I’m thrilled to be on the Anniversay Blog Hop for Out of Play by Joy Norstrom.
Gillian Campbell is out of patience. Her husband is choosing his hobby over her. And the hobby in question? Live Action Role-Play, or ‘larp.’ Larp involves dressing up as a character (be it medieval knight, banshee or centaur) and participating in imaginary battles for entire weekends. Gillian is not impressed.
She seeks professional advice and is surprised when her therapist encourages her to try larp. “Who knows? It may make you smile. It may make you laugh. It may even improve your sex life. How terrible could it be?”
The advice seems super sketch to Gillian, but she decides to don a costume and give it a go. If larp doesn’t work a marital miracle, Gillian will be able to walk away knowing she tried absolutely everything before giving up.
Will going on her own role-play adventure heal Gillian’s marriage, or will the game shed light on everything that is wrong?
“Pardon me?” I’d said. “Harping?”
“Llllarping,” the flutist had corrected. “L-A-R-P. Live-action roleplay, you know?” She’d answered my question with a smile but her predatory gaze had shifted to Ralph.
“Sorry,” I said. “I don’t know.” We were at a gala fundraising dinner for the Philharmonic Orchestra. I’d been performing with them for several years. My instrument, the French horn, might not have been the sexiest, but it was solid. Substantial. Not some flighty, erratic-sounding woodwind reminiscent of a chickadee caught sucking helium.
I took a sip of my wine and wondered how we could politely exit this conversation. Lauren, a flutist who had recently joined the orchestra, was droning on about her gap year after university, while Ralph, more interested in his bacon-wrapped artichoke, had been zero help keeping the stilted discussion going. Zero help until she’d dropped larp on him like crack cocaine.
Ralph looked up from his plate. “Live action. Is that like acting out a scene from a game? In real time or something?”
“Doesn’t it attract some strange people?” he asked. His attention was already moving back to his appetizer. “You know, Dungeon & Dragons types who haven’t left their basements since the 1970s?”
I gave a polite chuckle.
But not Lauren.
She threw her head back, long blonde waves streaming over her bare shoulders, as though Ralph had said the funniest thing ever. The swell of her breasts nearly bounced over the deep neckline of her turquoise gown.
I self-consciously smoothed my black dress – the same one I’d worn to last year’s event – over my Spanx, which were unfortunately cutting off circulation to my abdomen.
“Larp attracts all types,” Lauren said, having managed to catch her breath before her breasts escaped clean out of her dress. “If you like adventure and the outdoors and excitement, you’ll like this.” She directed her response at Ralph, who had, after all, asked the question. “You should check out our website sometime. It lists all our upcoming events.” Reaching into her purse, she pulled out a business card and handed it to Ralph.
“Oh, er, thanks.” He balanced his plate in one hand, handing his wine glass to me while pocketing the business card.
I’d found it there later. I’d taken the card with its heavily embossed gold print out of his pocket before throwing his dress pants in the wash.
And if I hadn’t found it? The card would’ve been mashed to a wet pulp and torn into several mucky pieces, later to clog the dryer vent with the rest of the lint. Would that have changed anything?
Perhaps not. We live in the Internet age. Yet I still couldn’t help wondering.
Because instead of discarding it, I’d placed the larp card in the basket with loose pocket change and odd socks, the ones whose matches were forever MIA.
And there the card had sat. Waiting to be rediscovered.
And, of course, it had been. All it took was the right series of events. A crisis had hit—the unthinkable had happened. Then, incomprehensibly, life moved on.
I remodelled the kitchen.
Ralph bought leather-studded armour.
Meet Gillian, the slightly neurotic and insecure wife.
Meet Ralph, the husband, who prefers to go larping ( an interactive role-playing game where you get to dress up in a costume act-out scenes) than to spend time with his wife. Some men golf, some men larp!
Well, trouble starts when Gillian begins nagging old Ralph and decides to seek help from a therapist. To her surprise, the therapist advises her to give “larping” a go and try to bond with her hubby. She really does want her marriage to work so she decides to surprise Ralph and “shows up” at an event. How does Ralph react to seeing Gillian? Is this little adventure worthwhile or does it turn into a disaster and blow-up in her face? Maybe Ralph is hiding something from her? Will Gillian find her happily-ever-after?
Out of Play has some humor, some touching moments and many will relate to Gillian’s feelings that her husband has lost interest in her.
Thanks to the author for providing an Arc in exchange for an honest review.