You may be wondering why I chose “The Contemporary Quixotist” for the title of my new blog. Or maybe you weren’t at all, but would still be interested in hearing it. Or maybe you generally don’t care. Whatever the case, I’m going to tell the story anyway.

When I was a sophomore at my Catholic high school, I somehow managed to convince our principal to let me host a D&D club in the library, after school on Wednesdays. It did fairly well, too – I had enough members for a large party, and we tore through White Plume Mountain an hour at a time over the course of the school year.

That same year, I had an English teacher who was a jerk. I’m going to go ahead and call him out by name here, so that if this blog ever comes up when he ego-surfs his name, he’ll get a nice, fat reality check from me – Mark Donelly, you were a jerk, and a lousy English teacher.

Mr. Donelly would come into the library when we were playing and mock us. We could take it, of course – we were getting much worse from our fellow students – but it was very inappropriate coming from a teacher, who should be encouraging school activities. In this case, it was especially inappropriate, as it was an English teacher, mocking an activity that promotes literacy, and was held in the library, no less!

He didn’t leave it there, however. One day he derided me in front of the rest of my class, comparing myself and my other club members to Don Quixote, the voracious reader who begins to see giants where the windmills are, and sets off to do battle with them.

I never forgot this. It wasn’t a grudge, though, but a lesson in how to treat people and respect and encourage the things that they enjoy. That’s what I learned from Mr. Donelly, and I wish I’d had the opportunity to teach it back to him.

Sometimes, we take the labels that people paste on us, and turn them into badges of honor. Consider “geek,” which used to be a derisive term, and has since become a positive one. In that same mode of thinking, I dreamed up the title for this blog – The Contemporary Quixotist, or “someone from the present day who occasionally looks at windmills and sees giants.”

And that’s the story. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to chase some snow elementals out of my kingdom.

(Where did I put that +3 shovel…?)