Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bill Gates Touched My Butt!

Now that you know the end of the story, here are the preliminaries:
Somehow Shauna got a job at Bungie, which, as the roommates soon learned, is the company that makes Halo (our non-gaming tendencies have recently done a 180 since the discovery of this semi-subculture that is opposite of everything we know... it's like Aladdin discovering the secret cave: we realize what a total jackpot it is, but we know we're not really supposed to touch anything). As some may know, Halo got released at 12:01 am, September 25. This major event, years in the making, required proper buildup.
So this is how we spent 12 hours on Sunday at the company barbecue in Bellevue. Technically hired to babysit the kids and keep order amongst the nerd proteges, we ended up schmoozing with the vast spectrum of employees and their wives: from Claw, the 300 pound security guard and his hippy wife Kate, who owns "Hot Chicks" hair chopstick co., to Harold the CEO and his delightfully down to earth and fake-chested wife who shared stories of when Channing Tatum told her she was hot (jealousy doesn't even begin to describe it). Things got good as Shauna forcefully encouraged her coworkers to start drinking (many of whom hadn't seen the light of day for a good nine months.... these games don't perfect themselves, you know), but the highlight was when the roommates got coerced into "babysitting" two actors from LA who were up as Bungie guests. The most awkward setup of our lives went like this:
"Hey, you guys are from Washington, right? Go tell them some facts about Washington."
One of them apparently voiced a character in Halo, the other was as unqualified to be there as we were, and after bonding over how bizarre our introduction was, we realized they were "our kind of weird" and we were inseparable, taking the kids' bouncy castle by storm and carefully maneuvering conversations away from video games.

The next night was Bungie's Halo Launch Party. Since Bungie's location is technically a secret, the event was invite only, but thanks to Shauna, we found our way in via newfound connections. The place was posh, the shots flowed like wine, and everyone was buzzing with Halo-ticipation. One room was chock-full of pre-release gamers: playing Halo 3 before anyone else on the West Coast? Priceless! They had made mini-movies with game clips, interviews, and other footage that I considered obscure-- until the room would erupt with joyful, drunk laughter at one of the jokes, or cheer rabidly when certain Master Chief/Cortana scenes flashed. Watching with Voiceover Chris, we were forced to realize that our worlds had been flipped for the night: we were the outsiders. There was an entire in-group that we had no idea existed, we loved it.
I'm not normally a pushy person, but after a vodka tonic and an unrealized dream, I will throw bows through any crowd and, prepped with my opening line, I shoved my way up to Bill Gates, forced him to make eye contact, and asked loudly, "BILL, did you know there's a place in Sarajevo called Club Bill Gates that sells pancakes and pizza and uses a picture of your face from 20 years ago as their logo and also your signature on their signage?"

And delightful little Aspergers-fighting Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, said no, he was unaware of such a place.

"And I stole a bunch of their cards so I could give you one but guess what, I totally forgot it!"
And Bill Gates told me to mail it to him.

"Copywrite infringement, Bill! Just telling you to watch out!"
And get this-- the crowd kind of laughed and I segued into our next roommate request:

"So can I get a picture with you and my roommates for our Christmas card?"
He chuckled, we got into picture formation, and that is when BILL GATES TOUCHED MY BUTT, thus bringing my entire existence into one blissful culmination and effectively making the rest of my life one massive downhill slide from here on out. I wasn't the first and I definitely wasn't the last, but the point is, Bill's hand was resting on my left butt cheek. Enough said.
The night continued with party busses to the Game Stops and Best Buys, where lines of junior high boys with long hair and trench coats waited eagerly for 12:01 am. The actors and the roomies hopped off the bus and signed autographs (I singlehandedly caused the majority of Eastside Halo fans' memorabilia to plummet in value, but dammit, when else will I be able to sign dozens of autographs and play PR agent for an aspiring voice-over actor? When, I ask you?).

In sum, it was the weirdest and best weekend ever. Aye aye, Bungie, aye aye.

PS: Here's the Bungie article from Time magazine a few weeks ago, an article which didn't mean a thing to me until we met the people it talks about (casually discussing with the Flintstones jingle writer over how Marlo could break into the jingle-writing world, for example) and experienced the inner Bungie stratum. It didn't mean a thing until we realized that for a lot of people it is a big freakin' deal. And now we have become those people.

1 comment:

Gabriel said...

"bringing my entire existence into one blissful culmination and effectively making the rest of my life one massive downhill slide from here on out."

Wow...That made my day in a way you will never understand.
Great story.