Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Guilt: The Gift That Keeps on Giving*

I was not raised Catholic, nor am I Jewish, but they’ve got nothin’ on me in the guilt department.

Hubs and I have an odd relationship, to some. For us, it works. It is probably deep-seated in my “only child syndrome”. That’s what he calls it. It fits. Yes, I’m an only child. No, I don’t like to share, and I have always been able to keep myself entertained. I have four children, a husband, three dogs and five cats. I still don’t like to share. Go figure.

A typical evening will revolve around the television. His and mine. Yes, two different televisions, two different rooms. He is a junkie for the Military Channel, the History Channel, NASCAR racing, an occasional football or basketball game, and every rerun ever shown of “The Hunt for Red October”… or “Danny Boy”. Yeah, he likes John Candy, too. Strange combination, but it works for him.

Me? I’m more into the BBC Mysteries, CSI’s, Lost, and feed in most of the dramas on television that actually have a plot. I don’t watch the reality shows after the second season of Survivor I got bummed out by the plotting and scheming and decided most of it was probably staged anyway. I’d rather watch my plotting and scheming by professionals, thank you very much. I also don’t like commercials, so am known to tape (no TIVO) the shows I want to see, then do marathons of jammie days when I’ll watch hours (okay, maybe months) of tapes at a time.

So he takes over the living room (or the family room and the big-screen TV when he remembers it’s there) and I am usually found in the master bedroom, or in the wintertime when I want to be near a fireplace I go to whichever room he’s not using, be it living room or family room. No, I’m not trying to avoid my husband. It just works out that way. (Throughout the evening, we’ll generally drift through on the way to the kitchen or the bathroom or just make a lap to make sure the other one knows we’re still there.) Generally, while I watch TV I’m cross-stitching or crocheting or knitting or doing something like that. Multi-tasking is my middle name. If I’m not watching TV I’m reading or on my laptop computer playing WoW (World of Warcraft).

Herein lays the guilt.

When my daughter and her husband got me into this game, I played a lot. It was a new experience and fun and something I was better at than I ever thought I could be. For all my computer experience over the years (did I mention we started with a Commodore 64 and thought it was really something?) I’d never gotten into computer games. I never felt comfortable with the controllers of the Nintendo or the Playstations, so it didn’t become something I ever felt I could do. (Okay, I did / do have a Gameboy and a Tetris champ I was, but that’s about it. That can hardly qualify as “computer game”.) WoW was not only a fun game, (as a computer geek I was amazed at the graphics and attention to detail), but because of the chat features, I was able to talk to my daughter daily – in real time – as well as play with her. It was great. I was hooked. I found out my elder son and his girlfriend were both playing and I got my other daughter involved. At the time she was living out of state and again, it became a terrific thing to be able to get online and play and chat every night.

When we got together, we would all start talking about the game. We’d talk about the other people we knew who played, and we even had some who we were meeting in real life! (…and did! It was great!) It started out slowly, a comment here, a comment there, and pretty soon it became a full-out statement from Hubs: Stop Talking About WoW. Can’t we talk about anything else? Um…yeah… I guess.

I became self-conscious about WoW. I started watching when and how much I talked about the game… or the people in it. I started being uncomfortable when Hubs would come home from work and find me playing, or would come into the room after dinner and I would be playing instead of watching some crap on TV. Not wanting to sneak around behind his back, I just stopped playing unless I went to my daughters’ house or I knew Hubs would be gone for the evening to the races or some other pre-occupation that took him away from home.

Now, before you all start yelling at Hubs for this, let me remind you that he did nothing. This was ME. This is my own self-imposed guilt.

I don’t understand why I feel this way. I don’t understand why the guilt is so strong. I haven’t done anything wrong! I know this! It’s a terrific and creative game and I’ve had so much fun playing with everyone… I’m known as the “guild mom” … the one who asks everyone the questions and gets to know them better. I’m more out-going on WoW than I ever can be in person (until I get to know you). It’s very freeing. So why the guilt?

I swear I’ve got enough hang-ups to fill a closet.

*Erma Bombeck