The other day I mentioned to our intrepid Part-Time Sorceress/Full-Time Wizard that I was the anti-Shelly.
After a few emails bounced back and forth, Shelly pointed out it's not exactly true. We both enjoy reading and like a good brownie recipe. That makes us alike enough to prevent an explosion when Shelly and the anti-Shelly encounter each other in the stairwell.
Why am I the anti-Shelly? She writes from the point of view that it's OK for a girl to be a gamer. I'm coming from the opposite direction—I think it's OK for a gamer to be a girl. (Or woman. Or person of the feminine gender. Whichever term you like best, substitute as needed.)
Gamer girl isn't an either/or statement. At one time, I suppose it might have been. Now, I think it's a sliding scale. If you can't guess, I'm pretty far over to the gamer side.
Somewhere along the way I became one of the guys, gamer subtype. Seriously. I was (and still am) far, far better at doing gamer things than doing girl things. I'd rather spend time in a game store than a shoe store. If you want another example, I've used my manicure set to prepare metal minis for paint. Works great. But if I try to put nail tools to their intended use, my nail polish always ends up with an FBI-worthy fingerprint and a not-too-successful repair. It's got to be dry by now! . . . Nope. So why bother?
Then I reached a point in my life where I wanted some changes. Was there more to life than being a game geek? I wasn't sure I had an inner girly-girl. Why not? Did I ever have one? Where'd she go? Did I want one? Well, how was I supposed to know if I didn't look?
And where would I start looking?
That's right—the spa!
The first thing I tried was a massage. Talk about a way to make yourself feel spoiled utterly rotten. Typesetter by day, MMORPG player by night—you bet I need my mouse arm and shoulder untangled once in a while.
Verdict: Definite hit. A case of intellectual curiosity totally paying off. Strong encouragement to continue experiment.
Next, I tried a sample package of a manicure, a pedicure, and a facial. This was the only non-fingerprinted manicure I've ever had. The lady who did the pedicure made the mistake of asking what I did for a living. Now she probably knows way more about Dungeons & Dragons than she ever wanted to know. And I discovered I did not care for facials at all.
Verdict: The mani/pedi is kind of fun and it's nice to be pampered, but I'd rather buy books.
Then I saved up for the ultimate in spa experiences—the makeover! The spa people dyed and straightened my naturally curly hair, which seemed backward. I also received a little bit of basic makeup training. To my surprise, I looked really good.
Verdict: Stacy and Clinton would be disappointed. My hair is back to curls. I may know a bit about makeup now, but I seldom wear it. You see, I don't want to get up any earlier to apply face paint. And I work at a computer screen all day. I know, inevitably, I'm going to rub my eyes and spend the rest of the day as my superheroic alter ego Raccoon Woman. And there's no way I'm going to pay that much for tiny tubes of paint and miniature jars of face cream on a regular basis.
On the other hand, when I decide to wield the eyeliner, I'm not flailing around in utter cluelessness anymore. This was a good experience.
My geeky stereotype is enhanced by the fact that I'm a total klutz. So I tried to learn to be more graceful. I've taken 24-form tai chi class three times. I've never finished it, for various reasons. And there was the bellydancing class which was canceled soon after I joined.
Verdict: Someday I'd like to try these again. Right now I have a weekly session with a personal trainer. Maybe I can't improve my DEX right now, but CON's not a bad alternative.
The most recent experiment began when my boyfriend (also a gamer) decided to go back to Civil War reenacting after a ten-year hiatus. I'd been a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism in college and I'd been to Renaissance Faires, so I was familiar with the idea. I tagged along to one of the events. I had fun, so I decided I should play too.
Problem: If I wanted to play, I had to look and act the part.
Well, I'm not the type that'd be very convincing as a soldier. I let my hair grow and figured out how to pin it up. I got two long dresses with all the trimmings, including a bonnet. I'm attempting to learn proper Victorian manners and how to move in a hoop skirt. My mom is teaching me to quilt. I've researched recipes and baked Civil War-era desserts. I'm going to tea parties, for heaven's sake. I'm trying to like tea. The little cookies help.
Verdict: Can I even come up with anything more feminine than this? Dress-up? Tea parties? All I need is a pony and I've got the trifecta.
All joking aside, I've never done live-action roleplaying, but I'd bet there are a lot of similarities. This is a pretty good equilibrium—most of the time I'm comfortable as jeans-and-T-shirt gamer-me, but it's fun to play a lady every once in a while.
And that's where things stand now. I'd say my quest has been successful. Even things that didn't work out have been interesting to experience!