It’s my fault. I should have seen the telltale signs. When I walked into the room he would pop up the screensaver on his Mac. We’d sit in the living room watching TV and his mind was elsewhere.
Several times I caught him staring lustfully into his Mac’s screen. Instead of doing household chores or playing with the kids, he’d be glued to his Mac as if in a trance, his heart obviously miles away. The truth hurts.
5 Stages Of Mac User Grief
All the signs were there. When he was at work I would search his Mac for illicit email messages but it always came up clean. Ditto for browser cookies. I had to admit it. Life was changing.
After a dozen years and three children, my husband obviously had a new love.
I walked through all the steps (thank you, Kübler-Ross), starting with Denial. “This can’t be happening to me.” Then it was on to Anger. “Why me? He’s the scoundrel.”
On to Bargaining and my own personal rationalization, then to Depression, and finally, just when Acceptance was ready to walk in the door, I caught him red handed.
Memories, And A Digital Plaything
Maybe he was too engrossed in his onscreen activities to hear me walk up behind him. What I saw on his Mac’s screen shocked me. There it was. Full motion. Living color. Not even all that attractive.
A digital locomotive. That’s right, a train, chugging along digital tracks on his Mac’s screen. It had become his play thing, and he was playing—trains. It wasn’t email or photos from a home-wrecking hussy. It was a toy train.
Specifically, iRun Trains. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this one is worth more.
My husband was in to trains. He felt bad about it because it was taking time away from me and the kids. In effect, it was digital cheating of sorts. My competition was a train on a Mac screen.
As a child, my husband had a train set. Trains, tracks, bridges, fake water, fake trees, fake people, fake engineer’s life. For a month he’d been playing trains on his Mac, avoiding his wife and children to satisfy a childhood memory.
Admittedly, I had mixed emotions. Laughter and relief.
Trying hard to maintain composure as the emotions tore me apart (mostly the laughter), I asked him to show me what was so freakin’ cool about a train set on his Mac that he’d be willing to risk losing everything that was so dear to him.
Alright, that’s a bit melodramatic, but I was curious to know my competition. As it turns out, it was not all that, and less.
iRunTrains is a 3D model railroad. A digital toy.
It’s like an onscreen Mac version of what little boys played with when they hadn’t figured out little girls. It’s a virtual train set. You know, “Choo, choo!”
Different geographic layouts. Different trains and cars. A controller to control the speed and direction of a train or multiple trains on your own little boy model railroad. There’s nothing to see here. Move along.
This must be a guy thing. I mean, I had a couple of Barbie dolls as a little girl, but as an adult I don’t play with onscreen Barbie-like models, swapping clothes and homes and Kens to bring back childhood memories.
Out Of The Closet
As it turns out, there are all sorts of train-like things for big boy engineers. There’s Rail Modeller to build your own model railroad layouts. TrainPlayer so you can take your model railroad fetish on the road. And Mac-MoVe so you can put all your little model train toys into a database, because that’s what big boys use. A database.
Now my mostly faithful husband is out of the closet and devotes a little less time to his onscreen Mac adventure—chugging and choo-chooing along the digital tracks, going around and around and around and around (seriously, that’s all they do).
I’m just glad we have three girls. He’s always wanted a boy named Lionel.