Sitting in the basement of a precon gives one the feeling of living in a house with thousands of residents that you never see. Eyes pop out the corner belonging to a girl in Ohio and a man lifts weights in the corner from Alabama and an old woman enjoys jeopardy right next to you. Of course, you only feel this because the precon is not your home and because the basement smells of cinnamon potpourri. Everyone uses cinnamon potpourri because they’re too lazy to change it after they set it out for Christmas. Precons never have time to achieve any sort of individualism so the ghosts of the masses occupy their walls. Don’t worry, they’re friendlier than the ghosts of individuals.
Alex, Kim, and Gabe sat in a basement of a precon feeling that feeling. Or, at least, Alex and Kim did, as they did not live there. Well, Kim was staying in the basement for a few days, so perhaps he felt it less. One more inclined to cliches would say that they sat on the cusp of adolescence but I suppose I’m not that different than those so inclined.
Usually, the boys did not hang out at Gabe’s house. His parents were busy running the two pizza shops they owned and did not like Gabe having more than one friend over when they were not there to supervise, as were often showing some local teenager how to spread pizza sauce properly and didn’t have time to kid their son and his friends out of trouble. Even when Gabe’s parents were there, the boys did not like to hang out at his house because his parents were so radically different than their own. Gabe’s parents were blue collar. They drove trucks and had political views that ranged from dead-ahead to starboard. Gabe’s father owned a gun. They had new things but of questionable quality. Gabe’s father wore multiple paris of white New Balance sneakers that had varied levels of wear. Gabe’s mother was a tad too leathery. Gabe’s father only had a Bachelor’s degree. Gabe’s mother had no degree. They owned little, yippy, dogs. Around the new year, they would go to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis; a decidedly un-educational trip. They had no hardwood in their house; just linoleum and carpet.
But today, both parents took off and were working in the yard. Doing parent things like spreading Preen and throwing mulch around. Alex and Kim, having respective issues with their own parents, were glad to be at Gabe’s house.
Kim was staying at Gabe’s house while his father was away. Kim’s father was a world -renown cryptozoologist who worked at the local university. Kim’s full name was Kim Qui, which had to do his father’s occupation, but recently he begun acting like he didn’t know why his parents called him Kim. Kim was German-Welsh and was becoming more embarassed by his parents as he got older. He had recently thrown out his bird skeleton collection that his father had helped him assemble a few years before.
His father was away on a research trip with his colleauges, a couple grad students, and the very best of the biology department’s undergrad students, camping in the woods. Kim’s father would do lots of hallucinagenic drugs, listen to the entire The Eagles discography, drink whiskey from his water bottle, fornicate with the grad students, and mistake tree stumps for new, never-before-seen, megafauna hiding out in the Tennessee woods (it had occured in 3 or the past 5 trips). He would later return after this week to write a paper about his observations of the stumps mistaken as megafauna and have it published in Zoology vol. 115 or vol.134. He would receive a raise. I can’t give you specifics, it’s all vague and transitory, not unlike stories Burl Ives tells.
His mother, knowing full well what was going on, would invite the middle school football coach over for the week. They would doink like rabbits and then Randy - a proper football coach name - would walk out into the living room where Kim sat, and ask the boy if he would try out for the football team next year as he started 7th grade. The family dog, an aging yellow lab with blossoming flatulence problem, would growl and fart whenever Randy got close to Kim. Randy would give it a nasty look, then go make himself a huge bowl of Kim’s Lucky Charms - Kim’s favorite cereal, which his mother would only buy when it was on sale. The old lab would then look at Kim with a satisfied face, now that Randy had left the area, and bonk her fat tail off the floor. Randy would sit down with Kim’s cereal and try to make fart noises out of Kim’s father’s didgeridoo.
This is why Kim decided to spend a few days in Gabe’s basement. He’d take right wing politics over Randy any day. Actually, the only reason Kim avoided Gabe’s parents was because he wanted to avoid hearing his parents complain about Gabe’s parents’ politics. Kim liked linoleum and carpet.
Alex wasn’t there because he disliked his parents. Well, they got on his nerves sometimes. His father was a white collared attorney who specialized in divorice law. He was notorious for having epileptic attacks while at the bowling alleys (why do they have lazers at bowling alleys now?) or while ravaging the breasts of his housewife clients.
His mother was a drunk mouse who cried a lot.
Alex was there because all the boys had been playing the same MMO game and wanted to be able to talk to one another (they were yet to discover vent) while they played people from other realms. The video game that they were so enthralled with was known as Sartorrior.
Alex gave them directions.
“Alright, this guy coming up on up on the right is a “Streetwear class - Team Japan” so you gotta just kite him with your Italian wear character until he runs out of steam and then drop him with all your SoTs.”
“Swag over Time - do you even read the game forums?”
“I mean, a little.”
The boys played in the Team America realm and were PvPing other realms. Team Japan and Team Italy were the big ones to watch out for in this current game.
“Kim, hold still, I’m trying to buff your stats.”
“Whatever man, it’s not like +5 versatility really makes that huge of difference.”
“But, like, it’s still gonna’ give us an ed-”
“Team Italy is coming in hard guys. You guys just PPS and I’ll keep your action points supplied.”
“Ok, I got this - ‘PointsPerSecond’”
“No, dummy, PosesPerSecond”
“WHAT!? CRAP MY COMPUTER FROZE”
“WHAT CRAP I DONT HAVE ANY-”
“HEY GUYS I THINK I-”
“DAMMIT DAMMIT IM CLICKING MY ACTION POIN-”
“WATCH THE LANGUAGE” Gabe’s mother yelled from upstairs.
“Well, I’m dead.”
“WAIT DONT RELEASE I CAN SEND YOU MORE STUF- Crap, I’m dead too.”
“I’m restarting my computer”
“I don’t know if I want to play anymore,” Alex looked up from his computer, “Kelsey and Em just texted me and asked if we wanted to hang out.”
Gabe wrinkled his nose, girls were still a little foreign.
“I mean, it’s better than this game.”
“Yea, let’s do that. Sartorrior sucks. Why are we on teams? Why can’t we just level and try and beat a final boss? Wouldn’t that be a better end game than this?”
They left the confines of the basement to the smell of Gabe’s mom cooking brownies. The girls would have to wait, but not that long.