Have Patience with Pokémon
I think at this point, it goes without saying that dating a gamer requires a certain amount of patience. You need patience, for example, when he disappears into a game for hours on end, leaving you to amuse yourself by, say, doing the dishes. You need patience when he regales you with harrowing tales of his most recent adventure, or when he rants about the game’s latest “bitch move.” You need patience when his gamer friends come over and refuse to leave until 2, maybe 3 o’clock in the morning.
As it turns out, you also need patience when describing your gamer boyfriend to non-gamers. This is partially because non-gamers don’t really understand the language of gaming, but mostly because they cannot for the life of them comprehend why a 25-year-old man would be playing videogames, which (by their definition) are strictly for children.
“No, Dad,” I explained recently while having just such a conversation with my father. “It is now perfectly acceptable for a grown man to play videogames. It’s a lot like watching sports, but, you know, more interesting.”
“No, Mom,” I soothed my mother on another occasion. “I actually like playing games with him sometimes. And you would like the Wii, I’m sure of it. Did you know it has tennis?”
“No, Uncle Don,” I said reasonably while on a vacation with the extended family. “It’s not just a game to him. It’s really more of a hobby.”
This last conversation, incidentally, was in reference to Mike’s particular fondness for a game that, to my mind, actually is for children. You see, for almost as long as we have been dating, Mike has been obsessed with a little game known as “Pokémon.” You may have heard of it. And I’m not talking about the “passing phase” kind of obsessed, either. I’m talking about the Mother-Of-All-Obsessions. This is the one he never gets tired of. This is the one that he has logged (literally) hundreds of hours playing on his DS. This is the one that has asupport group.
You smile. She’s kidding, you think.
I. Am. Not. Kidding.
Mike belongs to a group of friends who get together on a semi-regular basis (usually at our place) for the sole purpose of comparing notes, sharing strategies, showing off new specimens, and destroying one another in the online arena. We affectionately refer to them as the “Poképals.”
Whenever the Poképals come over, I usually have a pretty good idea of how the night is going to play out. To their credit, they are actually a fairly decent group of guys, and they do make a point of talking to me and asking me how my life is going. However, we all know why they’re there. They may include me in a game or two of Boom Blox, but once the DS’s come out, it’s time for the battles to begin.
So, you may ask, how exactly does the occasional Pokémon Club meeting translate into an obsession? Well, the thing is, Mike is a breeder. He doesn’t just find the Pokémon he uses to battle with his friends. He may spend only 4-5 hours a month playing actual battles, but he will spend close to 40-50 hours building the “perfect team” that will help him destroy the competition. To date, he has at least three teams (that I know of), consisting of Ground Pokémon, Poison Pokémon, and Bug Pokémon. There may also be a Water Team, too, I’m not sure. Each team consists of six or so Pokémon that Mike will have spent days (sometimes even weeks) breeding.
The effects of his Poké-mania are inescapable. Our coffee table is constantly strewn with notes containing an indecipherable set of stats that somehow combine to form the “perfect Pokémon.” My laptop is somehow perpetually, and inexplicably, open to http://www.serebii.net/index2.shtml, which, as far as I can figure, is something akin to the Pokémon Breeder’s Bible.
Plus, he likes to talk about it. A lot.
And here’s the thing that really gets me: I listen. I can’t help it. Granted, I can usually tune him out when Ireally don’t want to hear any more, but somehow, Pokémon trivia sometimes slips through my filter. I will, in the midst of one of his lectures, find myself saying things like “Oh yes, Golduck. He’s the evolved form of Psyduck, right?” or, “Oh, right, Ludicolo! He’s the one with the funny hat who’s the scourge of the Water Types because he’s also a Grass Type, yes?”
You know, it’s bad enough having a boyfriend who is addicted to Pokémon. It’s another thing altogether when you take enough of an interest that you actually know what he’s talking about. I do try to maintain a certain amount of emotional distance, but it’s kind of hard to pretend that you don’t know the guy who’s standing in the Toys ‘R Us with a bunch of other kids (who are all 15 years younger and two feet shorter than he is), when he waves at you and shouts across the store, “Look, baby! I got a Manaphy!”
I just keep telling myself that it’s all about patience. Patience, patience, patience. It’s all about reminding yourself why you love this guy enough to tolerate his hobbies, weird though they may be. It’s all about remembering that his child-like excitement was one of the things that attracted you to him in the first place. So you take a breath, smile, and nod encouragingly as he recites all of the reasons why his Yanmega is the best Pokémon ever. After all, you figure, it won’t kill you, right?
Also, did I mention that we have a Pokémon poster in our bedroom? They all watch me while I sleep. Who knows, maybe it will kill me after all. Oh, well, at least they can’t get me while I’m writ