I have not been at this long, only a few months. Some of you have years on me, so maybe I'm not the one to be saying these things. Maybe I am, because whoever comes in later is likely going to have my point of view. But here's what needs to be said:

This thing is growing at an alarming rate.

Biggest gathering ever. Seventy noders. All crammed into one house, at a couple points. Shoulder to shoulder in the basement, the kitchen, the hall outside the bathroom. On the couch and the front and back porch. Noderland. It alarms me because I wonder what the hell these things are going to look like in two years, or even five.

But it doesn't worry me. And here's why.

This weekend, I figured out what noders do better than anything else, better than anyone else. What makes them noders. The game that the noders have mastered, that the rest of the world could stand to learn from them if only for a day, is this:


Versatility, breeding improvisation. We all have specialties, but none of us would be as entranced by our surroundings if surprise wasn't our ultimate high. You have to assume the one next to you knows something you don't. You can't possibly cover all the bases, you can't be truly prepared, so all you can do is make sure those around you are equally unprepared for what you're about to do. Show your understanding of the system and don't just make it work, make it better.

How it plays out in real life is like this:


Not so much a scavenger hunt as a goddamned quest. Last night all we cared about was getting high and laughing and now we are not just sleuths but athletes, running to get it all done in time. Of course there is still more drugs and laughter but the point is we all embrace a new way to get there when the old one is easier.


We are seated at Asgard-length dinner tables, some 25 to a rectangle. The tablecloth is covered with huge squares of paper, 'cause, you know, noders are messy. And I can't remember who did the first one, but someone tears off a scrap to pass a note, like you did in middle school, and someone else responds, and a third copies. Fast forward an hour, and we don't want to put down the pens to pick up the forks. We see a new game and we're all game.

(I got an anonymous one that said, simply, "Dinner isn't the same without you." Hey Jay, can you finish that patch for us to read nodes in the author's handwriting? Then I'll figure it out. Thanks duder.)


We're back on the steps in front of the Pru. It's dark, and lights in the ground make creepy upside-down shadows on faces. It is decided that there must be a wedding, to commemorate last year's, and so Bart and Laurel, both of whom live nowhere fucking near here, bravely step forward to make the commitment. And as Cliff makes a speech about what this love means and will always mean, suddenly it's not a joke anymore. I was more genuinely moved than I have been at weddings of blood relatives, in churches. I look behind me and sixty-five noders are standing there solemn. Passersby ask us to explain and we tell them hilarious lies. This is our dangerous psychotic cult; you stay out.

No matter what happens, drama or trauma, fight or flight, we can deal. But we all work to keep it cool. We know all about karma, and we are cyclically selfish. We know that what is freely given will be returned a thousandfold.


"Hi, I'm Walter."

hemos shakes my hand.

"Hi, I'm QXZ."

hemos shakes his hand.

"Hi, I'm JayBonci."

hemos bear hugs him. "Can I hump your leg?"

Faces always fade from my memory           but voices (as the ninja says) become inextricably linked to writings.           For instance, wren and Mitzi's words will now have that Southern shading,          while karmaflux and j-bo's become low, dry, and deadpan.           The deductions I make about you people are consistently right;           the assumptions consistently false.           I don't mind. I love being shown the true why.

FatAlbertTheta is a friend of mine from high school I had not seen in eight years. Neither of us knew the other was a noder. We did the standard catch-up talk, but mostly we just stood around chuckling.

Wren is the deranged evil little sister I never had. She is endlessly fascinated by porn and enjoys stabbing boys. Underneath this-- no, not under, alongside-- she is a vulnerable ball of sweetness. So all of you assholes being mean to her better fucking quit it. You're just jealous because she can write better than you, and I bet she's younger too.

The ways in which Carla went all out to provide the good times cannot be overstated. I glanced at the fancy clue scrolls and said, "Ah, she just bought these at a tourist trap." Then I noticed the yarns about Olde Captain Fez and the Butt Pirate Miller. Imagination was out in full force, and was responded to in kind.

I should have known that Christa would put us all to shame at the scavenger hunt. She's had so much practice with those damn puzzles. I acted like a bit of a dick when I discovered the degree of her success-- this, again, can be chalked up to jealousy. She got an extra hug on the way out.

My team lost pretty badly, but I'll never forget the way rival Mitzi said "You suck!" when I waltzed into Davey Jones' Locker and opened the exact right treasure chest under her nose. We both knew she meant the opposite.

(She, I must detour to say, is a belle without equal. Calm and dignified yet smoothly silly. Sam, wherever you are, you're a lucky dog.)

So as I hugged and handshook my way to the door, how could I not get depressed, because there was still an infinity of witticisms unspun. Once I get used to this, how do I go back to my own boring little week? Guess that's why so many noders move in with each other.