I do not have a brother. I have never wanted a sibling. That was until I met Chris Cortright also known as Big Man, we will be using Big Man throughout this post. I am not going to lie, we did not get along when we first met, but that was quickly overcome and we have been friends and family since then. He is the brother I would’ve liked to have.
Big Man came along before Jessica, and like Jessica he was there for all of the good, bad and crazy. He knows more about me than anyone other than Barb. I hope that he keeps telling the truth when I embellish and continues to be part of my social conscience. Big Man was my first successful translator. He did not translate what he wanted me to say into English for everyone else, he translated what I said into English that was understandable for the masses. Way back in the day, I really needed a translator and he was the man for the job. Probably still is.
We worked together for a long time at a hobby shop running the games department. There we were known for our fun times; want to know about a game we would gladly break open a copy and play it with you…okay mostly us trying stuff out first, but the sentiment was there. I won’t share most of the stuff we did for a variety of reasons, but I will share these three memories from our time running the game department.
Big Man had a power to grab a pack of cards that had THE card that you wanted. No lie. Never failed. Someone would come into the store or one of us would be working to complete the latest set of whatever CCG (Collectible Card Game for those not in the know) and tell him what card they would need. He would spend about thirty-seconds with his hand hovering over the box of cards before he reached in and pulled out a pack. Guess what, that card was in that pack. Sometimes twice and sometimes as a variant. Never failed. Very cool, but not that useful at parties.
Since we were running the department, we ordered supplies, mostly stuff that we thought we needed or were interested in. One thing we always needed, but could never get enough of were dice. The boss just didn’t understand why we needed more dice, after all we had dice in the case, that should be enough. Ugh. Plain dice don’t sell, just make the shelf look full, people want (ed) colorful dice. Thus one day we ordered dice, except we didn’t really pay attention to the package size. Ten pounds of dice…in the most common sizes. That was a shit load of dice.
Big Man was prone to ear infections, that he never noticed until way too late. Too late as in he became a raging asshole. Those around him eventually learned to recognize the signs and make sure he got to the docs, however before that time, we were giving a demonstration of the, way back in the day, Star Wars CCG. We had a large audience for us, watching this game unfold. I won’t go into too many details beyond when the situation became obvious that he couldn’t win he got really pissed. He threw the cards down on the counter, we always protected our cards with stiff plastic card protectors, those Star Wars cards shot up off the counter like shrapnel and most of them flew at me. I still wake up from nightmares of having my face flayed off by Star Wars cards. Turns out that, yes he was pissed, but he also was in the middle of another ear infection.
Outside of work, we hung out together playing role-playing games, partying (yes, he used to party) and video games over at my place, which would eventually become our place as in mine and Barb’s place. He was an integral member of our role-playing group, I can’t think of a time when he missed a session and his portrayal of Jubei, a ronin, set the tone for the Legends of the Five Rings campaign. The man could play fighting games on whatever systems were out at the time and many an hour or day was “wasted” playing video games. Big Man was witness to EVERY party. I am sure he still has nightmares about the Party with the Drunken Lady Tied to the Chair and Covered in Honey and I am sure he still cracks a smile when he remembers the night he drank me to the point of puking.
See I was a bit of an ass and I was positive that I could do anything better than anyone else. So what that Big Man was twice my size. I could drink more tequila than him. This was going to be cake. A word of advice, never get into a drinking contest with someone twice your size AND who knows you like the back of their hand. A bottle and a half of tequila later this was the conversation:
“Nate are you sweating?”
“You’re getting the flop sweats. How’s the stomach?”
“Your face just turned green.”
“Get out NOW!”
Everyone who was at the party left, the door hadn’t even latched closed and I puked my guts out all over the table, then I went and passed out in the tub.
Big Man went to the bar with us, until he blew out his knee in a night of drinking, watching girls with Barb while sitting on the big bass speaker, dancing, eating a glow-n-the-dark ant and twisting his knee really bad. We have collaborated many, many times over the years on role-playing games, writing and other projects. When I need art I ask him. I happen to think that he is an awesome artist, in fact all of the art in this post is stuff he did. If I have an idea I bounce the idea off of him and likewise.
Big Man taught me about his religion, he is a Mormon, now I am not saying that I still believe that Mormons have an all female ninja hit squad, but I did learn a lot about how someone else views the world and some of life’s mysteries. Granted if they do have an all female ninja hit squad, I apologize for not believing in them. Learning about Mormonism from him and EasyE, a friend of ours, allows me to answer the door and not be overwhelmed when the Mormons on their mission show up. In fact, name dropping the Hutchinson’s of Utah makes them happy even if they didn’t get me to convert, at least someone understands how much of a suck job going door to door can be.
We have moved apart, distance wise, he is in Utah with his wife and I am in Michigan with mine. We email and talk frequently, but if I had things my way he and his wife would be living near us. I am positive that if Big Man was here we would be gaming and getting into trouble like always.