Once Upon A Time, A Gamer Dated This Girl Who...
I've often said that although gaming has become mainstream, the thoroughly out-of-touch remain annoyances and even hindrances in the lives of gamers. For this editor, tonight was a prime example of how far we've come...and how far we have yet to go.
So I'm at the mall - not a place I necessarily wanted to be, but I needed to pick up something before the weekend - and although I anticipated a crowd, I figured I'd just run in and run out. It'd be a pain-free endeavor and if the mob wasn't too bothersome, I'd even stop by GameStop to consider an impulse purchase (which likely wouldn't happen, but humans have the tendency to make plans that never come to fruition). But on the way to my initial objective, I feel a light tap on my shoulder and I turn...lo and behold, it was my ex, who was looking all radiant in a bright red sweater, tight-fitting jeans, and long black hair held back in a loose ponytail. The cold had reddened her cheeks and two thoughts hurtled toward each other in my head, on a deadly collision course. Thought 1- "Damn, she looks great." Thought 2- "Damn, when she turns to walk away, I'm going to trip her." The result? The two thoughts collided and I was left smiling and shaking her hand like an accommodating idiot.
Now, although I hate to do it, I need to break off on a wee tangent so the reader can fully appreciate this encounter. We were together for a few months during the summer, and throughout that expanse of time, things were relatively relaxed and laid-back (I don't do it any other way). She never really understood what it was I did for a living, but at the very least, she accepted it and was even willing to learn more about it. She is not the kind of girl that grew up with video games; she was the Homecoming queen of her high school and went to college in Florida. She's now a legal assistant and of course, has aims of becoming an attorney in the next few years. Thing is, I don't really date much, but "smart" and "beautiful" don't typically go together, and besides, she's the one who first pursued me. Arnold knows more about this story, and he also knows basically why we broke up. I'd rather not get into it, but let's just say another guy was the catalyst.
He was only one of the people she considered a friend who I absolutely abhorred, primarily because they all slowly poisoned her mind throughout the course of our relationship. The lawyers she surrounded herself with, perhaps not surprisingly, looked down on my certain position in life, and most certainly believed she should be with someone better. They continually made "polite" insinuations that it "wasn't healthy" for someone my age to still be playing video games - a sentiment that makes me seethe more than just about anything - and in the end, I couldn't combat the deluge of negativity. She saw these people every day, especially this one guy who I met briefly, and although she said they never had an impact, I knew they did. So anyway, this one guy in question - we will call him Mr. Pretentious Jackass for now - had the gall to talk down to me the entire time we all went to a movie together. I won't repeat some of what he said, but one thing was when we were leaving and he saw my 350Z. He paused and said, "hey, you know, when you're doing better, I can give you the name of a Mercedes salesman who's really cool."
I'm not a violent person, but he's lucky he survived that comment. Not only would my Z have toasted his slow-ass E-class, but I could've twisted this idiot in knots... The mere fact that he figured he could torment me, despite the size difference, was a testament to his supreme state of mind: "I'm a lawyer; he can't hit me." My ex didn't really think any of this was a big deal, which is what eventually ended the relationship. So anyway, back to tonight, she's standing there and we're making small talk (the kind of small talk where you want to wince and die, just because it's so trivially stupid), and guess who shows up by her arm? Ah yes, Mr. Pretentious Jackass. His first words- "hey...still playing with your toys?" It was actually comical. He says this, nose in the air, looking up at me from his slight 5'9, 170lb. frame, me contemplating the sound of broken bones as I look down from my 6'3, 230lb. - and may I say at this point, quite powerful - frame. I've been an avid weightlifter for 7 years and this guy has never picked up anything heavier than his briefcase. Which, by the way, probably held nothing but crackers. Idiot.
So yes, no matter what I did, I could not battle the stereotype that, quite honestly, had a hand in actually ending a relationship. No matter what she saw, no matter the evidence...I was still just an 11-year-old in a 30-year-old's body in their eyes. My past didn't even factor in. My Psychology degree, my publishing history that involves four newspapers, one magazine, three websites, 100+ feature articles for places like FOX, industry experience in music, comedy, and television, and high-profile celebrity interviews; it was all irrelevant. I even had the upper hand going in, as this girl honestly didn't have a problem with any of it, but the power of suggestion from that circle of legal geniuses permanently altered her outlook. She didn't even blink an eye when the "toy" comment was uttered, and that simpering smile still sat plastered on her face. Her Armani-wearing friend there didn't even have the respect to laugh or eye me nervously; it was a legitimate shut-down insult designed for no other reason than to injure.
My response to this whole thing? Eh. If this was 5 or 10 years ago, I might've reacted differently, but when someone is my age, one should be content with their lot in life. Or, if not content, at least secure in who they are, and I walked quietly away from those two, firmly acknowledging the following facts:
A. I've worked hard to forge a writing career for myself, and while I have many more goals, I am proud of what I have accomplished so far.
B. I've rubbed elbows with certain people Mr. Pretentious Jackass has probably only had wet dreams about.
C. Physically, I'd own that fool. Mentally...I'd own that fool.
D. She came up to me, and I broke up with her.
Yeah, that's right. Bitch. ;) The rest is all quite obvious: although I'd like to say that game journalism is as equally respected as any other writing profession, it's not. Sadly, we still have a loooong way to go.
11/28/2008 Ben Dutka