I had reached a point where I just completely had it with girls. “Girls are dumb and mean!” I would yell at complete strangers. “They just want to control me!” I would post on random internet message boards. “Sorry, I can’t play Madden tonight, the girlfriend won’t let me” I would tell my internet nerd pals as I sunk into the knowledge that I would be spending the rest of the night watching Real World Vs Road Rules or some other bullshit house makeover show. Because that’s quality time, you know, watching horrible television, not talking to each other, being miserable.
So, just a little shy of four years ago I made an executive decision. No more girls. I got a studio apartment, always had large amounts of alcohol, a decent PC gaming rig, an xbox, ps2 and gamecube (which later turned into the next gen machines, of course) and constant supply of hotpockets, mac and cheese and frozen lasagna. Life was good. At that point I was still going out to bars, and try as they might I wanted nothing to do with the girls there. I mainly spent my time talking to friends about videogames, politics, watching the Boston Red Sox, breaking my hand punching a wall because I was drunk the Red Sox won a game they had no right winning. Why would someone punch a wall after a Red Sox win? I don’t know, but I didn’t have a woman telling me I was an idiot. Life was good.
Then World of Warcraft came out and it completely devoured my soul. I knew I was going to like it, and play it for a while, but if someone told me that I was going to put over 400 days played into it over the next few years I would have told them they were on crack. I have videogame ADD, you see. I’m lucky to play a game 10 hours before getting bored. Ive always been able to explain it off as “well, if the game was better I would play it more.” Which I guess is true, because World of Warcraft was better, and I played it more. I also had an unyielding addiction to Socom 1 and 2. And NCAA Football 04.
World of Warcraft completely killed my social life. I’m not complaining about that fact though. My social life was one of a barfly, someone who started the night as the life of the party but ended the night as the punch line to a pretty sad joke. In the words of one Conor Oberst “I don’t recomend it but it’s certainly one way to live.”
So I was couped up, for years, playing World of Warcraft. I was still the angsty, drunk idiot, but at least I was safe. I was the guy who would pass out in the middle of an instance run. I was the guy that would walk backwards into the imps during the lucifron fight. I was the guy that would start huge arguments late at night under the sway of Shaefer and Jameson only to wake up the next morning completely embarrassed. I was also the guy that internet girls latched onto, for reasons I’ll never understand. Hell, one chick from Canada sent me naked pictures. She wanted us to meet up in a Buffalo. I said “hell no.” I didn’t need girls! I had Night Elf Rogues and Undead Mages to play. I had Hunters, Druids, Warriors and Warlocks to level. I had PVP honor to grind.
Something had to give, of course, and I finally reached a point where drinking as much as I was just wasn’t a good idea anymore. So I stopped. But I didn’t stop playing WoW. In fact my devotion to it only grew stronger. I was never content though. I guild hopped, I character hopped… I never stayed in the same place for very long. I would always come back to the guild I helped create, but then eventually run off and do something else again. I was in search of some sort of elusive fun that must be somewhere else in the game. And it was, but only for short periods of time, and then it was time for something new.
On this past New Years Eve I was convinced by some friends to go out to a party. It was going to be my first new years in two years that I didn’t celebrate online is Azeroth. I reluctantly agreed and went, and everything started off pretty good. I had decided to drink as the rules of my quiting drinking was that I would drink on special occasions (like I had for birthdays, my sisters wedding, etc) previous to this. So I was drinking and chatting with people, the alcohol taking off the edge that made these people so scary in the first place. But then the night wore on and I got too drunk. And so did my friend Mike, who is an incredibly gifted and brilliant guy, but also plagued with a mind that seems to overwhelm him at times. That was something we shared, but for me it made me turn inward, for him it made him turn outward. And we ended up having this long conversation about me. Me! About how I had put on so much weight, about how even with me having had quit drinking I was still very unhealthy (the irony being that we were completely trashed, and still drinking). The conversation then devolved further into him wondering about other aspects of my life he really had no right to be talking about. But who cares about rights when plastered? I don’t blame him for it.
And then, at some point, I fell down or tripped or something. My memory of it is really, really hazy. But I cracked the bottom of my jaw on a chair. The pain, when I woke up the next morning, was completely unbearable. But I soldiered on, mostly out of an irrational fear of doctors and partly out of laziness. The pain would go away, eventually. It wasn’t though, so after about a week I went to the doctor. She was more concerned with my state of mind, how I could be in such pain for so long without doing anything about it. I’m crazy, I know that, my friends knew it, faithful readers of this blog probably know it… and she figured it out rather quickly. So she set up an appointment for me with a psychologist.
Having such intense pain in my face I barely ate anything, and I was losing weight at fairly rapid pace. So i decided to parlay that into a diet once the Face Pain ’08 subsided. It was a good step. I was feeling good about myself. And I was leveling an Orc Warlock. And he kicked serious ass! That combined with some therapy put me in a weird place I hadn’t been for a very, very long time.
