That kid in the Normal Rockwell picture was pretty much me during my early years. I had a immense joy of reading. Adventure books, mythology, dinosaurs, science fiction and fairy tales were all in the mix of books that I actively sought. There were some books I would check out multiple times from the library just to read them again. I don't think it was until 6th grade that I remember seeing the cartoon version of The Hobbit. The cartoon was fun but it'd didn't inspire me to read the book.
It wasn't until my freshmen year in high school that I read the Hobbit during a snow day. I think I read it in one day. It certainly hit me at the right time and stirred a hunger for more fantasy. I think I tried reading the LOTR at that time, but didn't finish it. It was in that year (1980) that I saw the college seminarians playing D & D and was captivated by the game. Sitting in on future sessions was one of the things I looked forward to when they played during the week. For whatever reason fantasy and D & D floated off my active interest until the following year.
At the beginning of Sophomore year one of the fellow boarders, Nature Boy, invited a few of us to play D & D. After two sessions of hearing about his awesome character "Bravo" and all the ideas he had lifted from Moorcock, Donaldson and other authors we pushed him for some action which lead to a TPK. Just a tad dickish, but at least we finally rolled some dice! After that a few of us bailed on "Nature Boy" and his gallery of ripped-off characters from books. One can only handle so much narrative and so little action. Even with our lack of gaming experience, we knew that the TPK was not the way the game was always supposed to go. We also grew bored with Nature Boy's telling us how great Bravo was and how he was admired by every mythological being and higher power in the Deities and Demigods book by TSR.
Next time - Cheapass Dad and Dragonquest.