September 23rd, 2014

Macbeth the Usurper

1977: Micronaut Battlecruiser

When I was in the sixth grade, I saw a commercial for the Micronaut Battlecruiser and said, "I want that!" I think that I said that once and never said it again.

The year before, 5th grade, 1976, my parents had bought me some Micronauts for Christmas. I don't remember asking for them, but that doesn't mean that they weren't popular enough to buy, or that I hadn't asked for them some other time that I didn't remember. That's how childhood works sometimes. So that year, I got a Biotron, Photon Sled (with Time Traveler), Crate Cruncher, Ultrasnonic Scooter, and Hydrocopter. Annoyingly, I got no extra figures to go with it, which always irked me. (So let me rail here against the great unfairness. Rail, I say, Rail!) And even worse, I wound up with two Time Traveler features. I made it work okay anyway, especially as I had an R2D2 and a CP3O to add in.

Strangely, I don't remember any of my friends having Micronauts. There is yet another thing in my life leaving me with nothing in common with my friends.

(Incdentally, look at this bad boy. Talks about hung! I'm surprised this ever made it into the advertising.)

Fifth to sixth grade was a time of transition for me. The biggest changes was the my reliable playmate, Gary, had moved away. My parents were more at a loss about what to do with me as I had so few friends. And mostly, my parents knew that this was the last year that I would be interested in toys. They wanted to make this Christmas something nice. So, when Christmas came around, I found this under the tree.

Behold the Micronaut Battlecruiser that blew my mind. I had zero expectations of getting it, yet here it was. To get this thing, by itself, was exciting. You could pull it apart and rebuilt it in any number of ways. The battles that this thing fought in! I remember arranging my toys for battle in the bedroom, white against my overly red 70's carpeting, all in a room dominated by darkly stained wood and overly blue walls. (The 70's were not a tume of subtlety, but still less subtle than the 60's.) I made that end of my room a mess, which of course I had to clean up because I shared a room with my brother.

Here's the Battle Cruiser box in German.

That was my last big toy. There would never be a thing like this again. The year after that, 7th grade, I began my descent into Dungeons and Dragons and a near-constant state of reading fantasy books.

In the years since, I have bought myself toys. I purchased all the Micronaut comic books and read them, finally learning what the story was. I purchased other toys that looked big and fun, but having is not a thing for me. Having is an empty experience.

A few years back my parents moved out of their house and the Battlecruiser box turned up. It still contained my toys. At first, my reaciton was nostalgic, wondering at the playset and feeling some old feelings. That was rapidly replaced by, "what the hell am I going to do with this?" The box wound up languishing on my basement shelves. I think that I eventually gave the box to charity. Better, in my mind, that the toys went to someone who would play with them. Sometimes I want to turn around and undo that decisions, but I know that moving it along was best. This story is done. The last great toy of my childhood was last and great because it was last.

If I had any wish, it's that I had friends to lord this toy over, to show that I had the Battle Cruiser and that they did not.
Macbeth the Usurper

On Feeling MORE Out of Place at Cons Rather Than LESS

Thinking about Bronies got me thinking about SF conventions, what I once saw in them, and why I stopped going.

When I began attending SF conventions, I felt awkward and out of place, but not too out of place. Folks were having fun with the books and shows at hand, and that was all good to me. What I didn't find was "my tribe." As time passed, I felt less at home with such cons rather than more at home. I can go into many reasons, but the one that I'll focus on today is Aspergeriness. (Is that even a word?)

I think that the world of Fantasy and SF tends to attract folks on the Asperger spectrum. When my peeps over on a social network took an Aspergeriness test, many of them posted notable numbers, but not me. No, I was way down in the normalish range. And that is my clue as to why I felt out of place, of why such a place was not my tribe. The reason is that cons, with their higher Aspergeriness concentrations, provided a tribe for a scattered people. These people felt akin because for the first time in their life, they were akin. It is their very inclusion that left me out. I like the same things as they did, but not in the same way. I enjoyed the same passtimes, but not in the same way. I enjoyed jokes, but not the same jokes, and not in the same way. I had these loves, but not the same loves. So in the midst of my favorite things, I felt isolated. I felt that I had no place in cons. A cruel joke had been had, for the person out of place was me.

That's not everything of course, as cons are not without their vast reams of bad human behaviors, but I do think that it's a key thing.

As to who is my tribe, I still don't know the answer to that question. I've thrown bottles at that question for years, only to get lots of broken bottle.