how about that stranger things? if you're one of the six people who haven't seen it yet, worry not, no spoilers here so don't sweat reading on.
the show is crazy well-done. the story. the mood. and particularly for season two, the music. it is doubly poignant for me as i was the same age as the characters in the time it was set. i may have also, like the characters, been on the edges of the 'cool-set' through those years. doubting me. i had the same schwinn 5-speed with the banana seat a few of the characters rode, only mine sported a FLOWERED banana seat. AND i may have spent more than one elementary lunch time working on a dungeons & dragons (D&D) campaign map or two back in the day.
curiously, for all of the interesting questions the show has raised about growing up in the 80's, my boys asked lots and lots of questions about D&D. after repeated volleys i told them i thought i still had some of my old gear in the basement. anthony asked if he could see it. i said i'd look for it later. then he asked again. and then again. on the third or fourth ask, i clapped my hands on my knees and said, "you know anfer, i think i know exactly where it is so lets go grab it now."
both boys followed me down. as seems to be the case with everything i ever try to find in my basement, it is usually behind everything else in the basement. i for real could see the box i wanted long before i could reach the box i wanted. but i miraculously extricated it from its bin. it was my own 1982-issue D&D starter set. it still had the original pamphlets inside that both described how to play the game and a sample campaign.
it also had maps i had drawn, when i was probably alex or anthony's age (14 and 11 respectively) or likely somewhere right between. there were also the quirky every-sided dice and even some pewter figurines, a few of which i had painted. i still vividly recall the painstaking care i took in the painting of those and the joy it brought (and now i completely covet the thousands of guilt-free hours at my disposal to spend on things like hand-painting miniature pewter figurines back then -- utopia is real and accessible).
i said little as the boys passed the contents of the box back and forth in a demeanor that might make one think they were handling tut's own personal childhood artifacts. they'd occasionally ask me what something was or nudge the other, saying "alex/anthony, look at this".
anthony later returned to the box which sat on my workbench and began reading the somewhat thickish rules book. a few days after that on a event-free sunday i told him that for our dad hour we should walk up to the gaming store by our house and see if they have any updated materials. he said what he had was fine. i said what he had was forty years old and there may have been some changes and advances. we took a lovely morning stroll and they for sure had the exact same thing i had but in a modernized format. anthony has been devouring the rule book since. i've even caught alex reading it on the few occasions anthony has set it down.
so for all the enjoyment i got out of stranger things, the biggest factor for me was creating this joint experience i can share with my boys. i see a weekend-long D&D campaign or two in our future and honestly don't know who is giddier about that, me or my boys.