"Sorry Dad. There aren't receipts for trades and exchanges, all we can do is file a complaint if he got conned ..."
For the third time in my life, he interrupts me "That's it, though! That's what makes it more than his mistake. If he screwed up, I'd let him deal with it. But he wasn't stupid, he was being nice."
I was raised in a house of silver linings, so I grasp for the only one I can think of. "He still has his money-making monk, right? He can make it back."
The phone is passed back to mom "I guess that got narc'd last night"
"You mean nerfed?"
She laughs for the first time, breaking the tension "It could be super-soaker'd for all I know. The game changed something and it won't work anymore. We don't want to corner him but we want to know what happened. Would you talk with him?"
"Yeah, but over AIM. I can't understand him on the phone."
"Thanks Brendan, I'll let the mumbler know you're online."
I log in and send an instant message.
"Hey Bill, heard you had a rough run yesterday."
"Yeah, Mom and Dad are really disappointed. And angry at the internet."
It's a delicate situation but I can't resist. "Think they are going to write an angry letter to the internet?"
He sends a smiley emote. "It's not that bad, they missed the point."
"What do you mean?"
"I know I gave the gold away, I got the signets I wanted and gave the rest away."
"Yeah, nobody wanted to take the gold from me but I bought them gear they could use and made it a gift so they would accept it."
"So you weren't grifted?"
"Nope, gave it away."
All this hubbub over nothing? That was his gift, for him to use, not to give away. "Why? That was yours to play with, you know, to enjoy."
Almost no pause. "I enjoyed using it. We're able to do a lot more damage together now. Still not top of the pile but it helped."
"So, I came on to console you and you wound up teaching me a lesson."
"You're the one who said that the problem with playing games these days is nobody remembers what 'playing' means: having fun with friends."
And here I thought I was going to have to restore his faith in humanity when in one generous swoop he strengthened mine.
"/shoulder punch. You're alright, kid, but if everything is OK with the money, why are Mom and Dad convinced you're bummed?"
"I am. I found out that 'kraven' means cowardly. I just thought it sounded cool."
Brendan Sears is a freelance writer and improv comedian living in the Quad Cities area (on the Illinois/Iowa border). Drop him a line at email@example.com.