Oh, you'd like proof of my evil? Very well. Here are some of the highlights. But I don't think you'll like them.
In a meeting with Simon Fuller, over in England, I say, "No, this is brilliant. Our country needs heroes again."
"I'm not sure how well it would go over in America," Simon muses, stroking his chin. "I mean, yes, my show is popular in Britain, but the USA's a different kettle of fish."
"Trust me," I purr. "It's called Pop Idol here. But name it American Idol, and everyone will swoon."
"Absolutely," I say, handing him the phone. "In fact, I've spoken to Paula Abdul and she's eager to unleash her unique critical stylings for you. She's very... eloquent. And I have a red-haired contestant I think you'll want to look at very closely."
I stifle a laugh. "Absolutely. In fact, once you hear him sing, you'll be Aiken for more."
Designed new, punch-friendly election cards for the Florida voting council.
After many years of argument, I finally convinced George Lucas that Star Wars was, at its heart, a kids' film, and that the next series of films really needed some comedic relief in the form of a flailing idiot.
Sadly, could not convince him to cast Pauly Shore.
I convinced Richard Nixon that it was a good idea to send his men to break into the Watergate hotel to check up on the Democratic party. And I was only three years old.
I suppose, at this point, given my long and storied career, that you'll expect me to say I was on the grassy knoll with a rifle. I was not. But I was the Babushka Woman, which explains why no one has seen her until now. (Go on, Wikipedia her. You know you want to.) That's correct; I am so evil that I appeared at the site of the JFK assassination several years before I was born, via the mere presence of my psychic force wanting to be around to witness history.
So evilness is who I am. It's what I do. And I'm about to tell you something that no other evil twin on this pathetic little site will:
I don't play Magic.
In fact, I think you're silly for wanting to sling cards with dragons and goblins printed on them. What are you, seven years old? Real men (and women) don't feel a need to sit around flinging "Lightning Hex" cards (or whatever you call them) at each other so they can pretend they're powerful wizards.
Timmy, Power GamerHonestly? I know my "good" twin loves this game, but I make fun of him all the time for it. He's a grown man, playing some idiotic kids' game designed to make him power trip.
That's just stupid.
And I'm not alone! As his twin, I watched Ferrett grow up playing Dungeons & Dragons—this was long before Magic was invented, of course, but nerdy games are nerdy games. I stifled sniggers as the "cool" kids at school taunted him for pretending to be a paladin. * They made him feel ashamed because they knew that D&D was for nerds, and nerds were uncool, and they mocked him for being different.
This was at its worst when he was a teenager, because you're still trying to figure out who you are then. One of the reasons that teenagers are seen as so rebellious—and trust me, as an Evil Twin I often use that rebelliousness for my own nefarious ends—is because they're trying on different personas each day. They're adopting different personalities every morning, shucking the old ones like a dead snakeskin, as they try to figure out exactly what the core elements of their personality are.
Are they kind? Brave? Bold? Loving? All those things are forged in the fires of adolescence, when you have to experiment a bit to find your limits. It's what people do.
So when he discovered that he had this longing for these fun games, he wanted to share it. And why not? Games are best when played with friends! And it came as a shock to discover that the "normal" world thought of his hobbies as something to be shunned. He went to share something he thought was pretty darned neat with strangers, and... it wasn't. To them, it was just stupid.
Yet they were absolutely correct to spend their days mocking him! Think of the arrogance it took for him to want to play D&D! There Ferrett was, in a world filled with cool, socially acceptable things like basketball and football and the hit songs playing endlessly on the radio and the latest cool trend in sneakers—things that normal people liked.
And here he was, reading crazy "science fiction" books that nobody had heard of! He was exploring games that nobody sane wanted to know about! Worse, he hung out with other dweebs and geeks and math slobs!
He didn't dress right. He had a funny laugh. He found the wrong things amusing, and people frequently misunderstood him—particularly in high school, when sometimes the peer pressure is so heavy it feels like it's going to crush you underneath it some day.
I told him that he was stupid to like those nerd games. So did others, who thought just like I did. That's the glory of society—we create the rules that tell you how to live a happy life! We have a whole pathway determined for you from the get-go, and there's no Magic or D&D on that path!
So we told him, in no uncertain terms, exactly What Sort of Guy a person is who likes childish games and silly cards.
At first it worked, thank the sky and stars. All the cool kids did make him feel embarrassed. He hid his D&D books at the bottom of his satchel so no one would see them. He tried very hard to fit in. He never talked about the things he loved, because he didn't want to be seen as weird. Who does, really? We're humans, we're social creatures, we like to be accepted and loved.
It was a good place for him to be. The whole point of society is that you conform! Having some errant crazy kid with his Magic cards sticking out and making things uncomfortable for the rest of people? That's bad.
