It wasn't always grim. There was some fun and games.
Steven and I did LARP, “Live Action Role Playing”, together. He wasn't the only LARPer that I played with, but it was a common pastime for us. We acted out movies like “Back to the Future”, “The Wizard”, and the game “Dragon Warrior” (known today, years later, as “Dragon Quest”).
We made this up ourselves. We'd never heard the term “LARP” and, when we started, we didn't know that it was a thing elsewhere and even in the news.
Nobody thought that what we were doing as negative. This is interesting, because it was much the same thing as the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing that religious leaders had started to condemn years before in what is sometimes referred to as “The Satanic Panic”.
Somehow, our community didn't make the connection.
Our parents knew that we had wood or plastic swords and sometimes plastic armor. They may have been aware that this was “playing Dragon Warrior”, which is what we called it. That's probably all that they absorbed.
There was one time Steven and I pretended to kiss when we were LARPing through “The Wizard”. Our neighbor told my dad and we had to explain it was just to be funny and nothing more than roleplay.
After graduation from FCA, I tried to keep in touch with friends, but most of them went to college out of the area. In some cases, they moved to live where their spouses had grown up.
Some of the friends that stayed in my area eventually joined Ray's circles. I saw this as Ray recruiting my friends due to a need to hang out with younger people as people his age outgrew his lifestyle.
I got together sometimes with whatever friends were available.
One fun group project comes to mind. The group included Josh Culton, Mike Baum, and former Darkstone Lightstone bandmates Brian Kiser and Stephen (aka Steve) Kiser.
We made a parody of “found footage” horror movies such as “The Blair Witch Project” (1999) which had more or less booted the genre.
Note to film buffs: “Blair Witch” was the trendsetter, but I remember seeing an earlier film at a local theater that was also a “found footage” movie and also the first digitally projected movie. That film was “The Last Broadcast” (1998). There were “found footage” movies before that one as well.
We went to the woods and ad-libbed everything.
Someone asked me “why are we out here?” I responded, “We're here to search for the killer” and made up a plot on the spot.
Different people borrowed the camera and pretended to see things or be attacked. We pretended to be shocked to find a wood pile, because “You don't find that in nature.” .
We pretended to find our friend Mike dead. Later, Steve pretended to find all of the rest of us dead at the end.
We constantly said fake curse words like “fudge” then bleeped them on the computer to sound like cursing. We also showed people moving and talking after being dead so the movie would seem hokey and unbelievable.
It was a silly exercise but a day that's nice to remember.