This week there’ll be no irreverent nonsense, no puns or bad jokes, because I need to share my predicament with you:
My wife hates Magic: The Gathering
Not in a "fire and brimstone" or "choose between me or it"-type way, but it’s getting close.
She plays other games, but has never found any particular appeal in our beloved CCG. And while my own enthusiasm for the game has increased immensely since
a) Giving up Standard and concentrating on draft,
b) Getting a decent ranking,
c) Joining a serious Team (Go! Fighting Hellfish UK!), and
d) Getting this writing gig off the ground
Karen’s enthusiasm for all things card-sized has diminished in equal proportion. My attention is
elsewhere, you see; as a Martian, my cave has become heavily-sponsored by Wizards of the Coast.*
During the week, I have to work away from home, so she’s left to look after our three cherubs -this is hard work. On the other hand, I can play Magic on a Monday night in Maidenhead, Tuesday night in Hemel Hempstead, and Wednesday night in Aldershot if I so wished, but I could equally stay at my digs and watch water evaporate from the beday – it matters not to my spouse. However, it DOES begin to matter when I want to play in a PTQ, or visit a premiere event e.g. Grand Prix, Pro Tours.
Because these all, invariably, take place at the weekend – time that I should be spending with the family (especially as I’ve been away for days). Out of curiosity, and a certain element of defensiveness, I asked my wife if she would mind if I gave up cards and played for the local Cricket team, spending a few evenings per week practicing, and Sunday afternoons playing in a League? She said that would be fine, because sports are something the family could be involved in (if not actually able to participate); with Magic, its not at all practical to manage a six, three, and one year old in a creaky Village hall surrounded by folks who don’t want little kids touching their decks.
Am I being selfish?
Well, I would say "yes and no" – here are some of my reasons I could use (and have used) to justify my continued participation in Magic, despite spousal protests:
a) I don’t need or want to visit EVERY weekend tourney – only the big ones, and they don’t happen that often, do they? ("Everything in moderation" sort of sums this up)
b) Everyone should have a hobby or pastime – that’s only healthy
c) We all know plenty of folks for whom hobby is priority one, and everything runs a close second (but you can’t cite ‘other people’ as an excuse, because their experience and reasoning and circumstance are all alien to your own), and
d) For the first time I’m having a measure of success in my chosen hobby, and I want this to continue – what’s the point of all those free and accepted week-day evenings, if I can’t turn that experience into something more worthwhile?
Now don’t get me wrong, I love being with my family; I miss them dreadfully while I’m away, but does that mean I love them any less for wanting to play in a big event, an important event that takes me away from home? My wife, therefore, sees me choosing M:TG over the family, whereas I see it in the same way that I view my job: I hate leaving, but it’s something that I feel
needs to be done.
What am I trying to say? Well, I suppose it’s that regardless of problems and controversy within the game itself (and we’ve all heard about them ad infinitum), my own relationship with Magic: The Gathering is always hanging by a thread – and that, if the truth were faced, sometime soon (or maybe never) I may have to cut that thread for the good of everything else in my life. This, of course, applies to us all – be it because of family, a partner, a job, a new hobby, physical changes etc – someday you too may be forced to choose. In that case, what would you do? Which side of the fence would you come down on?
I believe this is what Alice Coggins touched on in her infamous ‘Keeping Magic In Perspective’ article and what underpinned much of Jamie Wakefield verbose asides (maybe he’s always had a better handle on the fragile nature of this relationship, which would explain his intermittent ‘breaks’ and the seeming ease with which he takes them).
The bottom line is that, if it came to the crunch, I love this game but I love my family more.
In the end there is no choice at all.
P.S. I’m not about to quit Magic yet or anything, I just needed to share these few thoughts.
P.P.S. Another Thong From My Thongbook…
(to the tune of ‘There Are Worse Things I Could Do’ from Grease)
There are worse things I could do
Than attend a P.T.Q.
Even though my wife assumes
M:TG: My life consumes
I suppose it could be true
But there are worse things I could do
I could sort out every card
Lay them out across the yard
Fill the dining room with decks
Talk ’bout nothing else but ‘tech’
Stack my commons in the loo?
That’s a thing I’d never do!
I could learn all Magic facts
Spend my dough on booster packs
Occupied with casual play
I’d play my life away
On a dream that may come true
I could hurt my family
Treat their lives so selfishly
I don’t steal and I don’t lie
But I can feel and I can cry
‘Specially when they’re feelin’ blue
But smearing everything with poo
THAT’S the worst thing I could do !
* – See "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" by John Gray, Ph.D.