As soon as I walked softly over to Laurel’s desk and peered over her shoulder at the computer screen I knew that my life had changed irrevocably. Understand, this shocking revelation wasn’t a complete surprise. Looking back, I clearly should have seen it coming. But every husband thinks that somehow it won’t happen to him, that his wife will be able to resist the temptations that so many other women succumb to, now that the Internet makes it possible to establish connections in cyberspace that previously you’d have to engage in face-to-face.
Look, I’m no Internet virgin myself. So I guess it’s fair that Laurel now gets to do her own lusting. Let’s face it—it just isn’t possible to avoid all the provocative web sites out there. Often they seem to pop up on your computer screen by accident. For example, let’s say that I go to Google and make a few minor spelling errors in the search box, like instead of typing “Plato’s allegory of the cave” I hit a few wrong keys and instead type “brazen babes with big breasts” (this could easily happen when I was momentarily distracted, thinking deeply about some big philosophical question).
Then, when I innocently hit Google’s “I’m feeling lucky,” I’m accosted by some surprising images. Where is the Platonic content? It takes me fifteen minutes to check out the photos on each page of this web site before it dawns on me that I’m not going to learn about Plato’s theory of the Forms here. So, since I’ve had experiences like this, I could have understood if Laurel had randomly happened upon the page that I saw on her laptop screen. But the way she was staring so intently at some photos told me that this was no accident—Laurel had sought out this stuff, and she obviously was enjoying looking at it.
Call it man’s intuition, but I had suspected something was up quite a while before. It was Thursday night, and almost always we sit down to watch “Survivor” soon after it has finished taping at 9. I was especially eager to see the current episode because Boston Rob and Amber are really getting on my nerves, especially after Rob screwed over Lex last week. Hoping against hope (which turned out to be false), I thought that maybe one of them would get voted out this week. Yet now it was almost 11 p.m. and I was still killing time on the couch looking through the Oregonian while Laurel was intently bent over her computer at the other end of the room.
Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I walked over as quietly as I could (though I suspected Laurel wouldn’t be distracted by a firecracker going off next to her head, she was so into whatever she was into). This is a close approximation of the shocking sight that I saw (the actual page is only on Laurel’s computer). “Good God Almighty!!” went through my head, this being a sanitized version of what actually coursed through my consciousness. “She has discovered that dichroic glass jewelry can be bought on Ebay. What will become of us now??!!”
My next fearful thought was: what if a heroin junkie found that she could order her fixes over the Internet, pay for them with a credit card, and have them shipped right to her door? Wouldn’t this feed her addiction? Having just watched Laurel be drawn to every display case on Maui that held a dichroic glass earring or pendant, I began to visualize our VISA bill running on for pages, filled with $5 “Ebay order” entries.
But I began to calm down after my next not-so-fearful thought, which was “What if a book junkie could do the same?” Since this is my principal (publicly admissible) addiction, and our life hasn’t been ruined by the frequent Amazon.com packages brought to me by the friendly UPS driver and postman, I started to gaze upon Laurel’s computer screen with less trepidation. I even helped her figure out how to sign up for PayPal. And looking at the prices on Ebay, I realized that she could buy four or five pieces of dichroic jewelry over the Internet for the cost of a single earring or pendant in an actual store.
Passions, by and large, are healthy. Some craziness keeps us sane. I don’t really understand how Laurel can love dichroic glass the way she does, but then she can’t really understand how I can love my passions. Sitting on the beach in Maui last week I was as intently focused on watching the patterns and sizes of the waves, waiting for boogie-boardable surf, as Laurel was absorbed in the Ebay listings last night.
Uh, oh, I feel some Thoreau quotes coming on:
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away….I would have each one be very careful to find out and pursue his own way, and not his father’s or his mother’s or his neighbor’s instead.”