Features > Tell Me About Your Character > Jerome Comeau

Your name: Jerome Comeau, aka Heronymus.
Location: Flyover Country, United States.
Age: 30
Sex: Male
Family: One Wife (Wife (v.2.0)), one son, Jasper, aka JAC. Several brothers and sisters, and I still have both parents.
Religion: Various, depending on the day. Mostly, I'm quietly self-centered with a touch of ancestor worship and a dollop of animism. I'm considering converting to Catholicism for tax purposes.
Political party/affiliation: I'm a Republican, but I'm an Eisenhower Republican.

Education: I finished High School and had a semester of College, before I discovered college wasn't really for me. My high school was an all-boys private school run by Jesuits, and for me it was an incredible experience in learning and discovering. Mostly about stuff, but some of it about me.

Hobbies/Activities: I'm an inveterate writer, and I'm enamoured of travel, mostly within the United States. I sing middlingly-well, and I'm a practicing sesquipedalian.

Just to test the stereotype - Have you ever lived, or are you currently living, in your parents' basement? No. But I did at one point keep all my stuff in the basement of a Commune I was part of for a while. I didn't actually sleep in the basement, though.

What is your favorite way to spend a weekend?
Relaxing. Frequently as is the
case with parents who have full-time jobs, Saturday is usually a chore-day, with
cleaning and running errands and whatnot. Sundays, for us, tend to be a day of rest.

Reading or going for walks, frequently going to a bookstore or library for part of the
day, with a slow, lazy restful afternoon and a big Sunday dinner to get us ready for
the week ahead. My perfect Sunday involves french toast, a really good book, hot
tea, and a blanket. In practice, I get between three and six hours on Sunday
afternoon to get my reading and relaxation in before the chores and stuff catch up
with me.

What is the most frightening thing you've ever done? Riding across the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge on my motorcycle, in the rain, in rush-hour traffic, with a bald back tire. Of all the really stupid things I've done, this was pretty much the top of the pile; motorcycles, especially lightweight ones like the one I owned, are notoriously skittish in the rain, and are mostly kept from falling over by the wheels moving. Because of the heavy traffic, the wheels barely moved at all, and since I was on the lower deck, the surface of the roadway was just wet enough to be slick without being wet enough to wash the oil and grease away. I've frequently been in situations where I could die; jumping out of planes, rock-climbing, camping, but this remains the one and only time I was convinced I would die. That I made it across in one piece is still a marvel to me.

What is your favorite word? I go back and forth on this one, but it's either 'incendiary' or 'luminescent'. Not just because they sound nice (though they both do sound nice) but because they both imply a state of being after the word has been spoken. Something is luminescent until it fades to dark; something is incendiary until be bursts into flame. The idea of words with time limits is fascinating to me.

What is your favorite time of year, and why? This is a tough one for me, but I think Spring is really best. I'm an Easter fanatic, though I'm not Christian any longer, mostly because I love the fertility rites inherent in the idea of Easter (which, of course, was named after the goddess Eostre, who was an Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility and springtime. The idea of celebrating the re-birth of the world makes me all giddy all over, the same way many folk feel about Christmas.

What is your most prized physical possession? I think probably the nut-bunny I got as a gift from a friend way back in high school. It's a bunny carved from a nut, and polished and laquered. When I was younger, I was a terrible packrat, keeping nearly everything I found or bought, but my first divorce succeeded in separating me from my worldly goods, to the point that I no longer think that actual 'things' are very important. I'm not terribly sentimental, anyway, so the drift away from possessions wasn't terribly difficult.

What are three things you can't live without? Music, writing, and caffiene. Music because there is always a song playing in my head, and living life without a soundtrack would be impossible to bear. Writing, because I read when I'm bored, or tired, or really when I have any spare time at all, and so living without the written word wouldn't really be living, to me. And caffiene because it allows me to skimp on the sleep. As a parent, sleep falls a distant third to kids and work!

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Physically, I'd like to magically fix my teeth. I hate dentists, but I have horrible
teeth, and I need a LOT of work on them before I'll ever be able to chew or
talk without pain.
In terms of personality, the only thing I really dislike is my
lack of memory.

As I've gotten older, I find I am more inclined to accept the foibles of other
people as well as myself, resigned to the idea that while we may like people
for their merits, we love them for their flaws. Without our flaws, people would
be quite boring, I think.

If you could have one superpower, which power would you pick? Indistructability, usable only on others. The ability to make someone else safe from harm would be the best superpower ever; it would allow me to keep my loved ones (and even lucky innocent bystanders) safe. The idea of being indestructible myself is scary, because I'd worry about being safe when those around me were hurt. This has changed significantly from what I would have answered three years ago; it might have something to do with my son being born around then...

