Leisure Suit Larry
byRalph Roberts and Al Lowe
©1997 Ralph Roberts and Al Lowe, all rights reserved, used by permission.
We decided (well, actually Al and Larry decided) that I
should write the introductory chapter in this edition, just like I did in all the previous editions. This way, wonderfully glowing things can be said about both guys without them being embarrassed (not that they would be). What they don’t realize is that this also gives me the wonderful freedom to embarrass them in no small measure. You would think they’d catch on by now.
Oh well—life is good.
Besides, every man has his price and since Larry has promised me a few choice pages from his little black book, why not? This time he has assured me better pages then last time, pages where the ladies have not moved and left no forwarding addresses.
So, while we’re waiting for Al’s bribe... ah... anyway, please let me introduce Leisure Suit Larry—lover, adventurer, and all them other good things!
This book is Larry’s first complete biography. Yes, that’s right, we beat Kitty Kelly to this one! Still, it’s a little funny, you know—it’s like she didn’t even try. Anyway, never mind her, she can have the lesser lights like Sinatra and Nancy Reagan; we’ll take our ole buddy, Larry, any day.
Larry, Larry Laffer—this is your life!
...aw... Larry... Larry? Don’t cry, Larry.
In the next chapter, we’ll have Al Lowe’s insights into the creation of Larry and, later on, some words from Larry himself. However, for now, let’s look at Larry’s "official" biography, as put out by the studio publicity people at Sierra On-Line in the now historical relic manuals that came with the first two Leisure Suit Larry adventures. We’ve dug up some more dirt... Er, we mean a few more facts to go with their offerings as well.
The following will bring you up to date on Larry’s life from his birth to the start of his first documented adventure. Here is the never-before-published scoop on Larry Laffer’s early life. Eat yer heart out, National Enquirer!
Larry Laffer at the time of his first adventure, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, is 38 years old. He has been living with his mother for some years and, to all appearances, has been nothing more than a mild-mannered nerd. His reading material (other than the magazines he kept hidden under the mattress) are books like Probing Your Parallel Port, Compute!’s Using Turbo Basic, and The Unix Desktop Guide to Emacs. The one on Turbo Basic was his favorite.
He is a confirmed bachelor and, basically, terrified of women. Asking a good-looking lady for a date is as far beyond his courage as walking to the moon in nothing but a pair of Reboks. So he holes up in his room on Friday and Saturday nights, plays with his personal computer, and listens to his extensive collection of Barry Manilow, Air Supply, and Boxcar Willie records. He is torn between declaring Manilow or Slim Whitman as the greatest singer of all time, though there is also a soft spot in his heart for Elvis. Something about those white suits the King wore really appeals to ol’ Lar.
Don’t be fooled by how small he looks on your screen. In personal appearance, Larry is five feet, ten inches (average height). His hairline is beginning to recede and, worse, his head is poking up through his hair. His stomach is starting to win the race by pulling ahead of his chest. He typically wore cardigan sweaters to work, and has a different pocket protector for each day of the week.
Every morning, he carefully puts three felt tip pens (red, green, and black) in his pocket protector, along with a ball point pen (blue), a mechanical pencil (messy black lead), and one of those little metal rulers with inches on one side and centimeters on the other. He never uses any of these items, but feels naked without them.
Larry followed much the same sort of schedule during his school years. He attended a local college, majoring in computer science (natch), and lived at home, commuting to and from class. It was cheap, but he did miss out on all the swinging dorm life. "Coed" wasn’t a word Larry understood well. He was not even sure how many syllables it had.
His mother always fixed him the same type of lunch. Two sandwiches, an apple or banana (but never both), and a small cup of pudding (alternating between chocolate and vanilla). Thursdays were Larry’s favorite because she fixed him deviled ham on that day and, perhaps, this was a minor indication of Larry’s later blossoming.
