Thank Grog It’s Firday!!!
I can’t believe it’s been a whole week since the intrepid Addicts Team was meeting (in some cases for the first time) in Disneyland! So…cool! So “pre-Eclipse.” So utterly kinda mind blowing to be a live action cartoon character in a sea of humans.
No. I wasn’t dressed up in a Mickey Mouse costume, or flamboyantly flashing my dreadlocks in a “Jack Sparrow” getup. For this little dance on the side of “being you…while playing someone else…mostly…” I was actually dressed in my “CrankyOldGuy” uniform, as I call it these days.
I had worn it, as to be “easily recognizable” for any group Addicts pictures…and had left it on, out of convenience. And that’s when things got kinda weird, and cool, and fantastic…
Deb (aka the love of my life, my better half, she who keeps me from screaming at people who have harnesses on their kids), and I had decided to wander off in the park a bit on our own, as we weren’t as into “California Adventure” as the others. Call me old-fashioned (wouldn’t be the first time), but when it comes to Disney, I am OLD school. My favorite ride? Pirates of the Caribbean. Next favorite? Thunder Mountain. Next after that? Storybook Land Canal Boats.
That’s right. Storybook Land.
As I have said on numerous occasions, I am a huge fan of model railroads and miniatures in general. The modelers of the amazing recreations of favorite children’s stories in Storybook Land are breathtaking in detail. Who doesn’t love to see one’s favorite childhood memories coming to life?
The Wind in the Willows is still one of my favorite childhood books…and the “imagineers” at Disney got Toad Hall just right.
But…it was while we were standing in line for Storybook Land, that something just a bit magical, fun, and a tad strange happened.
As we were inching forward toward the next gap in the line, I felt a tug on my shoulder. As I turned, a young man (OK…so at my age, almost everyone is younger than me), said, “Uhm…I know this is weird…but, are you that blogger from TSTO?”
I was taken aback. Really. The official “meet and greet” wasn’t scheduled until the next day at Universal Studios, so I assumed that he was there for that event, and like us, had decided to wedge Disney into the plans. But, no… you know what they same about the word, Ass-U-Me…right? As it turns out…Darren (his name is Darren), was actually just down with his family from the Bay area, visiting Disneyland…and found himself directly behind us in line.
And then it got funny… I was kind of shy, and taken aback…but then realized that I was wearing the “uniform.” “You look just like your pictures,” Darren said. “Well…yes…I am me…” I retorted stating the obvious. “So how long have you been following the blog?” I asked.
“For at least four years I think…but, my wife doesn’t really like me playing…she thinks it takes too much time out of my day,” he whispered that last part as he leaned in. I then looked at his wife…who did not want to make eye contact…but had that kind of look on her face when she meets someone who is clearly not to be trusted. Annoyed. Like, “put down your phone and stop tapping” annoyed.
So the conversation then turned to “what do you do when you’re not tapping?” And other kinds of casual conversation…both of us doing our best to “normalize” an obviously un-normal situation. As it turns out, he is in tech, working for a large defense contractor, which made me think of him tapping, while wearing a security clearance badge…making me smile to myself as he talked.
I found myself peeling off my “Cranky uniform” top…after I took a “selfie” with him. It was hot. I made that comment as I was still half cloaked by the garment…mumbling that “I never really wear this much at home” and that “it may be time to retire this thing…”
We all rode the ride in silence. In the same boat. But, to Darren’s wife’s defense, I realized that she may have just been annoyed with their youngest daughter, who was showing a seemingly irrational fear of caves. “It’s not a cave…we are going into a whale’s mouth!” her older sister offered. Not helping.
As we were walking away from the ride afterward…I turned to Deb and said, “that was wild…that really caught me off guard. I think his wife hated me.”
Deb laughed…and said, “your first real celebrity sighting experience…and it turns out to be YOU! And no…she didn’t hate you…she was just put off by the obvious bro-mance between you two.” Also not helping….
I thought about this most of the day…recounting it to the other Addicts as we joined back up for the amazing “Electric Parade” later that evening. And what I realized, is that I was humbled, and kind of awed that two people…in a huge world of billions of people…came together at a very random place…at a very random moment…to laugh about how we played TSTO (Darren admitted that he has become a bit of a “plopper” in his town, since there is so much content now).
And we shared something else in common…neither of our wives play the game. And yet…we are united in our love of TSTO, building things (he also admitted to liking the Sims City aspect of TSTO) and doing so, even when it makes us feel silly to admit in the bright of day, on a children’s ride.
The world can use some “silly” these days. And a little bit of magic…
The experience was both silly and magical…and made me realize that the words we share here are going out into the ether, and into people’s lives across the globe. It isn’t just a random, meaningless, futile attempt to connect…because, we actually connect. People care, and pay attention.
Darren asked about our daughters…and knew all about them…because I take the time to share the information with our TSTO family. And while, I will clearly not be invited to Darren’s house for Thanksgiving dinner…I can take some solace in the fact that we have a great deal for which to be thankful.
Darren’s young family was so happy…and normal…and completely immersed in the “happiest place on earth” that the troubles of our modern existence seemed eons away.
Thanks Darren. It was really cool…even though I probably seemed embarrassed. And it made me think that there are likely all sorts of “tappers” in the world, who just walk by one another without realizing that they are doing so…unless one of them is wearing a “uniform.” Kinda cool…and made me keep the uniform nicely folded for the next “meet up.”
The next day, we had a chance to hook up with a handful of TSTO fans who were more of the hardcore followers types (who had to pay the steep price of admission to Universal, just to sit and chat face to face.) They made us all feel welcome, and at home, in the recreational mecca of Moe’s Tavern. It was wonderful…and fun…and strangely normal. We are…after all…just tappers, like everyone else. Right?
And there…one of my longest-term TSTO Friends, someone who has been with us from the beginning, and is a huge, regular supporter of our work in Buyijja…was Fred. Dear old Fred. The embrace when we met was genuine…it was a true pleasure to finally meet in person.
And true to form…when I asked Fred to stop for a picture…ever the actor that he is in real life, he gave me a “I’ve had too many Flaming Moes” look that is priceless. (and no…the more I look at it, it wasn’t a Steve Bannon just resigned look-alike). It was Fred…being Fred! So cool….
And of course, being Fred, He asked about the latest Buyijja project…and dutifully donated when he got home. Good man, that Fred!
So now you…as part of the wider global community can be JUST LIKE FRED…and help us reach our next goal for the Fall School Supplies. More on this later…
The internet is an amazing tool for connecting with people…but nothing beats “live and in person”…even when you least expect it!