Saturday, February 27, 2010

My NERF Rifle

I was trying to think of something to write about, but was drawing a blank. There is only so much a person can write about Lynda Carter or online poker before crossing over into the “crazy loner” category. And I don’t think work would appreciate it if Lynda Carter’s lawyers served me with a cease and desist order. Instead, I’m going to tell the story of how I got my Nerf rifle.

I start my story, as always, by blaming my coworkers. They gave me an issue of Geek Magazine for my birthday a couple of years ago. The magazine is a celebration of video games, comic books and science fiction. Somehow, this periodical has been able to condense my life to a series of four-color pages and $5.00 cover price.

I pick up an issue every once and a while. You never know when I feel like my nerd reservoir is running low. One issue I picked up had a contest that you had to write; in fifty words or less, why you needed a NERF Recon CS-6 Rifle. What? A writing contest! Unusual prizes that serve no purpose in my life! The ability to lord the accomplishment over others! Is there a sign up sheet? So, I got a submission together and emailed it in.

As with anything I do on a lark. It had left my mind as soon as I had finished it. I had other things in my life to worry about. All that online porn wasn’t going to download itself you know. So, it wasn’t until a couple of months later that this all came back to the forefront of my life when the magazine contacted me.

I thought it was a put on a first. Things like this don’t happen to me. But this time it did. The Nerf rifle showed up without any charge to any of my credit cards. I checked statements, even though my number was never asked for. I had to brag to some, so I sent the following email to my coworkers. I have edited out their names, and mine, but not to protect the innocent. I have a fear of retribution. I wrote:


For my birthday last year, you guys got me an issue of Geek Magazine. It had everything geek and nerd related that I enjoy, so I pick up the occasional issue. The last one that I picked up had a contest in it. In fifty words or less explain why you need a Nerf Recon CS-6 Rifle. In a three or four drafts, I had my response and emailed it in. I wrote:

I need the Nerf N-Strike Recon CS-6 because I am waging war with the pressures of maturity and responsibility. My inner child is woefully under armed to deal with the onslaught of meeting the daily grind of meeting the bus, making deadlines at work and home life.

Pretty good, even if I am blowing my own horn. As for the magazine, I brought it to work and [it was shipped] to the Middle East [for the troops]. I forgot all about it until the first of the month. I got the following email:

Congratulations, you've won a NERF Recon CS-6 Rifle from Geek Monthly!

Email me the address where you would like it shipped and we'll get it in the mail to you.

Have fun, and don't put your eye out.

-- Marcus Alexander Hart

Senior Editor, Geek Monthly

The thing arrived today via UPS and it is Christmas morning in October. The funny thing is how ironic this all is. If you re-read what I submitted, you can tell it is a load of crap. My inner child is so well fortified that maturity is on the losing side in this battle. In a couple of minutes, I am going to be shooting at walls, the TV and some action figures.

If you don't know what a Nerf Recon CS-6 is, here is a ten your old to explain it to you.

Now if you will excuse me, I must go pacify the living room with foam bullets.

See you tomorrow,


It was like any new toy. You loved it. You played with it constantly. You hold it constantly. But after a while, you realize that your life is the same. You stumble at your attempts for promotions at work. Talking to strangers is still hard. Shocking as it sounds, a NERF Recon CS-6 Rifle is not the panty dropper you think it is. In fact, women think it’s kind of creepy that an adult male is obsessed with toys. For me though, it makes me happy. Every once in a while, I get it out and fire off a clip or two of foam bullets. Once the wall has been subdued, I collect everything and put it back. Happy memories don’t need to be ruined by the real world.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Death Grip on Third Place

I have found a new use for Facebook. Sure, I am still waiting for Lynda Carter to enter my life like vesper, but my online friends have shown little initiative in this project. Disappointment fills my life. To hold off the misery, I have found online poker.

It’s a perfect distraction for me. It requires some thinking, a little bit of strategy and spending of money. Sure, the money isn’t real, but it causes a slight twinge in the area that handles financial responsibility and the game has established a value to it, so it has to be worth something.

Understand? Probably not, since it doesn’t make that much sense to me either.

The thing is that I never realized how competitive I am. With a couple of friends already in the game, I used them as a barometer of my progress. If I fell behind their chip count, I was not doing as well. If I moved ahead, everything was fine. It’s not a very good measure of self worth, but it is what I use sometimes, the unreasonable comparisons.

My coworkers noticed I was playing. (I was posting my wins, i.e. bragging, on Facebook.) One co-worker joined and seemed to enjoy the social aspects of the game more than the game itself. She thought it was funny that I ignored buddy requests when she accepted what seemed to be any friend request that was thrown her way.

Another coworker suggested that I make a friend request to her boss, also in the building where I work. He plays poker and said that I could play a couple hands with him if we are ever online together. And Facebook is the place to make friends, isn’t it? I decided that the next complete stranger that sends a buddy request would be accepted. It wouldn’t matter from what corner of the world, language spoken or background. That lucky person would be my new friend.

With these two new additions, I am now in a permanent third place, fighting off fourth. My coworker’s boss has about seven times as many chips as I do. The unknown friend is nearly double of my coworker’s boss. The coworkers that were in the game are good players that don’t seem to roll over easily. One coworker seems to have better luck than I and is constantly circling, like a shark looking for weakness.

My self-worth, by the way, is in hiding somewhere. If you need me, I’ll be in a fetal position in my closet.