My family, while friendly, is not full of outgoing types. What I remember of social interaction involved relatives or long-time friends from our church. We didn't mingle or meet new people. You have to realise this to understand the oddity of my introduction to D&D.
I was in elementary school at the time, probably sixth grade. One of two friends told me about D&D on the playground. I can't remember if it was T or J, but most likely J because my parents were soon invited to J's house.
J was a very smart, precocious boy who had some of the social oddities that seem to go hand in hand with those qualities, for example, he would always look up when he talked to anyone.
My memory is not my strong suit, but I remember him telling me on the playground that in D&D you could play knights and fight dragons. I also remember asking if there were witches in the game. An odd question to ask, and probably one of many I asked that day, but I remember asking it specifically because I would be disappointed and confused for years about why a game like D&D would have no way to simulate the witches of folklore.
Anyway, my parents were invited to meet J's parents. They lived one street over. I have a vague recollection of sitting in their living room on the couch while his mother, the nurse, told my parents about how the game would help me with my math. I remember this, because I don't think the mother knew much of anything about D&D and so to proselytize for her son must have been a very nice or very odd thing to do.
This is the image that comes into my head when I think of first encountering D&D: this awkward Ozzy & Harriet social scene, my parents in the house of strangers, being sold on a strange game that would capture my fancy and that, years later, they still don't understand.
I, like everyone probably, can make some criticisms of the decisions my parents made over the years, but I'll forever be grateful that they let me play D&D and left me alone to imagine and read. My relatives to this day think D&D is a demonic game. As a boy I remember telling my mother the demons in the Monster Manual were there because they were enemies, something to fight against. My mother seemed strangely confident in trusting my judgement over the warnings of her sisters and nieces. Perhaps truth and cool reason has a charisma of its own.
I'm meeting with friends this Friday for session two of Swords & Wizardry. I've been trying to wrangle up more players and am pretty sure I'll have two absolute noobs to roleplaying. One of them is a teenage boy. I'm wondering what he'll be thinking as he rolls up his character and whether it will catch his fancy and whether thirty years from now he'll be wrangling strangers for his own games.