Sunday, February 17, 2008

When the cat’s away, the mouse sits on the couch

When my wife Kara recently announced that she was planning a girls’ weekend in New York City with some of her friends, my thoughts immediately turned to the provisions I’d need to sustain myself in her absence, namely video games and Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips.

To those who might think that video games do not qualify as survival necessities, I submit the following story.

Kara’s good friend from college, who for the purposes of this column will be named Martha, once decided to seduce her college boyfriend. She bought lingerie and spent a bunch of time in the bathroom doing, I don’t know, whatever girls do in there to make themselves look better in their own minds when they look perfectly good already.

When she slinked into the living room to suggest her ideas for the evening’s itinerary, her boyfriend didn’t look up from the TV screen.

“Not now,” he said, mashing the buttons on the controller. “I’m in the middle of a really good part.”

After some more discussion that really could have benefited from the application of the pause button, the evening ended with her exit from the apartment as he continued playing.

“I got turned down for sex because of a video game,” Martha complains whenever her long gone ex-boyfriend becomes the topic of conversation.

Upon hearing this story, every one of my guy friends has the same reaction. They’ll shake their head in disbelief, pause for a moment, then ask, “What game was he playing?”

When they ask this question, they’ll already be fishing in their pockets for their car keys, getting ready to roll through all the stop signs on the way to Best Buy. Surely, a game that good warrants at least a rental.

To anyone who worries that the current generation of young males is too obsessed with video games, may you at least take some solace in the fact that their chances of procreation are looking pretty slim.

Even though I’d miss Kara while she was gone, I was looking forward to getting some quality time with my much-neglected PlayStation 3. While some men may have taken offense at getting ditched by their wives for the weekend, I was glad that she’d have the opportunity to dance at a nightclub with her friends without involving me, potentially getting it out of her system.

In my life, I’ve seen maybe two guys who would qualify as good dancers and an equal number of girls who would qualify as bad dancers. The reason for the inequality is not immediately evident, but it’s my hypothesis that women have an extra hinge in there somewhere.

The objective for any male on the dance floor is to dance well enough to keep his partner (oh, please say there’s a partner) entertained, while blending enough to become invisible to everyone else. I’m 6’4” tall, which makes blending very difficult. When I’m dancing, I feel like one of those cell towers that’s been done up to look like a tree. Standing meters above all the other trees, I just keep saying, “See? I’m a tree, too. Please don’t look too closely.”

After Kara and her friends departed for the big city last weekend, a couple of my buddies came over for an Assassin’s Creed marathon. Sometimes we ordered pepperoni, sometimes we ordered half-pepperoni-half-plain. It’s important to have variety in your diet.

After one particularly gruesome kill, blood spraying all over the screen, my buddy Allen said, “So was Kara excited to get away for the weekend?”

“Yeah, but she was worried that her clutch didn’t match her outfit,” I replied.

“Her clutch?” he asked. I assume he was raising one eyebrow, though I didn’t press pause to look.

“It’s, uh, a little purse,” I replied, ashamed.

“Where I come from, a clutch is something that engages a transmission,” he said. That used to be where I came from, too.

You can do the Hustle with Mike Todd at


  1. We only have video games for the kids here as my husband has no interest in them. No, instead we have Nascar. All Nascar all the time. (except off season, whoo hoo!) The man has a graduate degree from seminary, but when the race is on, the brain goes off. It's cool though. Gives me an excuse to read all afternoon instead of hitting the laundry.

  2. Yo dude! Video games for kids? Who ever heard of such a thing? Make sure they understand that in Grand Theft Auto, you can get your money back from the hookers by running them over. It's important for the next generation to be fiscally prudent.

  3. Ha! Actually, aside from the THREE DS's we have, the kids are really into Toontown. It's fantastic and so well done. My 3 year old plays it on his level and my 8 year old goes with an entirely different skill set. The problem is, since this game is live. when you're three year old is playing alongside some drunk 47 year old. And the forums tell me I'm far from kidding. Still, gotta love a world where jelly beans are currency and pies and squirt gags are weapons. I kind of want to live there.

  4. That sounds pretty cool! So if you run the hookers over, do you get your jellybeans back?

  5. So what video game was that guy playing?

  6. 717 -- You know, I never found out. This happened back in the early aughts when I was in college, so it was probably a Commodore 64 game or something. Taipan, perhaps. Or Oregon Trail.