Raindog and Sushi
Geoff woke up after six hours of sleep and he woke me up to tell me that he couldn't sleep anymore. I was still exhausted and it felt so much like when Fezzik wakes up really early and he wants to do something or go out and I thought blearily that it might be good to give him something to do so that I could sleep some more. John's gotten really good at just leaving me alone on weekend mornings, taking Fezzik out onto the front porch so that John can read the newspaper and pet Fezzik and the two of them have a routine that lets mom sleep. Geoff, of course, didn't know any of that. So, grasping the first thing that came into my head, I asked him to get me panty shields and maxi pads, in case the period turned real.
I know. I know. It's probably the worst thing one can ask of a single man. I'll probably have to pay this back in some terrible way, but ask him I did, and intrepid Geoff walked out into the rain and wet to the one store he knew was open and within a bit of a walking distance. He went and tried to puzzle out the obscure and pretty labelling on feminine hygine products. Poor Geoff.
He did well, though, and came back a while later. I'd gotten more sleep and when he came back to tell me that he didn't know if he'd gotten the right thing or not and sounded mildly anxious, I dragged him into bed with me. He was nearly shivering, his hair and cheek tasted of rain and his shirt and jeans were damp and his muscles were tight against the cold and, maybe, not knowing if he'd done the right thing. That he'd done it at all was more than enough for me. So I dragged him under the covers, wrapped my warm, sleepy self around him and reassured him and it was comforting to feel him relax into my warmth and relax with the reassurances that he'd done an impossible thing and done it well. His nickname is Raindog and at that moment he was everything I thought of in the name.
Eventually we got up, showered thoroughly, and sat down to a breakfast of the last of the donuts, some coffee and no real plan for the day as it was raining and grey out. The perfect kind of day to just stay in and talk and browse and read and think.
We talked a lot about how things were working out, and that it really does seem that it is. That was cool.
We then talked a lot about Kindred of the East, which is a game published by White Wolf; but he's taken his own version of it and is running it for half a dozen people that all have creative capabilities as wild as his. The characters themselves are all Eastern Vampires, who, unlike Western Vampires, believe that they have a duty towards righteousness as they were once the Thousand Heros who, through pride, huberis and bad living, Fell to be the Thousand Demons and their existance without breath is a curse that they deserved. It's so different from the angst-filled vampires that I've always heard about, and the attitude of the players and the setup really is filled with bad stuff but also, at the core, the ability to do things that will help to rise above it all. It jives, much more solidly, with how I used to think of the dark and terror and terrible circumstances of the old cyberpunk I used to write, where for all that it's awful, there's ways to rise above.
The other thing that intrigued me is the whole feeling of the game, which captures, very well, the very Chinese game of obligation and debt and the power of gifts and family responsibility. Groups of the Eastern Kindred are groups of chosen families, they treat each other as live Chinese treat family. Keep the trouble within the family and everything can only be trusted to those that one is related to or those who have been brought, de facto, into the family. The feeling of that was eerie, interesting in this light and lots of fun to think through. Interesting to have role players actually debated the very best gift to give a particular magistrate to get a particular type of favor. The web of obligation and subtle ties and pulls was fascinating.
Geoff also rapsodized over Gator's Philly game, which has some really whacked out characters that are in a really complex web of social obligation, political intrigue and a very messed up set of murders to investigate as a type of mystery. Even the few stories he told me showed me just how much Gator had mapped out of all the group interactions and dependencies. Detailed and complete it reminded me of all the stories that Carl used to tell me about his Shadowrun world. What meant what to whom and how and why, and how pressures on one group acted on another, and where and how hot various hatreds and divisions were. There is far more than you can see. Social pressures were forces that couldn't be treated lightly.
I think that's why I've always loved role playing, the really, really good stuff has depth to it, a living breathing complexity that tugs at ones recognition of something Real to it. Something that can be learned from and modelled and played with.
I had fun telling him bits of the adventures that I've had with Sephar as well, especially play with Keely as Hitherby. The crazy adventures of the two Kyriotates, inhuman each in their own way, and insanely capable in their own ways. It was fun to just recount just how much we'd been through, along with the rest of the In Nomine crew. I was also intrigued by how different some of the things Genevieve did were from what Geoff did and how they both worked with their own set of players and the setting in which folks played. Face to face is very different than online, yet both have their strengths as well as weak points.
Eventually Geoff wants to run a Blood and Silk game (latter Kindred of the East stuff) for me on line as that's where we have the most time together. It was reallly cool to just go through how he plays and what he does and where we might find a story and game in all that.
By then it was four on the clock and Mari had said that she'd show up with sushi about then. So we got a phone call right about then and she apologized for being late. Geoff said, "Late? You'd be early if you were here..." and then burst out laughing. We had completely forgotten about Daylight Savings Time. Oops. As had she, so she was running at least an hour late and when she'd called the sushi place, they were booked solid with some huge platters to do, so they were going to be later yet. So she said it would be at least another hour before she'd get here, which was good warning for us.
She arrived about when she said she would, and Mari is beautiful, fair skin, smooth hair, lovely face and she dressed sharp. Big black cargo pants, tank boots, black shirt with a silver ankh all neat and crisp and they flowed well with the way she moves. I think I liked her instantly as she spoke clear and crisp and as sharply as she dressed. Okay, the two huge platters of sushi didn't hurt at all, either.