He would pick up the brown paper bag with his lunch, walk out to his little rusty-red 1970 Volkswagen "Beetle," and putt-putt his way to work. Every morning was exactly the same series of actions. He never varied his route to work, and he always stopped at the "Stop" sign where Elm Street intersected Oak, even though you could see for six miles in either direction and there was never any traffic.
Before setting out on his now legendary adventuring, Larry worked for a small high-tech start-up company that was developing a line of artificially intelligent machine controls. Larry’s supervisors, when recently interviewed, all stated that they wished they could have given Larry some artificial intelligence.
However, everyone we talked to agreed that Larry was conscientious (a "plodder" was how it was most often put), and would keep plugging away until he succeeded with an assigned task. Whether devising database structures or making points in adventure games, this seems to be an admirable trait.
Larry would arrive at work every morning at exactly the same time, never early and never late. He’d walk through the door to the programmers’ office at precisely 8 a.m., and stroll back to his very own cubicle. You’ve seen how funny Larry walks in the games? Well, the people he worked with noticed the same thing. Every morning, as he walked cattywompus into his cubicle (for a definition of cattywompus, a good old Missouri word, use the PgUp, PgDn, Home, or End keys on your keyboard as Larry walks across the screen, then just think how that looked at his place of work).
He would put his brown paper lunch bag into his bottom right drawer, turn on his computer, and go right to work. He’d punch away at the keys until 10 a.m., at which time he’d take the apple (or the banana) from his lunch bag and go on coffee break for exactly fifteen minutes, eat the apple or banana, and drink the one free cup of coffee the company allowed employees.
Lunch was always 30 minutes long in the same employee lounge. During lunch he would carefully munch both sandwiches and eat his cup of vanilla or chocolate pudding. Just before starting, he would always buy the same brand of soft drink (TAB) from the same machine against the wall of the lounge. On Thursdays, as he ate deviled ham, a slight smile would occasionally cross his face.
Anyway, Larry was pretty much tolerated by his fellow workers, and could have stayed with the company for as long as he wished. Nobody minded him all that much because no one ever noticed he was there.
Larry’s boss liked Larry a lot because he could brag to him for hours. His brother, as he told Larry time after time, was in the computer game biz and was pulling down big bucks.
Larry would just nod, do his job, and eat his lunch on time. He never changed and he never varied.
Essentially, Larry Laffer was boring as six-day-old lettuce.
Even Larry recognized that! He realized his life was going nowhere. Just meandering along. No fun at all. Besides, he wasn’t getting any.
Other than hints in the sleazy magazines he hid in his room and read late at night, Larry wasn’t even sure of what he was missing. All he knew was that the sexual revolution must have happened without him—he hadn’t even noticed the recruiting offices. Larry was no draft dodger—he’d have been glad to have signed up for the duration.
Sex? Love? Were they the same? Were they different? Could you have one without the other? These were all questions Larry was desperately asking himself.
Watching his fellow workers only made him feel worse. Those who were married went home to their wives and returned the next morning with tales of married bliss. The ones who were divorced or otherwise unattached bragged about their conquests in singles’ bars. Larry would listen to them, as he sat alone during coffee and lunch breaks, and feel absolutely like a miserable and lonely loser. Which is exactly what he was, so at least his feelings were accurate.
It never occurred to Larry that these guys just might be exaggerating a tad (like out and out lying). He thought every time out on a singles foray resulted in (pant, pant) action. His erotic daydreams, for a change, started including him. And in a starring role, too—no more character gigs or even just being a walk-on or no-lines extra. The ratings on his dreams dropped from PG to PG-13, and plummeted through NC-17. Soon they begin hovering around the X mark!
His performance at work dropped off. Bugs began to creep into his programs as he lost concentration while daydreaming. They got into his desk drawer, too, the next day after the day he forgot to eat lunch and left his chicken salad and mayonnaise in there all night.
He ran the stop sign at Elm and Oak, and for once there was traffic there! A traffic cop who, after barely missing Larry’s red Volkswagen, happily proceeded to write him a ticket for unsafe movement (which brings us back to the way Larry walks in the Leisure Suit Larry games).
