Cut forward a few years. I received a free copy of the gaming magazine Shadis with my purchase of the Star Trek collectible dice game (this may have been my first online purchase). I got a subscription, and it came with a free RPG book. I wisely chose Vampire: The Masquerade, and nearly ran a game, but it died while trying to schedule the first session. My friend Tim had been a big fan of Paranoia since before the Great Mega-Whoops, so we played that from time to time. I even ran a Complex of Dimness "campaign".
In college, I finally got to actually play Vampire, very briefly playing in an RPG of some sort nearly every night of the week, but pulling back out of some strange sort of "academic ambition". It was not until I was a sophomore, however, that I actually touched D&D. I was wary. It was old. People complained about it constantly.
In the end, my first taste of D&D was a completely randomly generated encounter ran by lucasthegray, using, IIRC, First Edition rules, which meant, among other things, that one of our characters had a 100% chance of finding secret doors. That session sort of exploded when we encountered a 10 foot by 10 foot room with a very very angry Elder Red Dragon.