When I was little, I used to have a hobby which was aptly named “Running Around and Reading”. Technically, it wasn’t really reading, but it was kind of like reading in that it involved holding a book in my hand and looking at it for long periods of time. The rules of this game were fairly simple. I would run around the room while telling myself a story that was loosely based on the book in my hand. Occasionally, I would turn a page, and the idea was that I was supposed to progress through the book at about the same rate as if I was actually reading it. Some details changed over time. I used to ‘read’ out loud, but I eventually decided that was a little awkward and I got into the habit of thinking the words instead of actually saying them. Originally, any place in the house would work, but later I confined ‘running around and reading’ to my bedroom. At some point, I realized that the book was in fact unnecessary, and so the game changed into pacing around my room and making up stories in my head, which is something I still do every now and then. The rules are a little less formal than they used to be, but I don’t like to just randomly daydream; my daydreams need to be structured and planned ahead of time.

Another one of my favorite pastimes when I was little was paper doll beauty contests. I’ve always loved paper dolls, but for me, playing with paper dolls didn’t just mean putting paper clothes on them. I had a few paper doll sets that had specific games associated with them, usually involving complex methods for deciding which dress was my favorite, but the funnest and most absurdly time-consuming game was when I took out every paper doll from every set, put them in a big stack in order of the age I decided that each paper doll looked, and then systematically chose the prettiest. The paper dolls would be taken off of the stack three at a time, and in each group of three, one would be deemed pretty, one ugly, and one in the middle. After all of the paper dolls had been thus sorted, the ugly and middle piles would be set aside and the process would be repeated with the pretty pile. This would continue until there was one paper doll left, which would therefore be the winner. Then all of the other paper dolls would come back out and the contest would start over for round two to determine the second place winner. This would continue until all of the paper dolls had won and there weren’t any left in the contest. The full game could take weeks.

Sometime around the year 3 BC (Before College) I developed another pointless game, which was known as my “Dance Class Thing”. Essentially, it was a fantasy dance school, where all of the students were my own characters and I got to decide how good each person was and determine casting for ballets and show orders for recitals and end-of-the-year awards for my favorite characters. I actually had several different versions which were all a bit different, but they all had a few things in common. Every year would start with a chart showing all the dancers at the school with information about things like their age, what classes they were in, and numerical values that served as an easy reference for remembering which were the most talented ones. I also liked to use a system where characters would win points for various achievements, like dancing a major role, and these points would gain interest over the years. When a character graduated, the number of points they had accumulated would show how awesome they were. Incidentally, I have never heard of a real dance school doing anything like that, and I’m not sure it would even be such a great idea in real life. Depending upon how much time I spent on it and various other factors, a year in my ‘dance class thing’ could take anywhere from a few days to a couple months. This game took up a lot of paper. My first version needed a new notebook for each year, and my last version filled three three-ring binders with 20 years’ worth of charts and lists. All of these documents were written in my smallest possible handwriting in order to save space, so I made them easier to read (and also awesomer) by color-coding everything.

It probably goes without saying that, when I was little, I got very accustomed to people who saw me playing asking me what I was doing and why. My personal games generally don’t make sense to other people. Poor people; they just don’t understand how to have a good time.

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