapped behind the counter, I qualified as an eager listener.

Earlier in the day a chubby little guy about 12 years old had been in, and though he wasn’t a D&D player, he had put me into the early stages auto-sleep mode talking about how he and his sister were going to make a small fortune raising and selling hamsters.

“Oh really? Hamsters? How’s that work?”

“Piece o’ cake, me and Lillith have these two hamsters and we have this old Habitrail set my mom got at a yard sale for $5 and we’re going to let them… let them… you know, do it. And then we’ll take the babies and when they’re big enough the pet store will buy them and we’ll make enough money, because hamsters do it all the time you know, we’ll make enough money that I can come in here and I can get ten thousand Yu-Gi-Oh cards and I can buy some of the pirate ships and MechWarrior packs and…..”

What the hell is this little Dorkus thinking? Hamsters?

It was warm outside and I had stayed up late the night before, catching up on a backlog of Tivo programs. I had two episodes of BattleStar Galactica to watch...

they sucked, just like the program did when Lorne Green was the admiral

two Superbike World Championship races to enjoy...

the best thing to come out of France in the last 20 years is Regis Laconi, that Frenchie can ride a frickin’ motorcycle!

and a Cajun Cookin’ program where the chef gives vital instructions on how to char crawdads into a pile of ash and cayenne pepper.

a waste of time, I already know how to burn food into blackened lumps

I was already tired when the porky little Hamster Farmer had almost put me to sleep and now the D&D Geek was drowning me in a story so boring, so convoluted and so tedious that I needed to covertly check my pulse every minute or so to make sure I was still alive.

So you think you want to own a game store huh? First off, you have to ask yourself: do you have the emotional fortitude to listen to unbelievably long and seemingly endless recountings of every ennui inducing D&D campaign ever run by the full membership of your local Napoleon Dynamite Look-Alike Club? Do you quiver with excitement at the prospect of answering the phone 375 times a day and telling greedy little 9 year olds that you’re not interested in buying their worthless Pokemon cards? Do you like to rub shoulders with hordes of pock-faced teenagers wearing pants the size of the sails on a Turkish Corsair, horrible looking Black Sabbath t-shirts and ball caps perched at such stupid angles they make the fiddler in O’ Brother Where Art Thou look positively brilliant?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then you probably already have a serious personality disorder of your own or, at the very least, you need to get your therapist to up the dosage on your meds. Either way, you'd probably do just fine running a game store.

“… you see hamsters get lots and lots of babies and me and Lillith figure that if the pet store will buy them from us at 75 cents each we can keep some of the babies and breed them too, cause babies grow up and, you know, want to do it too. So then-“

“If you breed the babies back to their mothers and fathers won’t you end up with a bunch of retarded hamsters?”

The chubby little guy paused for a moment, not so much reflecting on what I had said as deciding whether I was really so stupid as to think he and Lillith wouldn’t succeed in their hamster enterprise.

“So anyways, we can have this whole hamster breeding business and once the local pet store starts buying all we can make then we’ll call the other stores and make more babies and then maybe we’ll even be able to get a buck per baby hamster and-“

“Did you know hamsters eat their young?”

That stopped the little porker right in his giant, flapping basketball shorts.

“What? Nu-uhh. They do not!”

“Sure they do. We had hamsters and a Habitrail back in the 70’s. We had the same plan too. Only we weren’t going to breed the babies back to their parents and create a race of mentally disadvantaged hamsters. Unfortunately, the parents ate the babies and I sold the Habitrail in a yard sale.”

The kid looked at me like I had just personally eaten both his hamsters while they were still alive.

“It’s true. Female hamsters have very specific nutritional requirements when they’re nursing and if you don’t satisfy them, then the mother will eat the ones she doesn’t like and nurse the ones that appeal to her. But, if you keep her deprived she’ll end up eating the little baby hamsters that are her favorites.”

The little guy backed up a few feet, glanced at the Yu-Gi-Oh cards longingly and then looked back at me.

“And, you have to keep the father hamster away too; he’ll eat the babies just because.”

The kid kept staring at me, I had his attention now and he was looking skeptically at me, trying to figure out if I was joking.

“You have the internet right?”

“Ye-yes. “

“Check it out then. Do a Google search and see if I’m not right.”

That got rid of the kid with no money. He waddled out of the store at a suprisingly brisk pace and all went well out here in the sticks until the D&D nerd came in to finish off the job of boring me to death.

“… so when Mildred, she’s part Yeti you know, drank from the Fountain of Ineffable Ineffableness she found herself without the voice needed to warn the rest of the party that the kindly old rag merchant was really the God of the Iron Mountains and he was about to unleash a blizzard of Turn-To-Stone spells on us from an amulet that was concealed beneath his moldy old cloak, which was actually a magical Cloak of Bowel Stoppage and we, being intent on looting the corpse of the dead Land Shark that had nearly done us in….”

It was dawning on me that this guy was going to be here until he suffered an even more complete form of brain death from failing to take a breath between sentences, or until I heard every detail of his D&D group’s three year long adventure into mindless nothingness. I had to put a stop to this, I was perilously close to grabbing him by his lip ring and slamming his face repeatedly into the counter, which could possibly end up costing me the sale.

