I caught my husband “clicking off” the other night. He didn’t think I saw him, but I did. I was walking through the dining room, the room where we both have our laptops, and use as an office until the kids get rid of the stuff they’ve been storing in their rooms and finally move out, only 12 years and counting! Anyway, as I was walking through from the kitchen I caught Jim’s elongated pointer-finger nervously clicking-off as soon as he heard the sound of the martini glasses shaking in the china closet as I walked passed it. I’m sure I’m not the first wife to catch her husband clicking-off, and I won’t be the last. However, it got me to thinking, “What are people clicking-off to?”
Some men (and women) click-off to porn. My husband’s porn is Google Earth. Every time I catch him clicking-off I see the globe of the earth fade to black on his computer screen. It’s true, he likes to float across the universe and see the earth from the moon; he’s also been known to trip on the Milky Way more times than most men his age with young children should, but his real obsession with Google Earth is the flight simulator that they have. You have a choice of flying two models: a Cirrus SR-22 Propeller Plane or an F-16 Jet Fighter. You know he’s in the cockpit of that jet fighter, goggles and air mask on, looking for the Taliban’s version of the Red Barron. I always feel that whenever I startle him and he clicks-off mid-flight, somewhere in cyberspace his mustached-avatar is bailing out of the cock-pit, free-falling through some virtual universe, waiting for Ground Control to rescue Major Tom.
I decided one night to confront him about this. I told Buzz Aldrin that he didn’t have to hide these things from me; he was old enough to discipline himself. If he wanted to be a fighter pilot on Google Earth, who was I to ground him? I explained that everyone clicks-off to something, and it was nothing to be ashamed of. He seemed embarrassed, but relieved that finally, his secret was out in the open.
I have virtual ADD—I click-off to everything. Whereas I walk through the dining room, Jim continually walks in and out, so I’m rapidly clicking-off Facebook, eBay, the NY Post, TMZ, Amazon, and any site with shoes. Some nights, I Google and click-off so much that my hand hurts the next morning.
I decided to tread dangerous waters and ask some of my girlfriends if they ever caught their husband clicking-off. Most of them seemed relieved that their husband’s weren’t the only ones. There was one woman who swore that her husband never clicks-off; he loves her too much and goes to mass every Sunday. My guess is that he clicks-off more than anyone; she just turns a blind eye, or saves it for the confessional.
One friend’s husband clicks-off to Fantasy Baseball. He used to do it openly until he became so agitated at Disney last year because the hotel’s wireless wasn’t working (it was Fantasy Baseball draft weekend) that she forever forbid him from Fantasy Baseball. She said that he now clicks-off all the time because he doesn’t want her to catch him at it.
My other friend’s husband is an old-gadget collector; he’s always surfing eBay for old computer boards, orphaned electronic parts, old stereos, you name it. She said he doesn’t do anything with these antiquated purchases, he just piles them in the basement until he has time to rebuild them into something. She said the basement is so cluttered that she warned him if the UPS man left another box she was going to smash it. Now she hears him clicking-off whenever she comes into the room, and she suspects he has a P.O. Box on the side.
The virtual world has turned most of us into virtual insomniacs; we stay up into the early hours of the morning pursuing different identities—fighter pilot, major league baseball manager, inventor. Yet, we keep clicking-off to keep secret our hidden selves and protect the passions we’re not ready for the world to see.
“Ground Control to Major Tom: Come to bed now!”