“Well,” he said casually, sipping his beer, “I’m a writer. But I’m doing an anthropological study on LARPing. So right now, I’m in the research phase. Pretty much just LARPing full time.”
I’m sorry. WHAT?
It was the weirdest response I had ever gotten to the dependably benign introductory first-date question: “What do you do for a living?”
So when my date, Jason, answered with the above statement, I stared at him, briefly stuck in that awkward space where you’re not sure if you’re an idiot for not knowing what someone is talking about, or if what they’re talking about is completely obscure. I decided to lay my cards on the table, because I pretty much always assume the former, and I couldn’t even make an educated guess as to the definition of “LARPing” to try to play it off. So I asked the question that I now understand was a completely normal one to ask:
“Um….what is LARPing?”
He laughed. I was clearly an uncultured simpleton. And by uncultured simpleton, I mean regular human who does regular human things.
“You know, Live Action Role Play,” he said casually, as if that explained everything.
“I do not, in fact, know. No.” I replied. He rolled his eyes. Clearly my ignorance was driving this sophisticated LARPing connoisseur to the point of exasperation.
I don’t remember his exact answer to this question, but in the interest of making sure that we’re all on the same page, here is how Wikipedia (source of all FACTS) defines LARPing:
A live action role-playing game (LARP) is a form of role-playing game where the participants physically act out their characters’ actions. The players pursue goals within a fictional setting represented by the real world while interacting with each other in character…Event arrangers called gamemasters decide the setting and rules to be used and facilitate play.
Sooooo, in other words, this:
“So, like…you get dressed up and put on plays every day?” I asked, struggling to understand and wishing I had drugs.
“Oh my god, no.” He reassured me. “It’s not a play.”
Oh. That was actually the part I was sort of on board with.
“When you’re LARPing, you’re not performing for an audience. You’re playing a role — a consistent role— in a made-up society.” He went on to explain that he had seen some LARPers LARPin’ away in Central Park one day and became curious. He looked into the art of LARPing, and the concept fascinated him. So he decided to study the LARP culture first-hand and write a book about it.
“Little did I know,” he explained, with an air of sophistication that was completely uncalled for given the topic of conversation, “that I would become enthralled with the world of LARPing and want to pursue it full time. I LARP almost every day now.”
I had to admit— this was weird, but a) I like weird and b) I was kind of intrigued. I was genuinely curious how one goes from average layperson to LARP-junkie so quickly. There must be a cool story here— was he given a powerful role in the LARP world? One that allowed him to explore and discover a side of himself he didn’t know existed? Did he get to live out heroic fantasies that he always wished he could in real life? Was there some kind of latent therapeutic and psychological component to all this?
“So what’s your part? Are you a lord? A duke? A prince? A knight?” I asked, getting more and more excited with each impressive-sounding role I conjured up, temporarily forgetting that he wasn’t actually any of those things in real life.
“Monster,” he said, with a straighter face than anyone should ever have while saying the word monster.
“Well…not, like, a main monster,” he said, reassuringly.
Oh, ok. Phew. (I think? I don’t really know WHAT is happening at this point.)
“A sideline monster.”
“Should, for any reason, the main monsters not be able to fulfill their monster duty, I would sub in.”
“Wow, that sounds like a lot of pressure,” I stated, deadpan.
“I know, right?” he said, 100% earnest.
So you can guess how this story ends– he paid the check, we said goodnight, and I decided he was hands-down the most random weirdo I had encountered in NYC yet.
And then we went out again two days later.