Now if I know anything, I know that a dyed-in-the-wool D&D know-it-all hates not knowing everything. In fact, he hates that almost as much as he hates anyone knowing something he knows nothing about. He had left me no choice...

“Did you know that hamsters eat their young?”

“Huh?”

That got his one remaining attention unit. He waited a second, to see if I was going to say anything else. When I didn’t, he asked, “Have you ever seen one eat their young?”

“Sure have. Back in the 70’s me and my second wife bought this plastic hamster village at a yard sale. They're called Habitrails. Anyway, we decided we could breed hamsters and…”

While I was telling him the whole gory tale about mom and pop hamster rending the flesh from their little baby hamsters I started ringing up the stack of books he had put on the counter about 2 hours ago. He was totally entranced and urged me on while slowly pulling out a wad of sweaty, crumpled ones and fives from his extra-huge sail pants. He handed over the cash and I shoved the bag of D&D books across the counter.

“You have the internet don’t you?”

“Absolutely! I have a 7meg DSL connection with a page load time of .0003 seconds per page! I can move and shoot while the other players are still downloading the-“

“Do a Google search on hamsters then. I’d bet you can throw a real curve at the DM if you add a henchman to the party who has the same nutritional requirements as a female nursing hamster. It’s always best to ground your D&D game in the real world. Right?”

He looked hard at me for a long moment. Finally, a dim light appeared in his forward-facing eye.

“Right. I’ll check it out dude.”

As he headed to the door he looked back, “See ya next week dude!”

Terrific. Was that a threat? Or a warning?

Thankfully, there was peace and quiet in the store. I leaned back and sighed, thinking that things were going just fine now and wondering if my gaming buddies were going to show up that night and play one of the new board games I had recently bought. That's when the front door flew open and in charged the little chubby guy with his equally chubby sister in tow. He had a couple of sheets of printer paper clutched in his hand and a look of eager determination on his face.

“Hey! Do you know that in Peru they raise guinea pigs for food!”

“Sure do. I think they call it chicarron.”

“Well, me and Lillith….”

I think I need a career change.

14 comments:

sodaklady said...

"I think I need a career change"

Yeah, how about a job in a pet store? Just don't agree to work for commission! :D

Yehuda said...

dw,

I don't know where you've been until this blog, but you are just amazing. Your writing reminds me of the stories by Ab3 on RPG.net, although his were even more gruesome.

You are a force of nature and a phenomenon, and you are making it so much harder for the rest of us to compete. It's a privilege to be reading your work.

Thank you,
Yehuda

gamesgrandpa said...

And we have another BIG winner!

DW does it again. Terrific blog. Kept me laughing. You make Mondays worthwhile.

Patrik S said...

I might be a geek, but this was absolutely great!!!

/Strömer, from Sweden

Travis said...

Fantastic. This one especially cracked me up. I really enjoy your entries. Keep it up.

GROGnads said...

Yes, I agree with the 'consensus' that THIS was "very funny", and thank you for relating it, for us to enjoy! So maybe you ought to 'get' that "Hamster Rancher" to become a "Monster Rancher" and use his 'Gaming Console' for MORE 'productive' means-i.e. KEEPs him 'busy' and outta yer hair!

Coldfoot said...

Retarded hamsters? I won't die on that hill, but I believe that phrase is redundant.

Should have told the kid that inbreeding might lead to "Super-mutant-ninja-hamsters".

Xal said...

I'm still laughing :D

Nice reading, keep up the good job.

Melissa said...

I'm sure I've met *both* of those people.

And possibly some of your hamsters as well.

Steve said...

Personality disorder is me...

Give the hamster dude a break. He might fail, and fail miserably, but its a great lesson learned, esp. when you consider most of his peers are a-fixed like magnets to PS2 and Madden 2006.

I loved the story BTW.

speaking of TiVo...Battlestar Galactica suks! It's as bad an example a Sci-Fi offers, however, Rome (HBO) looks interesting. Speaking of season passes, what ever happened to Discovery channel's Garage Take over? I miss that show...

Well, I desire the best for the weight-challenged fella who is planning his future on the humping ratio of his rodents. Consider this DW: he is a future capitalist and well, that's what makes the economy go round.

Steve said...

Personality disorder is me...

Give the hamster dude a break. He might fail, and fail miserably, but its a great lesson learned, esp. when you consider most of his peers are a-fixed like magnets to PS2 and Madden 2006.

I loved the story BTW.

speaking of TiVo...Battlestar Galactica suks! It's as bad an example a Sci-Fi offers, however, Rome (HBO) looks interesting. Speaking of season passes, what ever happened to Discovery channel's Garage Take over? I miss that show...

Well, I desire the best for the weight-challenged fella who is planning his future on the humping ratio of his rodents. Consider this DW: he is a future capitalist and well, that's what makes the economy go round.

fubar awol said...

You are one entertaining writer Tripp. It's been a while since I laughed out loud that many times in 2000 words...

Dame Koldfoot said...

I think I found one of Coldie's "Super-mutant-ninja-hamsters" (or some other small rodent variation thereof) dead on my kitchen floor this morning. Makes me wonder what Coldfoot is doing in his free time . . . Perhaps an experiment in the cold weather adaptability of small furry creatures.

Face said...

Dude, if my HackMaster stories get even close to that, breakout the boomstick!