I’m nerdy. And I’m a hoarder. This was bad enough news for my wife, who made the mistake of telling me when we met that she had a box of old Nintendo and Super Nintendo games in her parents’ garage. Most of them corroded beyond repair, I still kept them. She may not know this fact.
But my nerd hoarding is worse news for my son. Now, most nerds love to share their wares with their children; true, no one’s teaching their kids to read with collectible comics, nor are they donning their potty-training toddlers in “rare” shirts they picked up at Comic-Con. But many nerdy dads are more than happy to peel off a page of video game themed stickers they got somewhere, or make their kid the envy of his class by passing along a Super Mario Bros. rubber bracelet to them or a Nintendo hat. Not this guy.
I have a completely unstoried past as a video game reviewer. Nowhere huge, nothing impressive, though I’ve got some stories for you if you ever ask. But I was able to go to E3 – the Electronic Entertainment Expo (aka “the video game convention”) for about 10 years.
Ten years of…stuff. Buttons, hats, knick-knacks. Pamphlets and posters and pins and patches. I’ve even got a t-shirt for a console that never made it to market (the Phantom). I’ve got stickers for games I didn’t even like, that I’m afraid to stick on anything. In short, I’ve got a lot of crap. But it’s nerd crap, so it’s all neat to me. And it’s all in a box in my garage. It’s not proudly displayed. It’s not in shatter-resistant plexiglass cases. It’s in a box. In. The. Garage.
Fellow 8Bitr and former UGO writer Tom Burns and I were discussing this topic over e-mail one day. Since we both had attended fun-and-games conferences in the past, we both have amassed similar piles of stuff. In addition, Burns had turned into a collector of toys as well, while I traveled a bit lighter through life. As it turns out, while I keep my stupid hats and keychains in a Scrooge McDuck-like vault, Burns is letting his daughter swim through a sea of Batman: The Animated Series action figures. Reading about how he has emptied his coffers and simply given away all of his nerd treasure has given me panic attacks. You know, like someday I’m going to say “hey son, you remember the wildly popular Midtown Madness 3 on the original Xbox? Well here’s a keychain with its logo on it. Look that puppy up on eBay and see who’s going to be a millionaire.”
Folks, I have a problem.
To make matters worse, I joined Loot Crate (full disclosure: that’s my referral link). It’s one of those random-box-of-something clubs that you’ve seen all around the internet; you pay a monthly fee, they send you a box of stuff. You don’t know what’s in it until it arrives, and it’s promised to be stuff nerds will love. It’s essentially the stuff I was getting during the years I was going to E3; When a company has extra stuff after a convention like E3, PAX or Comic-Con, they sell it in bulk to a company like Loot Crate and they, in-turn, sell it to salivating nerds like us.
Recent crates have included things like: a tin Avengers lunchbox, a MegaMan air freshener, many-sided dice for tabletop gaming, and nerdy wall decals. My first crate included a C-3PO bobblehead and some Star Wars postcards. My son saw familiar characters and thrust his hand into the box, only to have my giant ham hands sideswipe his out of the way…
It’s mine. All of it.
My first thought when I heard about Loot Crate was “this would be awesome to share with my son.” So, my intentions were good. But I just know that the hoarder in me sees many nights of opening the Loot Crate and slapping my son’s hand away as I dump the entirety of it into some rubber tote on its way into the garage. Because what better way to share nerdy wares with your children than to make them wait many years until having to clean it out of your garage after you’ve died and they’re preparing to sell your old house?
How will that Super Mario Bros. themed energy drink taste in 2065? Please wear that Vulcan salute pin to my funeral. Moisten my lips with my Nintendo DS chapstick as I’m lowered into the grave.
I’m working on my hoarding. I’m working on letting my son have the things I’ve collected over the years, even if it’s all trash to most people. It might be trash, but it’s my trash, and I always wanted to give it a fair shot at burying me alive before I go letting my son have a couple of fleeting moments of fun with it before it’s all broken and I’m crying “why…why did I let you wear those novelty-sized, green Chicken Little glasses?!”
Softened by Tom Burns’ article, I let my son have the most insignificant thing I could think of: a little toy tank that was given in a promo pack for World of Tanks at E3 2011. Not 5 minutes after giving it to him, the front gun was broken off – before I was even able to explain to my son what exactly a tank is. No kidding, I was queuing up a video of a tank on YouTube to show my son what the gun is for, and suddenly, the tank was broken. I immediately got a blinding headache, and saw my future self, in my coffin, being buried in all of my conference promo toys.
This is a problem. I need a support group…or at least someone like Tom Burns crashing on my couch for a week.
My first step toward working on my hoarding: I requested the smallest t-shirt size when I signed up for Loot Crate. So I know if anything, t-shirts will go to him. Now, if I can only part with the other stuff. If you happen to see a preschooler running around with stickers on his shirt that hearken back to the days of the PlayStation 1, that’s my son and you know I’m making progress.