“If your girlfriend told you to quit playing video games forever or she’d leave you, would you do it?”
This question was posed to me by a customer on Monday night. I had previously helped the customer, so we were on familiar enough terms, I suppose.
I looked at him, smiled patiently (or, as I like to think, wryly), and replied: “Well, given that my girlfriend is more of a gamer than I am, I doubt that would ever happen. I’m probably the wrong person to ask…”
He seemed momentarily surprised, but he didn’t give me the response I usually get when I answer questions related to my girlfriend being a gamer, which is typically some expression of how cool and awesome and rad my girlfriend is (because too many people are still surprised to find that females actually play video games and play them well, I guess).
Then his cell rang, and he answered it.
His girlfriend stood there, a smirk on her face. I asked her if this was an actual issue. She nodded yes. We exchanged small talk for a moment, and then she moved away to browse.
Eventually, his call ended. I decided to be both honest and diplomatic.
“To answer your question… if something like this happened, I imagine we would have to have a conversation, in order to find out
- if there’s something behind her demand (some deeper reasoning);
- if there is a possible compromise;
and what we want to do with our future. I would ask myself, if this really matters that much to her, (what do I value more?)…”
[I’m remembering this conversation later, obviously… so I can’t remember everything that was said, as remarkable as this conversation was.]
“Is playing video games really the most important thing to me? Is this the person I want to spend the rest of my life with? Have a family with?–”
He cut me off:
“Already had that. Wife, kid. It’s over.”
“Ok.” (Why am I not surprised?)
“I guess if this was your only woman… see, I don’t have that problem. I mean, I have a girl, but she’s not the only one out there. There’s a lot of women out there. And I pull a lot of women, you know, so I don’t have to worry about that.”
[“And I pull a lot of women, you know” is an actual, 100% authentic quote, by the way. I felt like I was dreaming. It was bizarre. Meanwhile…]
During this astonishing statement, I was looking back and forth at him and his girlfriend, who went to look at something on a shelf a dozen feet away about halfway through it. She shook her head in amazement and, without looking toward him, said, “Sure ya do, sure ya do.” He didn’t seem to hear her.
I decided to directly answer his question.
“Well, in my case, if that was something that she felt truly felt was important, and we really wanted to spend our lives together, I would quit playing video games.”
“All video games? Like, computer games, consoles? Everything?”
He didn’t seem impressed, but I’m not the kind of guy who “pulls a lot of women,” so I really didn’t care if he was or was not. He joined her to look at whatever she was looking at, and I played parts of the conversation over in my head, trying to remember them so that I could write them down here.
* * *
For many people, video games are a serious hobby, a favorite pastime, and/or a culture. I understand those things, and experience/participate in them myself. And I’m in a relationship with someone who plays more games, more often, than I would/do, and plays them better than I would/do. So the likelihood that she will present me with an ultimatum like this is minuscule, at this point.
However, there may come a time when that changes. And when that happens, I’m confident that we will work through that change together, regardless of who initiates it. And I doubt it will come in the form of an ultimatum, anyway. But if moving forward meant that video games went on the back burner (or even completely out the window), I think it’s important to recognize that there are times when that may be necessary.
Of course, as I was experiencing this conversation, I was observing the couple. The first thing I thought was that these two people seemed very different. They were companionable in a way, but it seemed like this was a foreign world to her. He obviously values playing NBA 2k14 on his PS4 very, very highly – possibly more highly than he values his relationship with her. She doesn’t get it (playing video games), or thinks it’s a waste of time, or feels like the relationship is one-sided and that she has to fight him for his attention – I don’t know; in fact, I don’t know much at all about either of them. Watching them, though, I got the impression that they weren’t very compatible, and that she was mostly living in his world, and wasn’t very comfortable doing so. In a different dynamic, I’m sure that a compromise could be worked out if they talked about their issues and each made concessions to one another in the name of bettering the relationship, but I wasn’t counting on that happening in this case.
But what do I know?
As I said, not much. Well, other than that this young woman was not a gamer – which is fine, because we are all different – and that I considered the guy to be solidly douchebag-material. And I wasn’t comfortable with that. I’m not comfortable with people being disrespectful to others, and to see such a lack of respect on display wasn’t fun. But I couldn’t say anything. In cases like these, my job is to sell as much stuff to the customer as possible, and to give good service, in spite of any BS like this. And I couldn’t have changed his mind anyway.
I thought that I was as fair in my response to him as I could be – recognizing, of course, that this wasn’t a person who could be reasoned with, given that he and I are, pretty obviously, about as far apart as noon and midnight with respect to our personal philosophies and interpersonal behaviors…
It was food for thought, and a remarkable exchange to witness and to be a part of. I’m still shaking my head, thinking about it.
* * *
Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!