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Mad About Racing You

Doing something you both love is what's important—not how silly it seems to others

Now don't tell them I told you this, but my husband, Steve, and I have some pretty strange friends. With hobbies ranging from kite flying to candle making, we don't need to get out the funny papers for a good laugh. But with Steve and me around, neither do they. Kites and candles may not be our thing, but we've got a weakness of our own.

Remember Atari? "Pong," "Pac Man," and "Frogger"? "Arkanoid," "Tetris," and "Donkey Kong"? Well, they're back. And no one knows it better than we do.

My arcade-crazed husband spent hours as a kid sampling the best that technology had to offer. A game, he would tell you, is a delicate balance of sounds, pixels, and just the right amount of rumble. He's a true connoisseur.

While I don't share Steve's breadth of animated experience, I've got depth. Let me explain. How many ghosts does Pac Man repeatedly chomp on? Four. What are their names? Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde. Yes, Clyde. Are you with me?

Our shared pixilated passion became more apparent after we were married. Before watching a movie at the theater, we'd race to cash dollars into quarters and duke it out on speed boats. To avoid spending all of our cash "impulse playing" at arcades, we finally invested in our first game system. And we're getting our money's worth out of it.

We love racing games: be it boats, cars, spaceships, or frogs. We love exploring new racetracks and showing each other short cuts. We love doing stunts in mid-air, competing for the best lap time, and putting our initials into the score box. It's the little things that matter.

But for us, the best part of playing is the we: We love games. We share this crazy pastime. That's what makes it fun. It isn't a hobby that one of us fights against for attention, unlike some other pastimes I know of (football). Instead, it's on our list of activities that we enjoy doing together, and that list is always worth adding to.

So, does grunting at each other count as quality time? Does laughing, crying, victory-dancing, and trouncing (especially after losing a particularly difficult race that someone unjustly won because a certain joystick really wasn't working this time)? Sometimes it's the things you don't say that bring you closer together.

Our games are about being together and not necessarily doing. They're about taking time to relax, resting from work and routine, letting down our guards, laughing together, and just being foolish around each other (hey, it's got to come out somewhere). It's a precious time.

There are many things we like to share together— coffee talks, taking walks, and great movie classics. But there's something different about playing together. It reminds us that we can be silly in front of each other and still take each other seriously. It allows us to glimpse rare, pre-college-era footage of our personalities, which is eye-opening to say the least. Most of all, it's our fun way of deepening our friendship. And it's our friendship that gives our marriage extra strength.

It's not all fun playing games, though. You see, when I get absorbed in, oh, stenciling for example, I can't go too long before Steve gets bored and bugs me to do something with him. He keeps me from getting all hung up on the walls. And when we go to the golf range to hit a "few" balls, it doesn't take long before I'm starving, thirsty, and need to sit down. I keep him hydrated and fed, especially when the greens are calling his name.

But with our shared passions, the security of a less interested spouse isn't always there. It's a team sport, and it takes both of us to maintain healthy self-control. When something we enjoy together gets in the way of other responsibilities, that's when we re-evaluate. We just have to stay alert (especially when old Atari games are re-released).

Sometimes I wonder what others think when they see two adults gawking at video games at the store. But it doesn't really matter. The fun that we have and the closeness it's brought is worth the eyebrows. And after all, it's just between the two of us.

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Adventure; Fun; Marriage
Today's Christian Woman, Fall, 2001
Posted September 30, 2008

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