Our columnist may not be squandering his children’s inheritance at the roulette table – but he is slightly troubled by an embarrassing addiction.
Everyone has their own secret, their personal vice, their dark side. And that’s good, because at the core we’re all fragile, corruptible beings, and even the strongest amongst us have their weaknesses.
My wife doesn’t know everything about me. She knows a lot, such as the fact that I have what others might consider a serious pickled gherkin habit; she knows that shopping for socks invariably drives me round the bend because I can’t decide whether to buy socks sized 39-42 or 43-46 because my shoe size is 42.5; she knows that I have a serious aversion to – nay, a phobia – of centipedes and will shriek if I spot one. She knows a lot – but not everything. I have a secret. It’s not a particularly dark secret. I’m not having an affair with a world-famous actor or indulging in some hanky-panky with a neighbor. I don’t gamble in casinos and neither do I smoke crack. To some, I may seem like an ordinary guy, possibly even verging on the dull: just your average human, father and man. But I do have a small confession to make. I love games. No, not in gambling dens or online poker sites… I am familiar with men who will go to bed with their wife, turn off the lights, say “Goodnight, honey” or a variation thereof and will wait until the spousal breathing becomes reassuringly regular or turns into a gentle snore. Then they whisper, “Are you awake, honey?” If they don’t get a reply, they slip out from under the sheets and tiptoe out of the bedroom under cover of darkness like a spy in an old black-and-white movie – only to spend the next few hours in front of a garishly illuminated screen. They gamble, play poker or any of the myriad games available online until the next day dawns, placing bet upon bet until they’re exhausted – and thousands of euros poorer.
That’s not for me – it’s far too much hard work. My particular vice is much tamer and the costs are no way as high. I have a weakness for video games. Or rather, one particular game. It’s called Gran Turismo and is a pretty amazing racing simulator with an incredible choice of cars. The first version launched in Europe in 1998, and the seventh release arrived not long ago. My name’s Max and I am a Gran Turismo addict. There – now it’s out!
It’s probably to do with the fact that I was once a child … and still am a child to a large extent. In my youth, two things were important: playing and cars. I was a complete car freak. I’m older and more disillusioned now: I drive a deeply unglamorous estate car praised in all the reviews for its sturdiness and value for money. I have kids, and the last thing you need is a Lamborghini for obvious reasons related to practicality… the boot is laughably small and the rear view? Honestly, forget it!
The video game costs under 100 euros, and for this modest investment you get to drive all the cars you dreamed of as a youngster. The newest release, Gran Turismo Sport, offers a staggering 150 models, which is a pretty impressive fleet. And I can drive every single one without harming the environment or contributing to overcrowding on the roads. There’s never a ticket under my windscreen wiper.
These days, I trot cheerfully to my small office in the best of spirits – which surprises my wife no end, as I am notoriously not a morning person. But rather than booting up the computer, I switch on the games console, plant myself in front of the screen, joyously returning to my youth, driving computer-generated cars, fast and furious, my working day officially ends. Then I call my wife and say, “Honey, I’ll be back a little later today.”
Not that I would ever admit it. The shame of it! An adult playing a car game instead of working; wasting valuable time when he could be creating something meaningful – how childish! Never, ever will I reveal my secret. My wife will never know. It’s mine to take to the grave. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go for a drive …