I got in trouble one time at a fabric store. I was bored and didn’t want to be there and had picked up a wooden rod used to hold bolts of fabric and accidentally knocked over a display of pillows, pretending that the rod was a sword. When asked what I was doing, “Lookin’ fer Bad Guys” was my somewhat subdued reply.
This had always been a theme throughout my life. Lookin’ fer Bad Guys was an excellent way to spend an afternoon for a boy. With Bad Guys, you never had to feel guilty about any of the consequences of the violence you might plan to wreak on their hapless lives, because they were?well?bad. (No, I never found any Bad Guys, but that wasn’t what it was all about. Lookin’ fer Bad Guys is about the search, not the discovery. It’s all in the PLANNING?) You see, little boys are natural engines of violent entropy. No force on Earth is more destructive than a five year old boy with a hammer and a screwdriver. But as they get older, society begins to teach them the consequences of their actions. Enter the Bad Guy.
If there were no Bad Guys little boys would have no one legitimate at which to aim their instinctual mischeif and violence. Without Bad Guys cops would have no targets of their Officially Approved aggression and millions of trustees of the public welfare would be beating up the slow woman in the middle of the aisle at Wal-Mart. And without Bad Guys the “grown-ups” would have no fall-guy against whom to use the Taxpayer’s Army, and folks might find a better use for their dollar, like oil-free energy and popsicles that stay frozen in your lunchbox.
So what makes a Bad Guy? Many times it is his own ill-considered actions. It’s easy to spot the Bad Guy when you catch him literally “red-handed” and still dripping with the blood of his innocent victims. But sometimes it’s just the mood of the crowd. “SOMEONE was gettin’ lynched that night. Ol’ Zeke was jes’ the first one ter try an’ run. Too bad he only had one leg?” As well, one man’s Bad Guy may be another’s savior. Sherman may have been the hammer that smashed the chains of the slaves, but we all know what the South thought of him. Hero and villain. Good Guy and Bad, it depended on who you asked.
Now in a game, such distinctions are usually swept by the wayside. A blackhearted scoundrel is a rotter through and through, and if you are Good and Pure of mind and deed, you are (frequently) perfectly justified in running the miscreant through for no better reason than the “LE” printed on the top of his character sheet. (Lawful Evil for the uninitiated.) Now to an outsider, this looks like a random, and rather horrible homicide, but inside the logic of the game, it makes complete sense. Dude was evil. I just saved all those babies he was on his way to throttle. I’m a freak-in’ hero, man.
Switch back to the fabric store, as one over-active imagination combined with poor impulse control sends a seven-foot tall pillow display toppling dramatically to the floor, never to commit another Bad act against innocent drapery-makers. The saleswoman stares, unable to make her assessment of the situation fit into any form of customer-service training. My wife angrily stalks over to me and snatches the stick out of my hand, asking the question she already knows the answer to?having been through similar situations in the past. “What are you doing!?”
I looked at my shoes and muttered. “Lookin’ fer Bad Guys.” She stared at me for a few more seconds as if unable to comprehend how this particular thirty-five year old man was ever been promoted out of the third grade?before contritely returning to the saleswoman and pretending she no longer knew me. I picked up one of the pillows to try and reassemble the defeated display. The cover on it was a slip, and if you shoved your hand into it it kinda looked like a medieval sheild?
I never had to go to the fabric store again.