The pods

One of the hobbies I've picked up along the way was Battletech.

I don't play the tabletop.  Hell, I don't even play the PC game.  None of those stupid copy cats like Mech Assault and stuff.  Grand Ole Battletech in Pods.

When my husband and I were first together, living on our own, we both worked in the mall, Memorial City Mall to be specific.  I worked at a place that's still around called Spencer's Gifts and my husband worked at Exhilarama, which was the old arcade place.  You can totally laugh about that.  We were married teenagers, working in the mall.  He was part of the distinctive team that worked in what looked like a small military-styled bunker, covered in camo.  He wore a (sexy) black jumpsuit, combat boots, and played on a computer all day - pushing both geeky kids and adults alike into giant black boxes, shutting a door, and immersing them in a VR setting of a pilot console controlling giant robots to blow each other (and sometimes themselves) up in pretty spectacular ways.  At this time, this was the cutting edge of VR gaming, with a whole slew of stars casting in the 'training videos', from Cheech Marin to Judge Rhinehold, and several other stars that were popular at the time.  

Fast-forward somewhere like 25 years later.

My husband finds this group in Houston called MechCorps.  I don't really pay much attention at first, but then I get to the point where, well, our kids are growing up fast, and I want to have other commonalities with my husband - things we can do together.  We've spend most of our lives together raising kids, so focused on it, that we have rarely had time to ourselves.  Before we know it, we'll only have one another, so ....kind of only good to have common interests, right?  

Firstly, I'm not a sci-fi person at all.  Really. I think that might have to to with the technobabble which comes along with it.  Some people really dig that kind of thing, and speculate on how to create it for reals (think about this...remember when Star Trek the next generation debuted?  They walked around...doing their work on hand-held tablets....now we have a whole generation of zombies...doing work and games...on handheld tablets...).  I was more engrossed by stories than anything else.  So beating around that bush, the idea was that I went because I wanted to spend time with my husband, I really didn't give too much of a shit about the game itself.

Um, truth be told, really....I still don't.  I can't tell you the difference between the Madcat and Timberwolf (aren't they the same mech?  Depending on what side of the alliance you're on, right?  Freeborn or canned, I can't remember which).  Or how many chassis the game offers (but I think there's 172 variants?).  Hell, I can't even remember how to unjam the guns and missiles when you're sitting in the cockpit.

But I still went with him, and I found something even more cool than the game itself.

I found the people that run it.

This game runs about every Saturday night from 6 pm to midnight.  They generally announce when they're open and when they're not in town, but that's part of the fun of being in the MechCorps crew.  We were there a lot.  We learned about the way the system was set up (probably more the husband than me, I learned more of the gruntwork of moving and setting up), and the nights that MechCorps was closed, generally, it was because either they couldn't find someone to run the game or they were out of town for the conventions they go to.

Yeah.....these guys tour.  Like damn rockstars.....

So in hanging out with these people, learning about them, getting to know them and how awesome they are, we volunteered to help out with conventions.  They gave us 'easy ones' first, and then we started hitting the road locally with them.  It's kind of cool, because really, they need the help.  You volunteer.  Which means you help pack everything up, you catch a ride, you set everything up.  You work a 'shift' daily during convention and then you get the rest of the time to yourself.  They even put you up in a hotel (but be forewarned, they cram 6 people to a hotel room sometimes - you're there to work so it's barracks style sleep.  You share a bed or you bring an air mattress).  So...it's like getting to go to a convention free.

But the kicker is this: you gotta be a cool person.  You gotta be dependable.  And they gotta like you.

I think we were fortunate enough that even though my husband and I have personalities that are almost like night and day, they kind of found us interesting and dependable.

I know this sounds like a shameless plug for MechCorps.  It kinda is.  They're kinda wonderful people.

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