The Perils of a Gamer’s Household

(or How long can we leave the dishes before we get fruit flies?)

My boyfriend Jay and I are in heaven. We’re as much in love as when we met, we’re happy, and we’ve been living in a bachelor apartment for the past seven months and haven’t wanted to kill each other (in my opinion, the most positive sign yet…) We’ve got our cats to entertain us, and most importantly of all, we’ve got our computers. You see, the two of us are very attached to our separate machines… it may be unhealthy, but no one has told us that yet, so we’re happy.

We met, initially, through the Internet – is there any other way to meet people anymore?? It was a whirlwind romance, and it wasn’t long before he lived with me and we were sharing a net connection through a proxy server. (Note to those entertaining the notion of sharing a net connection – proxy servers are NOT the way to go, even if it is considerably cheaper… just trust me on this one… having been on the wrong side of a proxy server, I know what I’m talking about. Buy a hub. I cannot stress this more. All of my connection issues were solved when we got our hub.)

For his birthday, I bought him a game that had been released that week. As a surprise gift one day, he brought home a new video card for my system. I love that video card… it’s the one thing in my computer that’s actually newer than anything in his. I felt special. Flowers and candy for valentine’s day? Not in this household! We upgraded both of our systems instead. For Christmas we bought ourselves a digital camera. Peripherals are the doorway to our happy place.

One of the best parts is the mutual respect we have for each other’s ‘computer time.’ I understand when he’s off in some fantasy universe blowing things up and doesn’t talk to me for three hours, because I do the same thing. It’s comfortable, and there’s no guilt for being addicted, no emotional trips of “you don’t pay attention to me anymore!”

LaundryOur communication has always been great. No, really. From across the room, sometimes I won’t hear him trying to get my attention for five minutes, until he sends me an ICQ message, “Hey, you’re close to the fridge, can you pass me a can of pop?” That gets my attention where tossing a dirty sock at me won’t. And yes, the socks are always dirty – his desk is near the mountain of laundry that we never get around to doing. We’d rather be playing online Euchre than waiting for the dryer to stop. Oh, how many times have we’ve joked to each other, “You know, I’ll bet we’d do laundry more often if we could bring a laptop and use the laundromat’s phone line….” and we were actually half-serious. I have thirty-seven pair of underwear… when I run out, I just buy some more at the discount department store. He works at home, so half the time doesn’t change out of his housecoat if he doesn’t need to go out that day.

We started our own fruit fly experiment last month, like the one my sister did in high school biology class. The basic hypothesis is ‘How long can you leave a stack of dishes on the counter in winter before the fruit flies arrive?’ Looking for a microwaveable plate to heat up a pizza pouch on, I noticed that we had no clean dishes beyond a single butter knife, a popcorn bowl, the wine glasses that you need to stand on a chair to reach, and a long-handled cooking utensil for which I have never determined a purpose for existence. I turned to Jay and asked, “Hey, can you do some of the dishes when I’m at work tomorrow?” His prompt response as he stared at the computer screen was “Sure.” I should’ve been able to tell the outcome from that alone…..

I came home from work the next day, and the mountain of dishes was still rivaling the mountain of laundry for attention. I thought about starting them, then sat down at my computer to check email and completely forgot – for the entire night. I remembered as I was climbing into bed, and mentioned it to Jay, who said, “oh, yeah… I forgot. I got busy on the computer…” I’d say it sounds like an excuse, but I had done the exact same thing that night, so I really couldn’t call him on it. And so that’s how it went on… and on… and on… we’ve reached the 1 month mark, only washing dishes as we need them (much like the laundry!) and still no fruit flies. We’re really quite impressed. I have absolute faith that we’ll get around to it eventually… or maybe just throw the entire sink in a garbage bag and buy new dishes. We discussed that, and decided that it wasn’t really a financially viable option. The dishes scare us now, though. I think they’re whispering things at us when we sleep. We really need to move somewhere that has a bedroom separate from the kitchen and living room so the dishes stop harassing us.

The dishpileThe end of the month arrives – it’s budgeting time. We had to make a decision, standing in the software store, as to what our real priorities were. There, on the shelf, was a new game that we simply had to own. And there, in our bank account, was a budget completely allocated for rent, food, and a night or two out for dinner at the cheap little Greek diner next door to our apartment, when the dishes scared us too much. And so, in the middle of the store with the game staring us down and calling our names, we had a financial discussion that went something like, “well, how much food do we have? Can we get by on that till the next paycheck? Do we mind washing some of those dishes and cooking our own food instead of going to Bill’s diner?” (I shuddered at the thought of tackling the dishes. I really do think they’re alive now. I’m just waiting for them to get up and walk away. Still no fruit flies though.) Finally, after twenty minutes of deliberation and the final statement from him, “It’s up to you,” we picked up the game. Never leave final decisions like that up to me. I can be highly irresponsible when I really want something… but I guess that makes two of us, so we’re doomed. It’s all about priorities and what keeps us happy, though. After all, what’s more important, eating out or getting oneself addicted to yet another game? For us, we like to feed our addictions. Another couple might prefer feeding themselves.

The thought of having only one computer to share between the two of us horrifies me. I’m rather incredibly happy that we both came into the relationship with our own systems, which eliminated the need to share one. It’s bad enough having to share some of the games! “Hey, are you done with the Final Fantasy VIII CD 2 yet?? I need it, I just finished the first disc!” can be heard floating out of the darkness on a Friday night outside our windows, as often as, “Oh, we need a fourth in Euchre, you wanna join us?” and “Hey, you’re not supposed to be shooting me, I’m your girlfriend!!!! So what if you’re on the other team and that’s the point of the game!!” followed infrequently by “HA! Gotcha back!” Unfortunately, he’s got better aim than I do, so that doesn’t happen as often as would be satisfying.

So yes, we live in heaven… bordered by Mount Dishmore and the Laundry Bluffs, engrossed in ICQ conversations and suffering from skewed priorities. But we’re happy that way. At least until the fruit flies get here and the dishes decide to stage their revolt. I figure we’ve got another week before that happens, at most. But we’re happy, and that’s all that matters.

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