My husband came home a couple of days ago and admitted something horrible to me. I could see he was trying to figure out the best way to tell me without upsetting me, and as he fumbled for words my mind could only veer off in the worst directions.
I just knew he was about to confess to having an affair. Or to being a member of an organized crime ring. Art forgery? Actually had a sibling he’d killed with Lawn Jarts?
I’d seen a wild behavior begin here at home, maybe a month ago. He would come home from work, exchange pleasantries with us (you know, his family), and go turn on the video game console. He would recline on the couch with one leg propped up on top of the back cushions, playing vintage 1980s Pac Man for hours, level-after-ridiculous-level, that irritating beep-beep-beep music finally driving the rest of us upstairs.
I knew this about him and I accepted it. It was his way of unwinding at the end of a long day. I even justified it. Some men go to the gym instead of coming home. Other men can’t even loosen their neckties without pouring themselves a drink. Instead, my husband liked the sense of accomplishment that comes from eating digital pellets and outrunning cartoon paranormal creatures.
But he finally told me this week about his other “secret life.”
HIM: “I know you don’t think I’m really DOING anything useful when I play Pac Man, but I’ll have you know that all the time I play Pac Man has really helped me with my Mrs. Pac Man game.”
ME: (stupefied silence)
HIM: “Really. My score at Mrs. Pac Man is getting better and better.”
ME: (couldn’t-care-less silence)
HIM: “In fact, my Pac Man playing here at home is actually saving our family money.”
ME: (Dear Lord, please don’t let me speak. Please keep me from saying something mean. Amen.)
HIM: “In fact, I can play about eight levels on a single token.”
ME: “Wait. Token?”
HIM: “Yeah. You know, the token. You put it in the video game.”
ME: “Video game. Like at the arcade?”
HIM: “Of course.”
ME: “Oh my gosh, are you seriously telling me you’ve been going to the arcade to play Mrs. Pac Man?” (Loud screeching became involved…so much for my earlier prayer.) “Are YOU the creepy guy who hangs out in the arcade by himself playing VIDEO GAMES surrounded by freaked out ten-year-olds???”
I’ll spare you the rest of the conversation because it got really, really stupid after that. It involved a lengthy explanation of how playing video games was actually as healthy as going to work out (wrong), and how he was only spending a $1.25 a week at lunch now because he could play for his entire lunch hour on a single token (okay, he has a point), and by the time his little yellow blob finally got eaten by the low-resolution ghosts there was no time left for food (I never don’t have time for food). Sadly, the man has to pass an adult video store to get to the arcade and there’s a part of me that wishes he was stopping in there instead just because it would make more sense.
Given the wide variety of alternatives my mind has now come up with, I should probably be grateful that the “other woman” in his life hit her peak in 1983 and after all these years still wears a ridiculous pink hair bow perched on top of her head. I hope she knows this is just a passing fancy for him, and that I actually have his heart. Speaking of owning necessary vital organs, I’m gonna have his kidneys in a box if he starts hanging out at the skating rink behind my back.