OK, made it to the comic shop. Looked over what was in my box, and then noticed that he's having a summer sale...and D&D books are 60% off. He doesn't deal in gaming stuff much, so I figure he's just clearing more stock out of the way. Then, I see he's got a set of 4th edition books. At $35 a piece, I was not gonna pick them up anytime soon (truth be told, I was going to pirate PDFs off BitTorrent, most likely), but at that kinda discount, I snagged them both for $30....couldn't say no. With some of the things I'm hearing, I'm looking forward to reading up on it. 3rd edition never clicked for me, but 4th already has my attention. We'll see.
While standing there at the shop, I'm chatting with the store owner about the books when this scruffy-headed, unshaven, hipster type that I've never seen before makes some comment about some group doing a the "3.75" edition rules (I can't find much about this, but the short explanation seems to be that this is a project to update the 3.5 rules (which were already an attempt to update the less-than-stellar 3.0 rules) to a new edition that is not a complete deviation from Dungeons and Dragons, as the new 4th edition is). Call me crazy, but that sounds to me like it's time to admit that it's just not good, but that's just me.
I ignore him, and the store owner goes on about his business. I mention something offhand about the fact that some new changes actually impressed me enough to snag this, which means quite a lot as I've been doggedly running 2nd edition this whole time. He gets a slight smirk on his face and says that he ran out of books to buy (this is the way geeks establish dominance, by the way. Geek cred has to be snarked about and built up until one of you admits the other is superior, and the main way to do so is to mention how much further you've gone with your particular flavor of geekery). I mention that this is part of why the company lost money, because those of us that had been playing for close to 30 years didn't need to buy more books and aids, we made up our own stuff and weren't constrained by the books and rules (you can hear the geek-osterone dripping, can't you?). He pauses, glances at me (establishing direct eye contact would have been fatal for him, here, gotta stay aloof), mentions that, well, yeah, but the books made things so much easier. Without moving my eyes from the front counter, I countered with the fact that I never had a problem being creative, and never needed a book to give me ideas to keep running long campaigns for large groups, a subtle sneer in my voice that was undetectable by any non-game geek.
He looked at me, sidelong through his greasy hip haircut. His lip twitched with a response not quite formed. Without another word, he walked away. In all the time I spent in line, chatting with the store owner and other patrons after this, I never saw him again; he still had a purchase to make, his hands full of comics, so he must have slunk off to the corner opposite me, on the other side of the shelves where he wouldn't be seen, a lonely tear running thorough his artfully kept stubble like a pachinko ball of pure shame and degradation.
Or not, but it felt good to think of it that way. Greasy little punk, you can't fuck with me.