For a brief period of time there was this taller lanky kid who lived across the alley from us. When they had moved in I think my mom or dad ended up talking to his parents. My dad likes to sit on the back porch and see what's going on (not unlike white trash, white trash with a doctorate in engineering no less), and chat it up with the neighbors (more often than not, younger ladies half his age). This family was just one of many.
I think this was the late 1980s.
This kid would always wander aimlessly, skipping at times in the alley. He had no friends. He was quite a peculiar fellow. My mother saw this and felt bad for him, and suggested I go out and play with him. My older bro and I would end up making jokes about him - not to his face or in any kind of bullying sort of way. We'd just occasionally look out the window and watch this boy sized sprite/fairy "being" having fun with himself and his made up games and then of course comment to each other about how ridiculous that seemed. I'm certain the comments were clever and witty. I remember a lot of chuckling. I'm laughing now.
He was also heavily involved in D&D which seemed to make sense, considering his other weirdnesses. He was in his own universe and fully self sufficient at entertaining himself. Quite something to behold.
One summer night, I had nothing to do, and I saw him playing out in the alley with a wiffle ball bat swinging at something, I couldn't tell. He wasn't standing as a batter should. He was swinging the bat more like a tennis racket from what I remember. Mother was in the kitchen, again encouraging me to go out and play with him.
I'll try anything once. I was intrigued. I wanted to find out more.
Cautiously walking through our ghetto urban looking backyard, out to the alley, I introduced myself, as politely and warmly as I could. He was friendly back. I asked him what he was doing. He replied, "playing firefly baseball!"
(In my little brain, I was thinking....WTF!)
He kept swinging, at what looked like nothing, but it turns out he was trying to hit lightning bugs. Such enthusiasm he had. He handed me the bat so I could try. It felt weird. Aside from there not being a pitcher, or rules for that matter, like bases to run, the idea of hitting flies with a bat just seemed stupid and meaningless, but I tried to pretend some enthusiasm.
(There were also no winners or losers so it sucked even more)
This lasted for about ten minutes, before I felt the need to return back to the safety and sanctity of my home. I think I told him I had to go. And I said it politely. I don't remember being rude about any of it. If anything, I was awkward.
When I got back to the kitchen I had told my mother what we were doing, she decided it was probably not a good idea to not play with this child anymore. I don't think I told my brother as I was embarrassed for making an effort. He would've called me a fag or a sissy (and rightfully so).
(I would give my mom a tough time about this years after - Accusing her of forcing me to play with that D&D freak from the across the alley)
They ended up moving a month or two later.
***I'm quite certain this child ended up being far more intelligent than me, and probably makes a lot more money than I ever will...probably has a family, kids of his own, who participate in firefly baseball every summer.