Larry found himself watching the girls at work and going down to the mall on Saturday afternoons. All of womankind goes to the mall Saturdays, and he could watch them bounce, trounce, and jiggle by, and dream his dreams. In there, all these gorgeous chicks couldn’t keep their hands off him. It was great!
But, in the real world—the mall—he never tried to talk to any of them.
And his life just kept on getting more miserable.
Larry would sob into his pillow at night and pound it with his fist in quiet desperation. "I’m hornier than hell," he would whisper.
It sure wasn’t much fun. That was for sure. He was so dispirited that he didn’t even order the six-record set of Wayne Newton’s greatest hits offered on cable TV. He no longer stopped by the record store to see if there was a new Barry Manilow album or 8-track tape out. Larry’s Volkswagen still had an 8-track player and he was waiting to see if cassettes were going to make it before switching over. CD-ROMS? Those he had not even heard of yet. Besides, most of the Manilow stuff he really liked was still just on 8-track, although some of them were quadraphonic!
Larry’s mom was the first and, alas, the only one, to notice the change in him. She just did not know what to do about it, though. Larry had never been an easy child anyway. She had given birth to him, nurtured him through his childhood, into adulthood, and now into what was evidently his second childhood. Or maybe "second puberty" would be more accurate.
All she knew for sure was that Larry was moping around like a moonstruck calf—lying in his room with the door closed and the stereo blaring that God-awful seventies music. Why couldn’t he be into heavy metal like any other decent kid? That and the fact she kept finding magazines such as the National Geographic under his bed (the ones with the topless native girls at least) was all very perplexing.
It was frustrating as hell to Larry’s mom. She’d had just about enough of him anyway. After all these sacrifices, what with his dad leaving all those years ago, the time had come for her to live a little. She could still swing, by golly.
His performance had dropped off so dramatically of late that the company could no longer justify his employment. So, by tragic coincidence, Larry had been fired from his job the very same day he moped his way home to find the house had been sold and a note from his mom. The note brusquely wished him luck and explained that she had bought herself a singles condo down in South Florida.
"Gonna shake my booties while they can still shake," she concluded. There was no forwarding address given.
"You wanna get this junk outa here, like now," the real estate agent said, jerking Larry back to reality.
He looked at her blankly for a moment as she stood leaning against her snazzy red sports car.
"You don’t live here any more, dork," she explained gently. "So get the hell out."
It was, indeed, a dark and tragic moment in Larry’s life.
There comes a time in the affairs of men when they decide it’s time to have some affairs. This was that time for Larry Laffer. His mother had not only run away from home, she had sold that home right out from under him! He had no job and no prospects for one. The heck with it, he decided. He would start afresh and go for the babes. Do all the things he hadn’t done yet in life. No problem. He’d go to, YEAH, out to Lost Wages, the sin capital of the West. Darn right!
Larry, under the watchful eye of the real estate lady, gathered his few meager possessions and packed them in the Volkswagen. There wasn’t that much left really. His mother had already hocked the valuable stuff like the stereo and his computer. He had a few computer books and some sleazy magazines left and, of course, his Barry Manilow collection.
With a sad but determined sigh, he drove away from the now-empty house and down Elm toward the center of the city. It was time for that new beginning and he was just the swinging dude who could pull it off. Too cool for school and the man the chicks dug.
He nodded. Yeah, that sounded hip. After all, how much could slang and stuff have changed since he was in college 20 years ago? Much? Nah. Why, he bet the Beatles were still together. All he needed was some boss threads to show how cool he was, and the girls would throw themselves at him. He smiled confidently as he parked in front of the Uptown-Downtown Pawn Shop, Delicatessen, and Night Fever Polyester Plaza. The joint was seedy in appearance and looked like a wasted investment, even to him.
Larry entered the shop and put all his worldly possessions on the counter.
"You got to be kiddin’ me, bub," the clerk said, rolling his stub of an unlit cigar to one side of his mouth, and distastefully thumbing through the stack of records.