I used to read craigslist religiously, something I’m happy I don’t do anymore, but I always read the personals and just cracked up at how these people were presenting themselves. Some had no shame at all, guys who would say “I will take you out for a very expensive dinner with the promise of the night ending in a good time.” Others were more subtly sad, girls and guys clearly faking that they were happy, attractive people. On a whim one night I decided to write one, the craigslist personal to end them all! It was diatribe about how I am a mediocre person at best, how I play tons and tons of World of Warcraft, how I am overweight, how I am anxiety ridden 99% of the time. It was beautiful. Who would respond to that!?!?
Well, it turns out, a lot of people. Some, mostly single mothers, looking for something sexual from someone who seemed sensitive. Those I completely discarded. I wasn’t looking for sex! Hell, I hadn’t had sex in three years, I didn’t even know if I knew how to do it anymore! There were others, ranging from completely boring to averagely meh. And then there was this one girl, who was really, really fucking funny. And smart. We started talking over email, then Aim. I was content with this. I had made contact with this alien species. It was a good start, yes, I was happy. But she wanted to hang out. Hang out!??! OH NOES! Oh, and she had a secret, a dark secret (this joke will make sense in a minute!). She said “There is something you need to know about me.” My mind raced… she has herpes? She has a penis? She is married? Nope, she sent me a picture and she was black. I had never dated a black girl before, but obviously being the guilty white liberal that I am I was completely open to it, psyched about it even. And thank god it wasn’t herpes or a penis!
So we started hanging out quite a bit. Tons, actually. I started missing raids of Mt Hyjal and the Black Temple. I didn’t even care, I was smitten with this girl. She is disarmingly pretty. It’s hard to even describe, but I see it happen on regular basis. Men walk by her (mostly either white guys our age, or really old black men) and they just stare at her. She is aloof to the whole thing, typical girl craziness, if she even acknowledges it it’s because they think she is fat or want to punch her in the face or something. But she is absolutely gorgeous, and so very, very funny. These are the qualities I would attribute to the perfect girl, but as most humans know the perfect girl doesn’t really exist (nor guy, of course), and even if they do you will figure out that it wasn’t really what you wanted in the first place.
Things progressed very, very quickly between us. Within 3 or 4 months I had moved into her apartment with her. I had quit playing WoW! I hadn’t weened myself off of videogames completely, of course, no girl has that power. But hanging out with her was more fun than plundering dungeons for virtual loot. WHO KNEW!?!? As I got to know her something started to become abundantly clear: This girl is a huge nerd. It took a while for me to figure out, mostly because these types of girls are myths or crazy Canadian chicks that send naked pictures and are obnoxious. It was like spotting a unicorn or a bear mauling Sean Hannity. As it unraveled it was so very, very awesome. The first sign was seeing that she had a dual monitor setup for her computer. But ok, everyone likes computers. Then sometime in the first few weeks of dating we played Bust A Move on her Nintendo 64 and she completely destroyed me. WTF!?!? And then she noticed I had a gamecube unused in my closet and asked to borrow it, and she became completely addicted to Animal Crossing. Wow.
But yeah, I already mentioned that I moved in with her rather quickly, it was a matter of convenience and infatuation. We both were really smitten with each other, she had this huge, completely awesome apartment and my lease was up. It was probably too soon to do it, but it made sense on many levels. So it was done and that was that.
Things were good, but issues started to arise that triggered all of my previous fears about women. First off, she insisted my computer and videogame system be wireless because wires running everywhere is ugly. WIRELESS!?!? WHAT ABOUT MY PING!?!?! Turns out that was fine. Who knew? But, also, computers were to go in the study and consoles and my totally sweet HDTV were to go in the living room. This was a harder pill to swallow. I am an ADD multitasker. In 2007 I watched every single Red Sox regular season and post season game, usually while playing WoW. Those days were over. And to make matters worse, my totally awesome HDTV is actually kinda small, perfect for my studio apartment but sitting on the couch in my new large living room made the screen too small to accurately kill terrorists in Call of Duty 4. So I had to sit on the floor.
I bitched and moaned about these things, of course, mostly because that’s the type of person I am, and partly because I had gotten myself into something that I knew I despised. I am not a control freak, I am actually quite the opposite, I usually am amiable to most decisions made about the house and whatnot… except when it comes to my videogames. She was trying to stifle me!
But time went on, and my arguments and anger over these things began to fade. I was definitely playing less console games as a result of them being away from my computer, but when one grabbed my fancy, like Battlefield: Bad Company or NCAA Football 09 I would plop myself down on the floor without much of a complaint. Meanwhile, she installed a copy of the first Sims game, something she had said she was very addicted to in the past. It was cool. She was playing videogames! So during one Walmart trip I suggested we buy The Sims 2 together knowing full and well that I wasn’t gonna play it, but I knew she would. And play it she did, as evidenced by this post I made a while back. The pieces were starting to fall into place.
So I did what any self respecting anxiety ridden nerd would do. I completely freaked out. Down was up, cats and dogs mating, it was total bedlam. And during this phase, which for the past few years had been reserved only for my WoW guilds, I almost lost her. But something inside me clicked, surprisingly, for the better. I realized I was being completely irrational. I had started playing WoW again, and she was cool with it, but in my mind she wasn’t. I was running an Online Dynasty in NCAA 09 and sometimes had to schedule games when we were supposed to hang out and I knew she was super pissed! But she wasn’t. And once I realized she wasn’t, that these were just ghosts of lesser caliber girls haunting my thick skull, I knew I had to save our relationship. Sitting on the floor be damned!
