A random memory flashed into my mind a few minutes ago, from about 10 years ago. It was the middle of my 3rd year in high school. My best friend and I had just taken up a card game called Magic: The Gathering, an obsession that would eventually see me spending over PhP60,000 pesos (over a thousand dollars) over the course of the next 3 years.
We were sitting in a quaint restaurant along Katipunan called Chinoy’s, where all the older players gathered in the late afternoons. We didn’t dare play against any of them, because they were far more experienced and had a penchant for using all these elite cards that we had, till that point, seen only in magazines or behind glass cases.
So we kept to ourselves, casting our Sparks and regenerating our Emerald Dragonflies in our own little corner booth. Eventually (and I suppose this was inevitable), some of the regulars started taking notice of us because we were there like clockwork every afternoon. It didn’t happen immediately — some of them would look in our direction when we sat down, or nod at us when they passed our table, that sort of thing.
Then one afternoon, one of the friendlier players sauntered over and actually watched our game in progress. It was a weird feeling, being observed by one of the Masters, and my friend and I both sat up straighter.
The details of the game are vague now, but I do remember exactly how it ended:
I had one of those gold Dragon cards from Chronicles in hand, Chromium, which I had been sitting on for over 8 turns and would win the game for me when cast. I had nothing else in play apart from an Urza’s Tower, Urza’s Mine, Urza’s Power Plant and a Swamp. I tapped all of them for mana, gave my friend a big shit-eating grin, summoned my Chromium, and waited for applause.
Instead, the Master leaned forward and said, “You can’t cast that. You don’t have the right color of mana.”
My smile faded like a passing fart. I squinted at my cards and answered, “Here, it says ‘Colorless mana’ on these Urza’s lands cards, so I’m using that instead of the white, blue and black mana required by the Chromium.”
He tossed his head back and laughed. I think he might have even had his hands on his hips when he did it. He said, “There’s a difference between ‘Colorless Mana’ and ‘Mana of any color.’ Check your rulebook.”
Then he walked off, still laughing, probably to tell his friends about these two stupid kids who lived in their own private-Magic-dream-world, where multi-colored cards could be cast using a bunch of crap-lands.
My friend and I were silent for a long time. Then, without saying a word, we started packing up our stuff. We didn’t show up in Chinoy’s again for a long time after that.
I remember bitching about that “colorless does not equal any-color” issue for a long time afterwards, blaming the rulebook and ranting about how they could’ve picked slightly less similar names for two incredibly different concepts.
I guess it seems pretty trivial to the average person, but it was a huge deal to anyone who understood how to play MtG. It was the automobile equivalent of putting water in your gas tank … or masturbating to the photo of your first cousin … one of those analogies, anyway.
I honestly don’t know why I suddenly remembered all this today. Maybe it was a defining moment in my life, as abject humiliations usually are. Or maybe I just miss that stupid game.