Tuesday, March 21, 2006

In the beginning, there was an Xbox

I don't know how it happens, it just seems that I always end up with a gamer. I cannot remember a man that I've dated that hasn't owned at least one gaming platform or a kick ass computer to game on! And I can't complain much because I was a gamer too when I was a kid. My NES was the best toy in the world when I was ten. But the important part of that sentence was "when I was ten." I grew up and got into ballet and cheerleading and gymnastics. I rarely told anyone that I used to be a gamer unless I was working on a guy that I liked. Every now and then I would impress them with my knowledge of the infinite lives code to the original Contra. Yes, there were certain times in my life where I would hop on the PlayStation and sack some QBs on NFL: Blitz to work out some of my frustrations but when the platforms evolved into what is now the Xbox and the PS2, I didn't really think much of it. Then I began dating a guy who considered himself a gamer.
That was the first time I have ever heard that term and I didn't realize what all that meant. I thought to myself "oh, he must like playing around with a video game every now and then." Boy was I wrong. I soon realized after moving in with him that video games were a major part of his life. Not only would he spend every waking minute away from work playing whatever RPG or first-person shooter was hot on the market, he spent YEARS of his life on a MMORPG. He was in a guild that scheduled quests and missions, he had to level his character up until he could go no further. For about six months I let him do his thing. I would go out with my friends, read, or spend time on whatever work project I was currently in the middle of. When it started to bother me, I voiced my opinion but what he said to me afterward made sense: I should appreciate the fact that he was at home with me even though he was virtually addicted to a video game. He could be addicted to other things that are a lot more detrimental to a relationship and he used a strip club as an example. Wow, I never thought of it that way. After that conversation, we laid down a few rules. We would go out at least once a week and we would try our best to spend at least an hour together after we came home from work with no distractions. And it worked for a while.
But sooner or later, I got bored and one night while he was in
the middle of a power-level quest, he had to go AFK in the middle of a huge battle. He asked me to take his place while he did whatever it was he had to do. I relectantly agreed and took my place in the chair. He showed me what I needed to do and what I needed to worry about. It took me a second to get used to the controls, I wasn't used to handling the right side of the keyboard with my left hand and using a mouse at the same time with my right hand. But then something happened, I actually enjoyed it! Shortly after that, we started my own character and would play together. When we bought a new computer, I went with our roommate to buy it and pick it up, came home and put it together just so I could get a couple of hours in with the new rig before he got home from work. I started playing in the PVP world, met new people, and had a lot of fun.
My favorite moment of triumph came when one of the guys (either the boyfriend at the time or the roommate) brought home Dead or Alive. I had always been good at fighting games for some reason and I got bored from working one night so I told them that I wanted to play. My BF handed me the extra controller and told me what every button was for but I didn't pay much attention. We started the fight and I beat him. He said ok, fine, two out of three. I beat him again. We probably played 20 times and he could not beat me. He eventually gave up and handed our roommate his controller so he could try to win. He couldn't win either. When his hands were too sore, he gave the controller back to the BF and he continued trying to win. Finally, about three hours after the beginning of the "OMG, I can't get beat by a girl" match I was tired so I told him that I was done and I was going to sleep. The look on his face after having his ass handed to him repeatedly was priceless.
We would host weekly Halo parties where some friends came over. The guys would hook up a couple of TVs, grab some beer and pizza and play until the sun came up the next day. But for some reason, they always left me out. I know it wasn't chauvinistic or anything, I guess the other guys just assumed that I wasn't interested in the game and I just rolled with it. But they really were the greatest group of guys and here is my story to prove it:
I had to have my wisdom teeth removed and since I am terrified of any needles that are anywhere near my mouth, I opted to go under general anesthesia. My surgery was on Monday morning which was our weekly Halo night and I had been worried sick because I had never been under anesthesia in my life. A couple of nights before I asked my roommate about the operation because he had his removed two years before. He told me that I would be really sore for a couple of days and wouldn't be able to eat anything solid. So the BF went out the day before and stocked up on juice and yogurt, all that good soft stuff. I don't remember anything about the morning of the surgery except for driving home and the BF asking me if I was thirsty and what I wanted to drink. I don't know what was going through my mind, I guess I was thinking teeth and calcium, so I told him milk. I don't drink milk straight unless it's chocolate and thank God he knew that because he stopped and got me chocolate milk.
The night before, he asked me if I wanted to cancel the Halo party and I told him to go ahead and have it, that I would be too drugged up to be concerned about anything. After the surgery (which I was still asleep from because he had to carry me up the stairs to the apartment) my mom came to visit me. She had wanted to come to the oral surgeon's office with me but I told her no because she tends to worry too much which in turn freaks me out. Her coming to visit was the first thing I remember after that. I woke up from my stupor and since my throat was dry, the BF brought me my chocolate milk but since my mouth and jaw was still completely numb I couldn't drink OR talk. I wrote down that I wanted him to bring me a straw and he began lecturing me that the dentist had said that I couldn't drink from a straw because of the risk of dry socket. I waved him off and he brought me a straw which I had to insert in the milk and hold over my head and drop the milk into my mouth. Yeah, lots of fun. While I was still unconscious, he had gone to the pharmacy to get my prescriptions filled and also picked up a bouquet of wildflowers and a stuffed animal for me. My mom decided to leave since I was still woozy and he gave me the painkillers so I could get a jump on the pain. I took them and passed back out.