They went into the fridge, along with her platter, as she'd wanted to meet
me and we wanted to talk a little and it was easier if the food was put
away safely and we could sit down. I also brewed some chrysanthemum tea,
again field style. It's another of those teas that likes some basic abuse,
like being boiled in the water for a good five minutes rather than just
steeped. The brew came out sweet and grassy and with that rich flower hint
of the blossoms. As Geoff put it, it tastes like water that had plants
boiled in it.
Anyway... it was fun to talk and listen and in about ten minutes of banter between Mari and Geoff I realized that I was going to have to buy and read, from cover to cover, the Vampire main rule book. There wasn't going to be any way I could keep up with the in jokes or even sections of the conversation without knowing some of the real basics of the game and the clans and how things worked and what the character references were. It was very, very much like conversations in the Nutshell with Genevieve and the In Nomine gang because half the jokes were game based and even when we weren't trying, we were comparing just about everyone with an in-game character type. Or when I am in a group conversation with the Horde and there are Shadowrun, Champions, Feng Shui, and even, more recently, a few D&D new edition references flying around. Yeesh. So I'm going to have to learn their vocabulary if I was really going to try and join this social circle to any degree. Since they had about three long-term White Wolf based campaigns going, it's pervasive. Not that I mind learning another system. It should be interesting.
It was cool to watch them talk, too. They're so obviously good friends and long time friends with a lot of shared vocabulary and an ease with each other that few people have. I liked that. They also had fun talking about all the other folks in their group a bit and it was fun to see the other take on things.
So she stayed for the mug of tea and when it was gone she decided it was time to get dinner home. So she left us with a mountain of wasabi, pickled ginger and two huge platters of sushi. Yum.
There was salmon, flounder, lots of unagi, smoked salmon, hamachi, several huge rolls some of which actually had pickled burndock root, and lots and lots of beautiful deep red tuna. Oh, wow. I dug in and happily ate and ate and ate and ate until I could eat no more. Had plenty of wasabi to clear my sinuses and the smoked fishes flavored many things. The eel was tender and delicious and I could pretty much have as much of it as I wanted. That was tremendous. There was even a tuna rose filled with flying fish roe, and Geoff generously said it was entirely for me if I wanted it, and I ate it blissfully.
Tigers like tuna best.
Eventually I could eat no more. Geoff gave all the leftovers to Chef Bob, who loved it. I'm glad that none of that was wasted. That's when Geoff remembered something. He brought out this gorgeous crystal tiger with gold stripes. He'd gotten it when his book Devil Tigers had been published and he had no real place to keep it. It was going to either be a gaming figure or get broken with it knocking about the back of his closet so he asked me if I had a place I could keep it. I got a bit wide eyed and said yes, have a good display place and I'd love it, but I wasn't sure if here was any way I could carry it back. He said that was fine and it could be mailed as well. So we tried, at first, to see if there was a good way to pack it, but there really wasn't. So he'll mail it to me when he can.
By now it was dark out. Not raining anymore, but dark. So we put on our coats and shoes and starting walking along the winding road in front of his house. Down the road as he told me stories about how the Aspects, as a group had walked down this way, all of them, even when completely drunk, obediently and automatically forming a single line as they heard the cars coming. I could smell the wetness in the thick air, mists rising from the valleys made the world soft, and there was wetness on the road under my shoes that made all the tires of the cars that passed hiss. The sky had clouds and the reflections of all the city lights, and there were no stars to be seen. It was warm out, almost too warm for my trenchcoat, but not quite. Flower perfumes, acrid green of new buds, and warm heady scents of new grass were all laden on the wet air. Spring was in the dark night air and it was good.
We walked down and then up and then over and up a small hill. At the top was the cemetary that Geoff often visited, and the view up there was gorgeous. A full view of the whole Pittsburgh city skyline with a river laid out at its feet. Mist filled the river vally and turned the lit city into something out of faery, glowing and gorgeous and as distant as a dream. There was, near the top, a particular grave that had as a 'headstone' the concrete reproduction of the stump of a cut down tree. Nearly ten feet high, it had all the stubs of all the arms of the tree, as well as the sliced off top, and Geoff climbed it, easily, to perch at the top like some fallen angel, brooding over the dream of a city.
Eventually we headed back, but around the other way, and when I commented that we must be near where we started, Geoff said that I had a good sense of direction. I have changed places so often, I guess I have to, but it was nice to have it noticed. We got to see his old house, the place he lived when he was a little kid and the house next door where the old lady we'd seen on the bus used to live. And, sure enough, we ended up at his house very soon after.
So I started packing to be ready for tomorrow and in the midst of that I found that I'd brought caramel corn, so, since I brought it, we made it and shared it happily with plenty of orange juice. Mmmm... Geoff pulled out all the bus schedules to plan for tomorrow. My flight was at 2, and I wanted to be there around 1 to check in in plenty of time, so that led to a 10 start time, given that I had to shower and given that they were going to be doing construction in the city and all the routes might or might not change given what was torn up and what wasn't. So we got that all planned out properly.
I'd also brought massage lotion, so I took a while to give Geoff a complete back rub with some arm attention as well. Not so much that my hands hurt, but enough that he was a happy camper. Muscles and resiliance of youth, he had very little tension left. I guess things have worked out well enough that he is relaxed about everything. That was good to know in such intimate physical reality.
I called John then and we talked through stuff, and Fezzik's foot seemed to be getting better. So we'd see how it went for next week and if we needed to see a vet. He was cheerful, I was cheerful and he had done lots of stuff during the day including moving most of the stuff from the garage into the newly finished basement so that the Passat could actually fit in the garage again! Amazing. We parted with the assurance that I'd see him at work tomorrow.
It was well past 1 a.m. by then, so we went to sleep to get ready for tomorrow.