The other night Julia and I went to see Happy People: A Year in the Taiga at the Wilma Theater. The Wilma has two auditoriums; the large, “main” auditorium which is the actual theater part, and this very small, pretty dumpy, not-really-an-auditorium just off the lobby. We were in the smaller theater. Your average multi-plex goer would probably turn their nose up at seeing a movie there, but I like it. As we were waiting for the movie to start, I was reflecting on when the Wilma used to have two other auditoriums, I think, that were located downstairs. This was years ago at least; definitely in the 90s. I recall I only saw one movie down there. It was either Alien 3 or Alien: Resurrection. Not sure. The downstairs has been renovated since, hosts a fancy restaurant, and isn’t scary at all. But back then, all I remember is how creepy it was down in the basement going to the movie, and that I had gone with my cousin, Casey.
I haven’t seen Casey in years. He actually lives in Guam. We interact a little bit on Facebook, but not a whole lot. I don’t think there is a reason why we don’t, our lives just went different directions and we fell out of touch. That doesn’t mean that if we saw each other tomorrow there would be any issues; on the contrary, I think we’d get along great, just like old times.
Casey was a big part of my life when I was younger. He’s four years older than me, I believe, which isn’t a big deal now but is when you’re ten. When I was ten, he took me to the tri-plex theater in town where we happened to see Viva Knievel, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and a little flick called Star Wars, all in a single day. That same year we also saw the WWII movie, Cross of Iron. I was 12 in 1979 when we went and saw The Warriors. Excalibur and Heavy Metal in 1981. The list goes on.
We played a lot of games too, games I would list as all time favorites that he’s basically the only guy I ever played them with, like RISK. And AXIS & ALLIES.
Most important, though, was in 1979 or ’80 or so when he introduced me to Dungeons and Dragons. Our families used to visit on Christmas, and this particular year his side came over to our house on Christmas Day. He had the first edition Monster Manual with him, and I was transfixed. It seemed like the coolest thing ever. Turns out it was.
Wasn’t long and I was spending tons of time at his house with he and his friends. We would play epic, weekend-long D&D campaigns. I remember my first character (a ranger named Arathorn), and I can tell you where he died: In the classic Dungeon Module A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity, in room 18a, the goddamn Slave Pits. It was traumatic.
Eventually he got older enough that friends his own age were more interesting, and I started hanging out (and playing D&D) with friends my own age. We still got together now and then, he visited us when we moved to Seattle, and was a supporter of our music. But you know, nothing lasts forever. He moved on and found his success in life, and I’ve gone my way as well. It’s a common story.
Thing is, though, there is a lot I wouldn’t have experienced when I did if not for him taking the time to drag around his snot-nosed cousin. Things that I love to this day, and continue to find enjoyment in. For that, I am eternally grateful.