The All-Singing All-Dancing Crap of the World

By Tom Chick

Trevor and I were at the second annual Star Trek Silver Screen Fest, watching Wrath of Khan. During the scene when Khan has a speech about being marooned on Caeta Alpha VI, some guy behind us was talking. Trevor turned around and went "shh," so the guy punched him in the mouth. Trevor showed his devotion to Star Trek by sitting there and quietly bleeding for the rest of the movie. I was worried the guy was going to punch me next, so I went to the lobby and waited for Trevor to come out after the movie was over. I mean, it's not like I was missing anything. I've probably seen Wrath of Khan ten, twelve times.

"Man, we can't let stuff like that happen anymore," Trevor told me afterwards. His bottom lip was swollen like a caterpillar hanging at the corner of his mouth. "We have to learn how to deal with these situations."

"You mean like taking karate or something?" I asked.

"I know something better. It's a club we can go to."

"What, do you mean like a health club, like a gym?"

"I don't know. I think it's more like a training seminar."

So Trevor and I ended up at this bar where he heard the seminar was supposed to meet. It was the kind of bar we normally wouldn't go to. Not only would none of the chicks have talked to us, but we could have gotten our asses kicked in a bar like this. What if someone came up to us and tried to talk about sports or motorcycles? We sat in the corner and drank Miller Lites and were careful not to make eye contact with anyone. We peeled the labels off our beer bottles to look like we were doing something.

At closing time, we noticed a bunch of people heading down into the basement. We acted like we knew what we were doing and followed them. There were about thirty guys down there. All kinds of different guys. Then one fellow in a red jacket stepped in the middle and said, "Gentlemen, welcome to Fight Club".

"This is it?" I whispered to Trevor, looking around the dimly lit room. "Aren't we supposed to sign in and get pads or something?"

"The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club," said the guy in the jacket.

"This must be like the orientation. We'll probably break up into smaller groups and get gloves and helmets after."

"Shh," I said to Trevor.

"The second rule of Fight Club, you do not talk about Fight Club."

"He's breaking his own rule," Trevor chuckled.

"Shut up, dude, you're being rude."

"Third rule of Fight Club, someone yells stop, goes limp, or taps out, the fight is over."

"Duh. I mean what is this, Fight Club or Get Your Ass Kicked Club?" Trevor said.

"Yeah, but I bet it's just like the losers who disconnect when you're beating them in Starcraft. You can't even finish a Zergling rush if it's that easy for the other guy to log out."

"Fourth rule, only two guys to a fight."

"That's lame. Multiplayer support for two players max."

"Fifth rule, one fight at a time, fellas."

A gentle chuckled swelled through the room. "What are they laughing at?" I asked.

"No multitasking?" Trevor guessed.

"Sixth rule, no shirt, no shoes."

"I'm not taking my shirt off," Trevor said. "It's too cold down here."

"I think he just means the guys who are fighting. If you're watching, you can probably leave your shirt and shoes on," I explained. I knew the real reason Trevor wasn't taking his shirt off: He's got hair on his back like a carpet and a beer belly in front from drinking so much Dr. Pepper. I only know this because I once had to help him in his changing room at an SCA event when the Velcro strap on his chain mail broke.

"Seventh rule, fights will go on as long as they have to."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Trevor whispered. He raised his hand.

"And the eighth and final rule, if this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight."

"What does he mean 'have to fight'?" Trevor stretched his hand higher, but the guy in the red jacket was lighting a cigarette and didn't see him. "What's this 'have to fight' business?"

The red jacket guy looked around and saw Trevor's hand up. "New guy," he said, motioning to him to step into the middle of the group, where a slab of cardboard was taped to the concrete floor.

"I'm not new," Trevor lied, "I was here last week." He gestured at his swollen lip, but the guys behind him stepped back so Trevor was in the middle of an impromptu circle of spectators.

I felt hands pushing me forward to stand next to Trevor. "Whoa, whoa, whoa," I called out, "Just a sec, I'm not fighting him."

Trevor is 38. I met him when I was in junior high and he was our DM. We thought it was so cool that he would take time out from being in grad school to run games for us every weekend night. I'll never forget when he was running Barrier Peaks and I made my Wisdom roll and Trevor took me aside.

"Okay, you can't tell the other guys because they didn't make their roll, but that thing you found: It's a laser gun. But only you know." Up until that moment, I had always hated having to be the cleric. Trevor and I have been friends ever since.

Trevor is one of those frail guys with virtually no shoulders: His neck slopes right down to the side of his arms. I helped him when he moved back in with his mother and he couldn't even lift the box with all his lead figures without me helping him. I could take him in a fight easily, but I wasn't about to do that to him.

"I'm not fighting him," I insisted. "He gets all sweaty. It's gross. I can't even use the mouse after he's been playing Unreal Tournament."

The guy with the red jacket leaned in at me. "How much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight? You want to die without any scars?"

"But I have been in a fight. Some guy punched Trevor at the Star Trek Silver Screen Fest yesterday and I was there. And I have a scar from when Mark Simpson knocked me off my sister's bike in third grade."

"It's only after you've lost everything that you're free to do anything."

"But I have lost everything," I insisted. "I had a hard drive crash last year. All my contacts in Outlook, my party in Baldur's Gate, the Quake level I was making."

"You are not your job. You are not the money in your bank account. You are not the car you drive. You are not how much money is in your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are the all-singing all-dancing crap of the world."

"I don't know about the singing and dancing stuff," I said. This guy was making me nervous.

"C'mon, dude, let's go play Soul Calibur," Trevor said, taking me by the shoulder. "We have two Jump Packs," he sneered at the guy in the red jacket.

"What's wrong with my khakis?" I asked Trevor as we left. "They're Dockers, I think. Can you see the tag?" I was trying to look at the label on my butt.

So that night Trevor and I went and played Rogue Spear on the LAN at the office where he works as one of the IS guys. Besides, we found something better than a fighting club. Next week, we're going to Frank T.J. Mackey's "Respect the Cock" seminar to learn how to meet chicks.

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