When we got engaged, she was able to move to Marion, which was much closer to Iowa City and allowed us time to spend together. But we still did not game together, as she did not understand how it could be fun, how "those kind of games" worked, etc. One day I hesitantly invited her to play Munchkin with us. I don't know how that idea got into my head. Maybe I thought the comedic tone of the game would be helpful in acclimating her to the nerd side of games. Maybe it was that the game is played solely with cards, no board in sight. Regardless, I wanted this to work. This was the woman I would spend the rest of my life (the rest of my turns) with. I wanted to share this with her. Up to this point, our gaming experience together was restricted to games of the Risk or Apples to Apples variety. The standard fare, so to speak. And Dearie hated Risk.
We gathered around a table in my friends' apartment and dealt the cards. The confused look in Dearie's eyes as she surveyed her hand did not bode well. "What do I do with these?" she asked incredulously. We explained, we gave examples, we played a few practice hands, and finally she understood what she was supposed to do with her cards: they were supposed to be played. In front of her.
I sort of got lost in the game, as one does when playing Munckin. It's sort of like a drunken haze, but fueled by cardboard and ink rather than alcohol and bad choices. I remember looking at Dearie to check on her status, to see how much she hated me, how much she was reconsidering marrying this card carrying, certified lunatic. What I saw, however, was something completely different.
She was glancing from her cards to me, cards, then me. And there wasn't a look of confusion, or hatred. There was the glint of mischief in her eyes. And then she hit me with a Wandering Monster, a Bullrog, and then with a smirk she laid down another card to make it an Intelligent Bullrog. My fate was sealed, and as my character died I couldn't be happier because at that moment I knew that my future wife would also be my future player two.
Now Dearie participates in all of my board game escapades, including Talisman and Small World, among others. She has even (just recently) agreed to take part in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign I will be creating. Games have become one of our favorite past times and despite the inherent competitive, sometimes even cutthroat, nature of these games (e.g. Munchkin, a real home wrecker) they have made our relationship stronger. Perhaps it is because they allow us to take out our frustrations with the other person in a non-harmful way. Perhaps it allows us a momentary block of the difficulties we are experiencing that day. But more importantly I think, it allows us to share time that is care-free and just have pure, unadulterated fun together as the family that we have become. And I know that we will continue to carry that fun into the family that we will be.