Eric holds an end-of-summer barbecue called MeatFest, although that’s more and more inaccurately named every year. It’s still festive, I mean, but now that the group is not so much a mob of starving 20-year-old guys, there’s less meat and more summery salads, stuffed mushrooms, and other kinds of delicious. Our college friends still gather, as many as can make it, now with husbands and wives, and this year included the first baby. (Her parents call her the Trap Baby because she’s so cute and so good.)
I brought Harold, after warning him that uncoordinated volleyball featured prominently in the afternoon’s plans and that the Hoffmanns are my second family. He’s met most of my Massachusetts friends on other visits, and I was excited to introduce him to the rest.
Eric pointed me to the sangria, but told me to leave some for his girlfriend, who was on her way. (I was a little pleased about the sangria and a lot pleased about Eric having a girlfriend.)
We ended up drinking, eating, and talking games, as we usually do. I was reminded, again, how very much there is for me to learn. Greg teaches game development, so when the conversation turned to player archetypes, he pulled out the text book he just happened to be carrying… Grant mentioned he was starting a gamification class, and my immediate reaction was to ask him if he got an achievement for completing it. Grant’s actually the first person I knew who made his own RPG, years before the app store, Limbo, and Minecraft made “indie games” a widely-recognized genre.
We had the annual volleyball game, with more excitement and enthusiasm than skill or competition. We usually shift to a more cooperative game in which both sides participate in making long strings of volleys, instead of trying to score points. Some of the guys — including Harold! I didn’t see that coming! — also had the annual battle with foam swords.
As it got dark, we bug-sprayed ourselves and sat surrounding the firepit, catching up, telling stories and remembering other times.