What is your favorite mode of transportation? The "L" train here in Chicago. I've always loved trolleys and subways, but the El is the perfect transport system. It's a train on rails thirty feet above the streets. The comfort of the train tracks, the convenience of the subway, and the beauty of being able to ride above the fray and watch the City go by. I liked the Streetcars in SF, frequently going out of my way to ride on them, but Chicago's El line is basically my favourite.

If you could pick any other time period to live in - including the future - which would it be, and why? The future is unpredictable and therefore effectively like jumping off a cliff of uncertain height; I don't know what it will be like next week, let alone next decade, so that's out. Conversely, the past is knowable and uniformly terrible. I like my method of time travel: one second at a time, into the unknown future, for as long as I can hack it. Life continues to be shocking, surprising, difficult, and for all that today is still better than any period in history. I'll stick to now, thanks, and continue to be pleasantly surprised.

Tell us about your favorite RPG character that you've ever played. After a pretty hard noggin-crunching session, I'd have to say that my absolute favourite character to play (so far) was Larry the Lobster. Larry was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles character that ended up being 'ported to the RIFTS universe almost immediately, at which point I and a couple of fellow players broke pretty much every rule we could get away with breaking. At the time, we were doing it mostly to mess with the GM, who was shall we say neither the best nor the brightest bulb in the box. The fellow players, however, were marvelous, and we had a grand time basically messing about. Larry was the name she went by when dealing with other people, because most folk couldn't pronounce her real name, and she had a serious attitude. It helped that she was also nearly the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.

Larry, despite her dislike of all things human, was really quite sweet to her friends, and disliked violence unless otherwise unavoidable. Larry was an experiment as to just how alien I could get myself to think, and a relatively successful one: I've not managed to recapture my ability to think at right angles to everyone else since then. That may be because nowadays I'm often surrounded by people who are much smarter than I am.

What are your favorite RPGs? It's tough for me to pick one favourite; I have several that I like to "fall back" on, as well as a couple with which I am currently infatuated. My fall-back ones are HERO 4th Edition and GURPS 3rd Edition Revised, but my current favourites are Dogs in the Vineyard and Fvlminata. The former two because they allow me to shoehorn any setting into one or the other system with little work, and the latter two because they do an amazing job of matching systems to settings. For me, it's less about what we're using to play and more about who I'm playing with and why.

What was your first RPG session like?
For the longest time I believed that my first RPG session was in early High School, but I was reminded not terribly long ago that I was in fact introduced to gaming significantly before that. My first experience with gaming turned out to be when I was six or seven, when I was being babysat by my elder sister and her boyfriend and I was taken in by a large table of very friendly bearded men and women with long hair, who kindly put up with me sitting at the table, rolling dice, moving around the little miniature people on the board, and otherwise pretending to be someone else with a bunch of grownups. It had to have been Dungeons and Dragons, but I remember very little except the nifty little guys and the fact that all the adults around the table were taking me very seriously and not talking down to me or making me feel like a little kid.

It made it extraordinarily fun, especially since I was effectively playing a young squire of one of the other characters and therefore my contribution was a glorified spear-carrier. I got into the SCA at a very young age because of those folk, and read Tolkien and other fantasy novels soon afterwards, also because of them. It was a taste of adulthood and I'm sorry I had forgotten it, and glad someone reminded me of the experience.

What was your WORST RPG session like? My worst RPG session lasted about 15 minutes, because after that I got up and walked out. I was desperate for a game, and so signed up for a DnD game at the local game store. As instructed, I had brought a character with me, created with the DnD 3rd Edition rules. Almost immediately, the other players began making remarks that made me uncomfortable, but I didn't get really upset until the GM called my character concept "gay".

At that point, I explained that I wasn't interested in playing with bigots, collected my things and left. I think the important lesson to take away from this little story wasn't that they were gamers, but that they were intolerant. I'd react to rudeness in any forum, including at the gaming table, in precisely the same way. If any of them had been older, I'm not sure I would have been so hesitant to react more severely, but as it was, they were children, and so I did my best to limit myself to simply a tongue-lashing.

One of the greatest things about role-playing is the opportunity to put onesself outside the normal interaction box: to become someone else, to try and see the world through their eyes. A chance to experience vicariously the life of someone (or something) different from ourselves. That includes learning about intolerance, and racism, and bigotry, and hatred, and fear...and how we see ourselves, and how we as people act in similar circumstances.

Who is your all-time favorite person to game with? My current gaming group have consistently impressed and humbled me with not just their gaming abilities, but as good people and good friends. Joe Cohen and Matt Helms are the best gaming group a guy can have. I would state, however, that the friends I've made through my gaming groups are the best friends I could hope for, and I hope I'm considered to be as good a friend to them as they are to me.


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