5 Things About LARPs and Hurricanes and Assorted Other Stuff
Posted by Alan Edwards
1. I played in a LARP two weekends ago. It was a different kind of game than ones I’d done in the past. The game is set in post-apocalyptic America where most of the population is either dead or Infected – like the “zombies” in 28 Days Later, fast and angry – and you are trying to get by and survive along with a group of other would-be survivors. It took place on a campground that had a replica ship, castle, and fort on the land, all of which were incorporated into the game as actual locations to explore and fight in. Combat was simulated using Airsoft weapons from pistols to shotguns to assault rifles along with “boffer” weapons – essentially replica weapons made with PVC and foam padding so it doesn’t hurt when you accidentally closeline someone.
I had a fucking blast.
One reason is that one of the players built me a boffer shovel, so I got to wade into the apocalypse swinging a shovel and having a good old time. I knew a few of the people playing in it beforehand and met several more that I’d heard about for a while and everyone was nice to the newbie. For 2 days I ran around like a demented kid shooting people and (more often) getting shot at (nice shot to the eye, Lori – and thanks for giving me the goggles before you did it) while dressed as a Mad Max-looking preacher. Seriously good times.
2. I went to a LARP, had fun, and the East Coast was immediately struck by an earthquake and a hurricane. These events are all not likely to be unrelated.
3. Speaking of hurricanes, I left Florida in 2005 after the horrendous 2004 hurricane season. I was sick and tired of the panicky morons running to the store to buy milk, bread, eggs, canned food, and 85 fucking cases of bottled water every time a tropical storm formed somewhere. Since they form like every 3 weeks, I always wondered what all those dipshits did with all the shit they bought the last time they freaked out and ran around like Chicken Little. And why is it always bread, eggs, and milk? Is French Fucking Toast some kind of arcane Hurricane Ward that I’m not aware of?
Anyway, last week I found myself in Delaware surrounded by people expecting a hurricane. They reacted exactly the same as the people in Florida did, but at least they have the excuse that it doesn’t happen very fucking often. I stopped at the store (BJs, to be precise) last Friday to pick up some stuff for a BBQ we were doing that night. This humongous freaking warehouse store was totally out of bread. How much fucking bread do people expect to eat in 3 days? Anyway, I didn’t need any regular bread, and there was a shitload of hamburger and hot dog buns around, which apparently don’t have Arcane Hurricane Warding powers since no one was buying them. People were running around like crazy making sure they had plenty of bottled water, which always confuses me since most people don’t drink water at all during the day. Coffee, sure, tea, yep, soda, definitely, but water? I drink the shit out of it and people look at me like I’m crazy. Since I had about 12 bottles of water at home I didn’t need that, either. All in all, though, people in Florida are much less rational about hurricane preparation, which is bizarre.
4. One other thing that was not to be found around Hurricane Time were battery-backup sump pumps, the things that will keep your basement dry when the power is out. My wife and I have talked about getting one for years but never did. So, if the power went out in the rain, the only way to keep our finished basement and beloved bar from flooding would be to scoop the water from the sump with a small bucket or big plastic cup, dump it into a larger bucket, haul the bucket upstairs to empty it, and go back down to do it over again until the power came back on. This is not an ideal backup plan.
But, when the power went out at 10 pm on Saturday, it was the only one we had. 2 5-gallon buckets and one 3 gallon became the carrying vessels, a 2-gallon or so bucket was one scoop and a 32-ounce Burger King cup was the other. My wife took bilge duty: she’d scoop the water from the rapidly-filling pit and dump it into one of the carry buckets. When the bigger bucket was filled (about every 30 seconds or less) I’d grab it, step carefully over the frightened dogs that insisted on laying in the pathway upstairs as an additional Degree of Difficulty, climb the steps to the bathroom, dump the bucket, run back downstairs, fetch the next already filled one, and repeat. No power meant that it was warm. In about 5 minutes I was sweating like a mofo. We did this over and over and over. An hour-and-a-half later, we’d gotten far enough ahead that we could take a ten-minute break, which I spent chugging soda and smoking a cigarette. Then it was back down to prevent the flooding all over again.
We did that for 3 hours. By my calculations, the sump filled at a rate of 1.25 gallons per minute. 180 minutes = 225 gallons of water put into buckets and carried upstairs. Estimated 4 gallons of water per trip, so that was 1,874 pounds of water carried up 56 flights of stairs.
5. I am seriously glad that we stepped up our exercise regimen 6 weeks ago. Otherwise, there is no way in hell we would have been able to physically handle that. I’ve had people ask why I work out so hard and lift all those weights and other weird random questions that I have difficulty answering. I guess I have an answer now: so that I can do something about it when my goddamn basement starts flooding. I have precious things to save.
Of course, the first thing I did when the power came back on was go online and order a goddamn battery backup sump pump. Just because I physically can do it doesn’t mean I ever want to go through that hellish experience all over again, navigating a goddamn basement and 3 dogs in the dark by candlelight with a 30-pound fucking bucket of water in one hand and a screaming back and tired-ass legs and a wife who’s forced to crouch in a tiny fucking corner of the basement essentially doing single-arm rows with 15 pound weights for 3 hours in a squat position. So, yeah. Ordered and on the fucking way.