So, for the first time in my life, I’ve begun putting a lot of effort into the relationship and into myself to get to the bottom of why my thoughts turn negative and paranoid so quickly. The details of this I won’t bore you with, but it’s worked… and goddamn I am like 9000% happier. And we are co-existing on a level that both of us are happy with. Not just content, but actual happiness. There is still more work to do, there always is, but we are in a truly good space.
And then there comes that day, a day when you realize that you have made a series of good decisions and that it is paying off in ways that would have never imagined. This day, for me, was yesterday. The ladyfriend is on a big redecorating kick right now and wanted to go to Ikea. She knows that I don’t like shopping, and was actually sensitive to that and was willing to go when I felt comfortable. Just her doing that made me want to do it right away. Small gestures go a long way, apparently. So we went to Ikea and as we were walking around I was quietly scanning the area for a chair I could put in the living room that wouldn’t upset the balance of her (well ours, but it’s all her work) perfectly decorated living room. I didn’t mention it out loud though, I’m not sure why. I was just quietly scanning.
But then I sat on this weird stool and she gave me a rather puzzled look so i explained that I was hoping to get some sort of chair for the living room so I didn’t have to sit on the floor anymore. To my shock and amazement, she loved this idea, and suggest we circle back around and go through the whole showroom area again. So we did, and all of the chairs we both really liked were out of my price range. There was one chair that I liked that was cheap enough but she wasn’t a huge fan of it. And instead of getting mad about that and devolving the whole situation in my head to thinking she hates me and everything I like or want…. I accepted it. Lets go to Target, I said, she still needed more stuff and they brought me the opportunity to look at more chairs.
This is where the amazing happened. We are in the section with chairs and we stumble upon these two Videogame chairs. If you haven’t seen them they are basically fully cushioned chairs that sit on the ground (aka they have no legs) and have a subwoofer built into the back and speakers built into the side. You hook your audio up to them and when you crash into a wall playing Gran Turismo the bass shakes the whole damn chair. I was in love. It was perfect. I mean, it was ugly as all hell, but it was perfect! But I knew there was no way that she was going to allow that thing in her living room. And then it happened. So far out of left field it cracked me in the skull and knocked my increasingly less fat ass to the ground. “It’s ugly, but it’s really cool. I think you should get it.” I didn’t know what to say! I was overwhelmed with awesomeness. I couldn’t even make sense of it all. I just shrugged and said “well lets keep looking, I’ll think about it.” THINK ABOUT IT!!?!? GO GRAB THAT FUCKER RIGHT NOW BEFORE SHE COMES TO HER SENSES!
We meandered about the store some more, she was looking at shower curtains, I decided to wander over to electronics to see if some not so bright employee happened to put Madden 09 out early. No dice. I didn’t really care. All I could think about was that chair. And why the hell was this girl in favor of it? How did I luck out so hard to have a girl that is jaw droppingly gorgeous, smart, funny, a complete and total nerd and willing to have an ugly ass gaming chair in our otherwise meticulous living room. How did this happen?
So I found her again and started wondering out loud about the chairs. One was smaller and cost $60, the other was bigger and seemed of higher quality for $100. Which one should I get? “Get the $100 one. It’s better.” Really!??! WHAT!?!? “Take the cart and go over there and decide, I’m not coming with you though because I know you are gonna ponder it and I already told you what I think.” We both cracked a smile over her mater of factness. Did I mention she is very matter of fact? Because she is. It’s a really wonderful trait.
So I went back over there with the cart, I looked at both. I didn’t even know what to do with myself. I was like squeezing the fabric and stuff like I was going to learn anything about it by doing so. But in the end, I took her advice. The $100 dollar one was clearly better, even though it had this ugly and stupid X embroidered into the headrest. But she saw the X and was ok with it being in the living room. Craziness.
After waiting for what felt like hours for her to finish up going through the clothes we checked out and I actually owned the Original X Rocker gaming chair. And when we got home I couldn’t wait to unpack it and put it together and get it all plugged in. But i was racing the clock, I had an NCAA dynasty game scheduled for 10:45. I got it all put together and hooked up, but I couldn’t find an extension cord anywhere in the house, so i had to go without the sound for my first game on the thing. And man, what a terrible game it was. My long time internet nerd friend, a black gentleman (and republican? WTF?) by the name of Glenn33 completely trounced me in our game. My quarterback turned the ball over on every single possession of the game (5 ints, 1 fumble). I didn’t care. My chair was awesome!!!!
Near the end of the game the most wonderful woman in the world came in with an extension cord she found. How sweet! So after my humbling but not good mood stealing defeat I hooked up the sound. It was awesome! The whole thing vibrates when the base gets kicking. The sound quality is actually much higher than what I expected. She decided to try it out also and really seemed to enjoy it, talking about how she was looking forward to using it to watch some sort of action or horror movie. I’ve never been so in love. With a chair.
Or a girl.