My wife Beth and I have been married eleven years. We’ve had our ups and downs like any couple, but one thing we’ve gotten right is we always support each other. When I took up guitar, Beth was behind me the whole way. When Beth got into photography, I hung her work all over the house. It’s not something we ever talk about, it’s just something we do. I’ve got her back, she’s got mine.
So when I really started taking Call of Duty seriously, I assumed Beth would be there as always, in my corner, rooting me on.
At first, Duty was just a way to kill some time, blow off steam. But it didn’t take long before I realized I was good—like scary Mozart good—and that I owed it to myself to see just what I was capable of. I’d been between freelance gigs for ten, fifteen months so the timing was uncanny. I committed myself, put in the time, and I’ve been rocketing up the lobby leaderboards ever since, ranking as high as 186,567 in the world. My handle is **//sTOPRAGeqUITTINg\\**. Maybe you’ve heard of me.
But whenever I try to talk to Beth about Duty and all the highs and lows that go along with it, she’s like a brick wall. And god knows she never asks me about it, even though she knows how much it means to me. Almost like she’s hoping it’s just some phase I’m going through.
Last Tuesday morning I was playing a match with my clan [H1N1] and I went 24-6 and got final KillCam. Naturally, I texted her:
Went 24-6! Unlocked psycho-clown gun camo! Step to this BITCHES!!!
You know what she texted back?
In a meeting
Wow. I understand work comes first, but in the time it took her to type ”In a meeting” she could’ve typed ”Great news!” or ”So proud of you.” Or how about a simple smiley face? How hard would that have been? My headset mic was on so I told the guys in my clan Beth wasn’t exactly behind me on the whole Duty thing and FU_HARD137 said ”Is it because you’re a fucking douche?” But the way he said it I knew he meant it in a I-feel-you-bro kind of way. Plus his voice hasn’t dropped yet so you take it with a grain of salt.
I don’t know. She seemed fine when I was just plodding along at work, taking up the odd hobby. But now that I’ve found something I can really sink my teeth into she’s all weird about it. Like the other night I was playing—running my ninja class with akimbo .357s, straight blasting fools—and she was sitting on the couch doing our taxes. I said, ”Check this out, hon. This dude’s head explodes.” And she nodded like she heard me, but then I watched her and she never actually looked. Here I was trying to open up, share a piece of my life, and she couldn’t even bother to act like she cared.
The last thing I want to do is overreact. Just because Beth’s not as supportive as she used to be doesn’t mean our marriage is on the rocks. But the fact that she seems to be shutting me out just as I’m really coming into my own does feel like a red flag. I’ve tried to include her. I told her there are plenty of women who play and she said so does Bill and Cindy’s kid, the heavy one with the Oxy problem and the gaping hole in his life. I’m not sure what one thing has to do with the other, but I could tell by her tone she’d rather put a pin in the discussion.
Thad Kenner is a former newspaper editor who currently writes ad copy. His previous work has appeared in Hobart. He lives in Petaluma, California.