I slept for a couple of hours and when he came back in the room he told me that the guys had called off the party because they didn't want to disturb me. I could finally feel my jaw again and speak properly so I asked him why when I had told him the night before that they could still come over. He told me that they wouldn't take his word for it and that they wouldn't come over until they heard it from me. So I had to call them and they still asked repeatedly if I was sure. I told them yes and that I would see them later. The fun part came later that night once I was fully conscious. They asked me if I wanted some yogurt or something and I told them no. I think I had the best oral surgeon in the world because I went in the kitchen and baked chocolate chip cookies because I was starving. I had no problem eating, no bruising, nothing. My best friend from high school called to check and see how everything went and when the BF offered to hand me the phone she said no, that she knew the pain I must be in because she was miserable for a week afterward. I grabbed the phone from her and she was silent. She was so pissed off that she was in so much pain, choking on blood for so many days after the surgery and here I was completely fine, eating solid food, acting like nothing had happened.
But like all things, the relationship came to an end. I had a couple of years of freedom ahead of me and it was a lot of fun. The more mature I got, the more I realized that I didn't really like women as a whole. Now, I know that I am guilty of being a bitch, but something in our genetics makes us extremely catty and petty. I had always had more male friends than female friends and this became more prevalent to be during these two years. I had continued gaming but instead of sinking a couple of years into an online character, I became interested more in the Xbox. I didn't own my own at the time so the guys and I would hit the bar, drink a ton of Knob Creek and then head to one of their apartments to play Halo for a few hours. At one point in time they told me that I was like a gay man with the right equipment. I didn't know whether to take his as a compliment, or to be amused or even insulted. After keeping this routine up for several months I met a man who changed my life. I had known him for several years, his father had introduced us when we were teenagers. We hung out one night and realized that we had nothing in common. Since our families were close and we worked on the same block we ran into each other frequently but beyond being polite and saying hi, we didn't have any use for the other one. But this all changed one night. We started talking and became inseperable.
He hadn't talked much about gaming until one night that I was at a friend's house just down the street. I called and asked what he was up to and he told me that he was playing an Xbox game at his house but he would be over in just a few minutes. That night when we were talking, I asked him about the games that he played and I wowed him with my Contra code knowledge. I mentioned Halo and was completely shocked to find out that he had never played it. I teased him about it a little but didn't think much more about it after.
After he had been staying with me about a month (I hardly ever let him go home, but in a fun, non-controlling way) I got sick. He called me from work to tell me that he would be at my house in a little while and that he had a surprise for me. He was good about surprises. Within the first week we had been dating, we were in my car and it started raining. He made a comment about how my windshield wipers sucked and I blew him off. The next day I had to go with my mother to pre-register for her surgery and since he rode home with me the night before, I told him to take my car to work and that I would stop by and pick it up once we were finished at the hospital. Right before we went into the hospital my phone rang and it was him. I had a problem gasket on my gas tank that would cause it to leak if you filled it up more than three-quarters full and he wanted to know if my car pouring gas on the sidewalk was normal or if he had accidentally done something. I assured him that it was fine but wondered to myself why he was putting gas in the car since I had half a tank in there when I left. When I went to pick the car up that afternoon he told me that he had put new windshield wipers on the car and that there was a surprise for me inside. I told him that he shouldn't have done that and he told me that he wanted to make sure that I would be safe in a rainstorm so nothing would happen to me because he liked me a lot. I thought that was so sweet but when I got in the car I found a gift card to the local bookstore. He noticed that I liked to read but he didn't know what to get me specifically so he got me the gift card instead. I was blown away! All these years I had thought that he was a total asshole and he is actually a total sweetheart! But more on those aspects of our relationship later, back to the real surprise...
When he got to my house, I opened the door for him and he was carrying two backpacks. I followed him into my bedroom and he laid them both down. He asked if I was still feeling sick and hugged me to cheer me up. Then he opens one of the backpacks and reaches in. He tells me that since he was always over at my house when he wasn't working he wasn't getting much use out of it and thought that maybe I would enjoy it. He pulls out his Xbox. I was in such shock that I was speechless. He says that I was on the verge of tears because I was so happy and maybe I was, I don't remember. He tells me that if I'm really, really not feeling well that I should hop back in bed and that he would go into the kitchen and make some soup for me and we can just cuddle in bed, but if I think I can bundle up and be okay for an hour or so, he wanted to take me to the store and buy Halo for me since he didn't get a chance to earlier. I bundled up and hopped in his car and we went to the store. He bought Halo and the Grand Theft Auto collection for Xbox and he asked me if I wanted to get another controller. Since my hands are so petite I have problems maneuvering the original Xbox controller so he told me to pick out one that I liked. I got an adorable small wireless controller and we headed home to play for hours on end. It was the second best day in my life and he enjoys telling people about how I was almost in tears because he gave me an Xbox. And that day is second only to the day I married him....

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