Karen and I met Bob and Kathy at an ante-natal class. The four of us sat in the back row and sniggered like a bunch of skoolkids throughout the class. Bob was possibly the first person who I had met in the last 3 years (with the exception of people who I have met through the Internet) who laughed at my jokes.
The following week, we bumped (no pun intended) into them on a tour of a nearby hospital. After the tour, as they were walking back to their car and us to ours, Karen and I quickly agreed that we should invite them for a coffee. I changed direction and offered them our invitation, which they accepted. We met up at a pub an hour later, and coffee became a few pints, which then became a curry, and before you knew it the day was over.
This was just the start of our friendship. After the children were born, I’d go to the pub with Bob once a week, where we’d devour pints of beer and talk about blokeish things.
The last such outing was a couple of months ago. Bob was telling me about their new laptop, and how he was going to get broadband so that he could play World of Warcraft, because he’d played it at his brother’s house and it was ace.
“Right, the thing is, Bob, ” I started “I’m not going to tell you what to do, but please heed my warning. WoW is addictive. Seriously, seriously addictive. It dangles the carrot of fake accomplishment in front of you, making you believe that you are actually achieving something, when in fact you are chasing a moving target. It’s fine as entertainment, but don’t let XP rule your life.”
Bob nodded, and seemed to understand. Conversation moved onto other matters.
In subsequent weeks, Bob and I struggled to find a mutually agreeable date for our weekly pow-wow. Each week, one of us would suggest a day, but the other would be unavailable, and such negotiations ended up with stalemate. The following week, discussions would be opened by the other party, which seemed like a nice arrangement which meant that neither of us was doing all the running.
Until I found myself doing all the opening for a few weeks in succession. My text messages were increasingly going unanswered. When I phoned up, if the machine didn’t pick up, then Bob would say that he was a bit busy right now and would call me back later. Deep down in my heart of hearts I knew what was going on, but I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. A month ago I invited him for a beer in no uncertain terms, to which I got the rib-tickling response “sorry beenreallybusy”. The omission of spaces had a positively comical effect.
I replied “Okay, drop me a line when things quieten down, or if you need an evening to get away from it all.” or words to that effect. Since that message, there has been nothing.
Today, Karen and Bernard went round to visit Kathy and her baby Martin, who is exactly the same age as Bernard (±2 days). The truth was revealed, and it’s exactly what the eagle-eyed reader has, by now, deduced.
Bob has been playing WoW to a worrying degree. Every evening, after Martin has been put to bed at 8pm, he plays. He plays at the weekends, leaving Kathy to feel like a single mother. He would rather play this game than enjoy an evening of sparkling conversation and fruity ales at a local tavern with me. With me! HE IS CLEARLY STARK-RAVING INSANE!
So what to do now? Should I do something? Should I help? Does he even need help? Is it selfish of me to do nothing? Gah.