Why Zaboo Knows My Name
by Man vs Stairs
“The fact that people are friends because of The Guild and fostering that community and being a part of it . . . is much more rewarding than all that external stuff.” – Felicia Day, ‘How to Build a Con’ Bonus Feature, The Guild Season 5 DVD
I’m really not much given to hyperbole (except occasionally for the humor in making dramatically insane statements), but I think the web series The Guild may have saved my life. Before I can tell you just how that happened, I have to tell you where I was before…
My father died in December of 2010. Quite to my own surprise – as we had never been close – his passing pushed me into a fairly morose state-of-mind that persisted for months. Even now, a couple years out from the event, it is hard for me to understand why the death of a virtual stranger was so hard but I tend to think it was because it finally closed the book on our strained relationship. His mind had decayed enough in the last years of his life that I rationally knew there was never going to be some massive denouement of our problems but his death certified my general feeling as fact. The old man was gone and we never really understood one another for a single moment.
My father’s mistakes in life and my own are almost certainly what molded me into who I was – an occasionally amusing and sarcastic semi-misanthropic man who had settled into solitude like a person with a warm blanket on a cold night. My college friends were scattered about the U.S. and of all of them, I was pretty much the only one who seemed committed to bachelorhood. Sure, I had the occasional sticky fumbling here and there but I had realized a long time ago that I personally never liked feigning interest in a woman just so I could have sex with her. Yes, I went through my idiot frat boy phase in my twenties where I tried to be my own private Spur Posse and mostly just hurt a lot of people. I absolutely wanted to connect with someone but it just seemed like the alchemy was never quite there and so I sat aside the chemistry set.
The thing is…I can be charming. Part of the reason my over-the-top flirtatious nature developed is because I found that if I applied it sparingly, some women took it more seriously than I ever intended and I’d find myself in the regrettable position of having to explain that I just wasn’t interested in them romantically. And while this certainly happened less and less as I grew older and fatter, I can attest that sometimes a little bit of charm goes an amazingly long way.
So, by the time my father had passed away I had already fallen into what I can only describe as a deadly routine. I woke up, I worked, I ate, I entertained myself, I slept, and I repeated the process. I had a few friends as co-workers but none of them really shared my personal life in a meaningful way. My geek interests were there – I still gamed and read and watched TV and went to movies – but I did these things alone more often than not. Sure, sometimes someone would drag me into society kicking and screaming but for the most part I was content to be a solo act. I was the 40-Year Old Virgin without the virginity – though it was certainly in danger of being reinstated.
I discovered The Guild through MMO gaming and while I had come to it a little late, I had gotten caught up on it and had been following it ever since. My father’s death had left me even more morbidly self-involved than usual, yet it did also have me reflectively try to reconnect with some old friends and had finally drew me into the social networks I had previously avoided. It was only through that I ever ended up liking The Guild’s Facebook page and was in a position to notice that the show needed extras during the Season 5 shoot in May of last year. As it was mere blocks from my house, I took it as kismet and ended up doing two days of background on my favorite web series.
I don’t think I’m a shy person by nature but it can take me a little while to ramp up and I was sorely out of practice so most of my time on those two days was spent listening rather than talking. I had a blast but I didn’t really walk out of there having given anyone a sense of who I was as a person. Even though I was reconsidering my thoughts on human interaction, I was still too used to playing my cards close to my chest.
Thankfully, The Guild experience led some of the background players to form a closed Facebook group for the extras and while I chimed in here and there on various bits of geekdom, I didn’t really start to connect with people until a get-together at the Long Beach Comic Con in October that itself sparked a visit to Comikaze in November where I spent a day helping out Team Unicorn at their booth. The existence of the Guild of Extras got me to the I’m the One That’s Cool music video shoot and getting to know more and more people on set led to party invitations and that begat more social outings and interactions and even more extra work on Sandeep Parikh’s new web-series Save the Supers and culminated in massive fun at the SDCC. In just a little more than a year, I had changed from someone fairly content in letting life fly by to someone who wanted to fly along with it.
It is undeniable that within such a massive group of fans, different social circles develop. Some of it is based on geography and topography, common interests outside of The Guild, and that certain je ne sais quoi that defines so many relationships. I fell into my particular social circle of Guildies and while I’m not certain what I did to deserve these people midway through my personal game, I’m so glad to have found them.
I was on set for a quick shoot today for The Guild’s Season 6. While I didn’t know all the extras on set, I knew the majority of them and it is always a pleasure to fall right back into where we left off the last time we talked. The Non-Disclosure Agreement I signed prevents me from discussing any specifics of what I heard or saw but I feel alright in saying that it looks to be as funny as ever. And it’s pretty cool that Sandeep always makes a point to greet me by name.
After this reflection, I’m afraid it probably is a little hyperbolic to say that The Guild saved my life. I’m sure if I had missed that call for extras last May, I would have continued to plug along admirably with little to no idea of what (and who) I would have been missing. I’d still be here but I probably wouldn’t be smiling.
So, no, The Guild did not save my life…but it did give me one worth living.