"Good stuff there," Larry said confidently. "We’re talking the latest rage in music. It’s Manilow fer gawd’s sake. Hot, man, hot."
Know what kind of clothes you can get for an extensive Barry Manilow collection? Well, the shop owner was only all too glad to make an even trade for a white polyester leisure suit he’d had hanging there since 1973. Feeling just the least bit guilty, he tossed in a pile of genuine cheap imitation gold lacquered chains and a gift certificate for the Disco On Fire Health Club and Dance Spa (which he’d gotten free anyway), and a ratty, much—worn pair of "steppin’ out" elevator shoes.
Larry changed in the restroom and walked out of that shop a new man! No longer was he Larry Laffer, pathetic loser. Now he was that swinging single kind of guy, the great, the one, the only, Leisure Suit Larry! Another 15 minutes at the health club just down the street, a quick visit to the barber shop for a "Saturday Night Fever" bouffant haircut ("guaranteed to get the chicks—by the truckloads"), and he was ready!
"Look out, you foxy chicks," Larry said, as he walked down the sidewalk to his car.
There were no chicks around, foxy or otherwise, but that didn’t keep Larry from trying out some cool moves, just like John Travolta in Larry’s favorite disco movie. After all Travolta wore a white suit, didn’t he? And how about ol’ Elvis, the King! Yeah, he’d be like a combination of those two hep cats—a dancer who could sing.
"Stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive," Larry sang as he did a 360-degree twirl right next to his Volkswagen. The fact that young people today might not know who Travolta or even Elvis was did not occur to Larry. After all, these two are near-legends. Almost up there in the annals of all time greats like Barry Manilow and Slim Whitman already are. Not to mention Perry Como!
A young lady jogged by then, studiously ignoring Larry after one startled and incredulous glance at his leisure suit.
"Thank you," Larry said in his best Elvis imitation (which was none too good). "Thank you very much." He wished he had a sweat-soaked handkerchief or something to throw at her. That had worked wonders for Elvis. He’d have to learn how to sweat like Elvis. Yeah. No shortcuts!
He got in the Volkswagen Beetle and drove away. Next stop Lost Wages! Look out beautiful babes of the world, Leisure Suit Larry was on the prowl! Please take a number and wait. Thank you. Thank you very much.
"Stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive," Larry sang as he gripped the car’s steering wheel and aimed in the direction of Lost Wages.
Lost Wages, Nevada at night looks like a huge neon dinosaur making it with 6,000 acres of electrified sequins. That’s what struck Larry Laffer’s eyes as his wheezing Volkswagen topped a rise and the desert city was laid out before him.
This city, unlike its nearby neighbor, Las Vegas, did not even bother with such niceties as a Chamber of Commerce. The place existed for one reason, to afford a convenient grouping for businesses out to fleece suckers.
"There’s a sucker born every minute," P.T. Barnum said in the last century.
"Larry took three times longer than any normal kid to be born, the dirty little sucker!" his mother had often said to her sympathetic friends in this century.
"Welcome to Lost Wages!" the city limits sign read, as Larry’s Beetle buzzed by.
Larry knew a lot of people had come into Lost Wages in $10,000 cars and had left in $100,000 buses or on $2,000,000 trains. However, or so he thought, they were fools! They had come here to gamble and lost it all. He was a lot smarter; he’d just come for the chicks. Yeah. No wasting time on slot machines or at the blackjack tables for him. No sir.
Well... Maybe just a little. He was kind of short on cash. In fact, he’d spent his last ten bucks on gas and a can of breath spray a hundred miles back. He was broke and his credit card had just expired. Some flash money to impress the ladies was needed.
The first order of business then, Larry concluded as he entered the outskirts of the city, was to generate a more positive cash flow. Just a few thouand. That’s all. No sense being greedy.
He passed another sign. This one touted the great taxi service in downtown Lost Wages. "No need to walk, use our cheap, clean, luxurious cabs!"
There was a picture of a friendly, smiling cabbie, waving from the window of his late-model, shiny cab. P.T. Barnum would have loved that ad. "This way to the Egress, indeed," he would have chuckled.
