Many of my friends at Buffalo Grove High School – class of 1980 – were into games: all the big 1970s role-playing & combat games, with dice and hexagons and tiny cardboard chits.

(A friend of a friend – a fella named Pete S. – was famous for once playing War in Europe as the Axis…and winning.)

I tried to be a gamer, like my friends. I bought a stack of Dungeons & Dragons books, and was a regular reader of The Dragon. I bought a half-dozen games (some of which were quite expensive). I attended meetings of the local war-game club. I even played a few games.

But I never was very good at them. (I have no skill at strategy games, and no patience for fourteen-hour military simulations.) As soon as the high-school gamer crowd broke up – we graduated, started college and/or military service – I drifted away.

A corollary hobby – painting tiny lead figures – persisted a few years longer, but in the end I gave that up as well.

Most of the relics from that time are long gone: the books, the magazines, the paints & brushes. I sold some, gave some away, threw out nearly all the rest. I do have a few lead figures, packed away in a closet somewhere; and, in a grocery sack under my desk at work, I have two SPI games: Sinai and World War III.

The one is a simulation of the Six-Day War, the other a (hypothetical!) global conflict between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. (this was the 1970s, after all). I’ve never played either of them. They’re so ferociously complex that I likely never will.

I really should just throw them away.