He didn't stop playing, of course, that silly little addict. He kept at it. But he never brought it up at work because he didn't want his co-workers to think he was weird. And only if you knew him very well, after a long period where he vetted you and thought you might be okay, would he haul out this little secret. This tiny core of nerdiness.
That was good. If you have silly little affections for things like Magic or science fiction or anime, you should hide them. You're not normal. And normal is what you should strive for, you know?
Until the day it changed.
One day, he looked at me in a way that made me distinctly uneasy. He'd been going through a lot of changes lately—he'd started dating girls again after a long dry spell, and he'd begun to dress better, and he'd lost weight...
And he'd noticed that the jocks and the cool kids were still making fun of him, even though he was doing everything he was supposed to do.
"You know what?" he said. "I'm pretty sure it's not the D&D that makes you mock me. I think you just want to make everyone else feel stupid."
I sipped my cappuccino with disdain. "That's not true."
"It is," he said, straightening up at long last as if he'd come to a decision. "Even if I dressed like you did and listened to the same kind of music and did everything you wanted me to do, you'd still find some reason to make me feel like crap about myself. Because it's not me, it's you wanting to feel superior. I honestly don't think there's anything I can do that would ever stop your mocking me."
"You're an idiot," I snarled.
"Proof!" he cried happily. "So to heck with you. I don't need your approval, and I couldn't get it even if I wanted. I am who I am, and I'm not going to be ashamed of liking silly kids' games, because to me they're awesome. I like the intellectual stimulation. I like the crazy imagination. And instead of thinking about how it looks to other people, you know what I'm going to do?"
"I'm going to own it."
I lost him that day. He never listened to me again.
Oh, he's not entirely crazy. He's socially adept enough to realize that not everyone wants to hear about his D&D campaign, and so he won't blather on for hours about how cool his characters are. (Or that he has a Matt Cavotta painting of his wife's character in his office, and an original DiTerlizzi Planescape painting hanging in his living room.) And he doesn't walk around being aggressively abnormal, flashing his dark trenchcoats and dyed hair like an angered Goth bull.
But if you walk into his house, you'll find a shelf on the wall right in the dining room—out in the open!—where there are eighteen Magic decks and a pile of cards, right out in the open where anyone can see them!
Despite my best efforts as his twin, if you ask him about those crazy cards in the dining room, he'll smile. "Yeah, I play Magic," he'll grin. "It's a card game, and it's pretty cool. You wanna learn how?"
The damnedest thing is that people do.
When you're not ashamed about the things you love, you'll cultivate brothers in the oddest of places. When you speak up, you'll stumble across people in the craziest of situtions who bond with you because they, too, love this weird little isolated thing that you do. So he's been attracting friends who think like he does! He's got a bunch of people out in Cleveland, so many folks to see and talk to that he often finds himself wishing for more time.
How can that be?
He's found a lot of people who also think in his strangely broken way. And none of them are ashamed, either! How in God's name can they all have clustered together to create the illusion of....
...of normality? It sickens me just to think of it.
Why, it's almost as if Magic really is normal, and the cool kids were just creating this artificial environment where it was okay to mock things.
There are still cool kids who think he's a freak, natch. There always will be, thank the stars. But he kept his promise; he doesn't listen to them any more. "You can't make everyone happy," he says. "Sometimes, you just gotta follow your love."
Pack's DisdainHappily, I look around and see a bunch of people who are still embarrassed. In high schools and colleges everywhere, there are people who are still hemming and hawing when they're asked about Magic cards. They're changing the subject when their co-worker asks them what they're doing that weekend because they're headed to a PTQ and don't want to explain it. They're hiding their decks in the back of the closet at their college dorm because they don't want their dates to see it.
They don't want to talk about it because they don't want people to know how weird they are. A lot of the times it's Magic, but it doesn't necessarily have to be—sometimes it's their adoration of steampunk, sometimes it's their love of the Society for Creative Anachronism, sometimes it's just a happy affection for Harry Potter fan fiction.
Don't ask, don't tell.
And to that, I say, "Good." Keep it stuffed down. Don't share. Don't convince the world it's a weirder place than it is, because every time you come out and explain to some "normal" folk what this odd little hobby of yours is, it makes the hobby seem a little more normal—after all, they now know someone who does it—and it makes you into the kind of person who's not afraid to love whatever the heck it is you love.
And who wants that? Be normal. Fit in. Change yourself to fit the world's mold.
It's easier for me that way.
Ferrett's Evil Twin
* – Even he admits they had something of a point. You know what his paladin with the +5 Holy Sword and the Invulnerable Coat of Arnd was named? "Delvin Goodheart." Puh-leeze.