Subtleties, however, were lost on Larry. He thought "nuance" was either some kind of perfume or a word applied to drunks (as in, "she made a public nuance of herself"). So he just accepted the sign at face value and figured that was the solution to his transportation problems.
A used car lot caught Larry’s eye. It was a seedy, unprosperous-looking place, but at least the "Open" sign was still propped in the window of the rusty little house trailer that served as an office. "A-1 Honest Used Cars." That sounded just like what he needed—an honest used-car lot. Larry still tended to believe everything he read.
Well, appearance didn’t matter, he decided, since the place would give him a good deal just like the sign said. Because Lost Wages had this fantastic cab service, he had no more need for the car. He’d sell it and use the money as table stakes to build up a real bank roll. No problem!
He turned in at the lot’s entrance, and parked next to the office. He pushed the creaking door open and entered to find a man, feet propped on a dusty desk, staring back at him with no great indication of interest.
"Business kind of slow, huh?" Larry said.
"Not anymore, mac," the man said. He reluctantly got to his feet and came around the desk to offer a hand to Larry. "Name’s Honest Tricky Dick; this here’s my lot. What can I do for you?"
Larry scratched his head. He wondered a moment about Honest Tricky Dick’s name, then shook it off and got down to business.
"I’ve got this great automobile, a real collector’s item..." Larry began.
Honest Tricky Dick pushed past him and looked out the window.
"Where? All I see is that ratty-looking Volkswagen. Nice, though, how the rust blends in with that red paint job. Har, har."
"It’s a classic," Larry said, desperately trying to remember all the used car jargon he could. "A real creampuff. Hardly used. Pristine condition. Why, just look at—"
"Yeah, yeah," Honest Tricky Dick said, unimpressed. Looks like she’s a ’70 or ’71, eh? Okay, the money ain’t mine anyway so I’ll buy it." He shook his head in disgust. "We must be on the wrong side of Lost Wages here. Har. Har. Everybody wants to sell, nobody ever buys."
"So," Larry said, already visualizing the several hundred big ones he’d soon have in his pocket, "how do you stay in business?"
"I gotta deal with a Sierra On-Line—you know, them computer game people. They buy my trade-ins wholesale," Honest Tricky Dick said. "Use them junkers in games like Police Quest. With those new VGA graphics, you can make even a real heap appear good. Saves a lot of production money. Har. Har."
Larry sighed. That stupid laugh was beginning to get to him. Why did he have the feeling he’d be hearing it a lot while here in Lost Wages?
"Yeah, well how much for my fine, vintage Volkswagen Beetle?" he asked.
"Ninety-four dollars," Honest Tricky Dick said. "Take it or leave it, and I’ll throw in a free ride downtown."
Well, Larry haggled like hell but Honest Tricky Dick was not budging. So he finally accepted it, and Honest Tricky Dick drove him downtown.
It was a seedy looking part of town they were in. Trash littered the streets, and dogs seemed to run wild, marking their territories with merry abandon.
"What’re ya looking for?" Honest Tricky Dick asked.
"Women, babes, chicks—"
"Right, got ya." He pulled into the curb. "Well, here’s the right place for that—har, har. I come here pretty often myself. You might want to stay out of that dark alley over there."
"Thanks," Larry said, and got out of the car. He looked at the dive in front of him. It was a bar. "Lefty’s," the sign above the door read.
As Honest Tricky Dick drove away, Larry took inventory of what he had on him. A worn wallet with $94 in it, an as-yet unused can of breath spray, some pocket lint, and a wrist watch. That was it. Except for his fantastic leisure suit—a major chick-getting necessity!
"Stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive," he sang. Then, seeing that little dog approaching with firm resolve in its eyes, he decided to enter the bar and begin his adventure.
"Hey, get away from me," he said, as the dog came even closer. He picked up speed and jerked open the door to the bar (how else would you expect a jerk to open a door?).
The rest, as they say, is legend.