Like most women, Mrs. Nostrikethat went through the phase in our relationship where she would randomly ask, “So… what are you thinking about right now?” Like most women, she soon realized she really, really didn’t want to know the answer.
Personality-wise, I have a hard time doing anything I even moderately care about with anything less than Total Commitment and Singular Focus. I am selectively obsessive.
So… watchya thinking about?
I was just wondering if I could generate infinite saprolings consistently by turn 3 or not. Why, what were you thinking about?
I was thinking about us.
Oh yeah… um, it’s funny like two minutes ago I was thinking about how happy I was, right? But now I’m thinking about a Turn 3 kill. Did you want to talk about something?
Unless I have something constantly rolling around in my head, it feels a little empty in there. I need to obsess over something like a Kardashian needs a tabloid industry. At the same time, I am almost reluctantly putting off getting started on things because I know the energy it will take because obsession is Serious Business. For example, TV-watching is now really hard.
There are a handful of TV series that I want to watch but can’t bring myself to start on. I live near D.C., so House of Cards is almost mandatory. Baltimore is not far away either, so I should catch up on The Wire. Most people are just happy to watch an episode here or there, but the last time I tried to catch up I found myself at 4AM on a Wednesday finishing up the 6th episode of Dr. Who.
Upon further reflection, I discovered I could actually break my life down into phases defined by the obession du jour.
The Larval Geek Phase
Some boys were into baseball cards, I used to memorize Dungeons and Dragons rulebooks. I had my small circle of friends in middle school and we would get together whenever our parents would drop us off. I was the Dungeon Master, which as an adult sounds way worse than what it actually was: a lot of work organizing everything.
I was so into being the “DM” that I started signing things at school “DM”, until this popular kid Zach caught wind. He said, “Hey why are you doing that? Is that like, Dungeon Master?” DAMMIT! HOW DID HE FIGURE THAT OUT?
Fortunately, even then I was good at thinking on my feet. “Um, NO! It stands for ‘Da Man’, because I’m Da Man, man.”
Screw you Zach. I heard you went bald in your 20’s and got really fat. Or I just imagined I heard that to feel better. Whatever. Jerk.
Later I got into Magic: the Gathering. In case you’re not familiar with the game, all you really need to know is that it’s competitive and that even the people that like it call it “Paper Crack.”
As in “Crack Cocaine.”
As in “Hey man let’s go smoke some crack!” “Sorry man I spent all of my crack money on Magic: the Gathering cards.”
What started as a fun way for my circle of friends to hang out quickly morphed into my next bona-fide binge. I learned to play tournament-level Magic and tried to convince my friends to do the same. Then I would bring my “professional” kit to play against their “amateur” kit, which turned out a lot like your high school Field Hockey team suiting up against the Oakland Raiders.
To this day, that group of friends still call me “The Fun-Sucker.”
During this phase I met the beautiful and patient eventually-to-be-Mrs. Nostrikethat.
The House-Hermit Phase
Despite all of my best efforts to sabotage our relationship, Mrs. Nostrikethat foolishly agreed to marry me. Somewhere between Magic tournaments a baby was born and I was cast out of the ranks of the young and nerdly for having incontrovertible evidence that I had actually touched a girl. I sold my cards for a few hundred bucks and floundered around for a while in a new-dad haze of sleep deprivation while snorting espresso powder and wondering what was the best way to get baby hork out of my leather jacket.
BTW- It’s “fire.”
One day a friend of mine said “Hey, I started playing this game, it looks like fun. It’s called World of Warcraft. You should check it out!”
5 years and hundreds of dollars later I awoke at the computer with a gaming headset on, clutching my mouse and screaming at the dog to heal the DPS.
My wife introduced me to the other two children she assured me we had.
They seemed nice.
I thought perhaps I should step away from the computer for a bit.
The day I sold my WoW account something inside of me broke. I have tried playing other games since then, but nothing has really stuck the same way. I even tried WoW again, but it was like going to your high school reunion only to find that your old crush did not age well at all and you dodged a major bullet there.
These days most of my commitments involve a lot more fresh air. I was, for a time, overly involved in scouting and ended up as Committee Chair, which as an adult sounds way worse than what it actually was: a lot of work organizing everything. Depending on how you look at it, I either went camping a lot or just got really bad at sleeping indoors.
Then there’s this thing with the kids’ swimming. I can’t just be happy with working the concessions at the swim meet. Noooo…. Concessions reeks of settling. No leadership opportunities in Concessions, no sir. What can you aspire to, Head Donut-hander? Not me, I am going to pick something with upward mobility, like officiating. Sure, the time commitment is about one hundred times more. And I have to wear a uniform. But I look smarter in a uniform, which is always a benefit when you are telling an irate parent their little Emma didn’t touch the wall with both hands at the same time.
So House of Cards? I’m sorry, It’s not you, it’s me. I’m just not ready for a serious relationship yet, where I can watch you every minute of every day until we are both consumed. Like Edward from Twilight, if I can’t have you… I’ll just suck the fun right out of you.