speechless

by Jinryu

I was lying on the couch in my apartment, playing Mercernaris 2: World in Flames on the Xbox 360, when [Terminator] came in.

“What? Why aren’t you playing Mass Effect 2?” he asked, astonished.  For those of you who don’t know, Mass Effect, the original, was one of the best NorthAm-style RPGs (as opposed to what I consider Japanese RPGs) that I’ve ever played.  (Find more info on Wikipedia, or on the dedicated http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Mass_Effect_Wiki.)  It is, standalone, one of the most complete and immersive worlds ever created in fiction, let alone space opera science fiction.  And then they made a sequel.

“I only found out about it like… yesterday, to be honest,” I explained, as I drove my hijacked Chinese anti-aircraft armor through a shantytown, sending ripple-reinforced sheets of tin and dirty wooden planks flying everywhere.

“And you didn’t buy it?”

“Well, it was sold out. That, and I don’t have money at the moment.”

He threw up his hands.

“Oh my God, you’re such a liar!”

You see, Terminator always gets on my case about not my money spending habits, but the lack thereof– my money saving habits.  It is one subject on our small list of subjects which we can never see eye to eye on.  In part, because I think his perspective is stupid– and in part, because I don’t take the time to go through explaining my point of view to him.

We handle our lives very differently, you see.  He tends to, as he says, live more in the moment– I see that as living from paycheque to paycheque, with barely a four figure account in savings despite that he’s turning 28 this year.  I’m not rich, but his smart-ass estimates that I’m worth low six-figures probably aren’t untrue, lets leave it at that.

The thing is, we’re similar in that we’re not working university education career jobs.  I didn’t need to finish univeristy to get the job that I have now, nor did he to get the job that he has.  We’re both good at what we do, but lets face it– we’re not earning six figure salaries.  We’re quite content if we hit that 25k mark without too much sweat per year I think.

But there’s one thing that I understand that he refuses to believe– we’re not going to be young forever.  And some day, when the work runs out for our young bodies, a government pension isn’t going to do jack squat for us.  So, I’ve started saving.

It comes down really to a different standard of living– he needs way more entertainment than I do.  We got into another debate a half hour after the Mass Effect thing– he said that we could use a blu-ray player. I jokingly suggested he should get a PS3, since it makes sense– it’s pretty much the most cost effective blu-ray player out there after all.  He said he’d be up for that– at which point I said I didn’t want one though, why would we need it?  The Xbox handles everything I need gaming wise, since there are so many titles I haven’t even played yet. We could just fork out the 40 bucks or so for an HDMI cable (since mine didn’t come with one) and that’d already be an upgrade.

You see, I don’t care 400$ enough to upgrade from DVD quality video to blu-ray.  It would be nice if everything was sharper, but really?  Does that mean that because we can, we should?

The Mass Effect 2 issue is the same.  I have no doubt it is a good game– but do I need to pay that premium to play it now  when it’s over 60 bucks on the shelf?  As it stands, I’m actually discontinuing my Blockbuster Gamerpass membership (which lets me rent unlimited games per month, one at a time, for the cost of 30 bucks per month) because I want to save those 30 bucks.  It’s not because I’m being cheap– but Zack borrowed Elder Scrolls: Tales of Oblivion, Assassin’s Creed 2, and Boderlands.  If you’re not into games, you don’t need to know them to understand my argument– I have more entertainment than I have time for, and it’s free.  Why would I stockpile more that I won’t use, or won’t appreciate?

I’m the kind of person who likes to cook, doesn’t necessarily like to do dishes.  I love cooking for [Supergirl], I love it when she cooks for me. There’s a certain je-ne-sais quoi that just makes everything taste better.  At the same time, when we go out every now and then, I’m not just paying for food, but for the memory of it– the atmosphere, the walk, the talk.

Terminator though buys takeout food almost everyday for himself and his gf (my other roomie) SoCool and, when you add up the bills, that’s an easy way to burn away your wallet.

I usually wait for tuesdays to watch movies.  He sees them when they first come out.

I go out to the bar with friends, occasionally.  Maybe once a month? He smokes marijuana almost daily.

It’s not rocket math to see how it is that I save at least 40% of my salary, still manage to pay all my bills and my rent, and even some of my family’s.

Does it seem like I’m looking down on him?

In some ways, I do.  Simply.

And it’s not because of our different choices in lifestyle, or our networths, or whatever– it’s this whole attitude that he’s got to ‘teach me’ something about enjoying life.  THis isn’t to say I have nothing to learn about enjoying life, and that he has nothing to teach– but a take no prisoners attitude doesn’t serve much good. I enjoy my life quite a bit, thank you very much.  But you don’t see me going around and starting shit with people because I don’t agree with the way you live.

Mind you, if you ask my opinion, I’ll tell you– I’m not shy about my decisions in life, and I have though through almost everything as much as I can.  There is reasoning behind everything I do, and if you want to discuss it with me, maybe you can add to it.

But to just waltz in and call me a liar when I say I have no money to buy Mass Effect 2?

THat sounds like a silly trigger.  It needs some clarification.  It isn’t that I don’t have money.  And it isn’t just that I don’t have money to waste.  It’s that he and I have different priorities in life– why should his be any more important than mine that he thinks he’s got some right to try and make me look cheap?  It’s a personal attack, really.

That night, I was kinda sick, so I wasn’t in the mood.  That, and I make a habit of not arguing with Terminator.  It’s a choose your battles sort of situation.  I respect him intensely as a friend because he’s solid backup if I’m ever in trouble– he’s dependable whenever I ask and he’s made up of mostly good moral fibre. However, his effectiveness, like the effectivness of many (including myself) also means that he can be a total asshole at times, and there is simply no arguing with assholes while they’re being assholes.

I don’t take him too seriously because if I were to confront him about it, he’s just back down and joke it off, and because the conflict wouldn’t be worth the reward in our apartment setting.  But still….

So I just play the bigger man, and sorta let it drop.

I’m not sure if it’s a testament to how close we are, that we know which buttons about eachother to push and to not push, or if it’s a testament to how little we actually trust or give eachother credit for, that we don’t really get down to the nitty gritty.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Supergirl and got into a bit of an argument the other day.  I’m not comfortable writing about the context of the argument because she reads this Xanga now, but it’s not entirely relevant in any case.

The important part is that I’m trying to like… enforce this transparency between us.  I like that word: transparency.  You hear it a lot in politics.

It’s not that I expect her to tell me everything, nor that I need to tell her everything (stop it with your cliches!) but anything that’s really important is something we can probably work on better together.  This is something that means that, yes, we’re going to butt heads, we’re going to hurt eachother, but at least we’ll be living a real relationship instead of something built on the fantasies of one.  It’s kind of a new approach for me as far as relationships go, but necessarily so– with my previous relationships, I guess that if I had to sum up the reasons why I’d suggested breaking up, it was over lacks of communication.  There was a disconnect between what was being said, what was, and what was being done.

With Supergiril, if I may now be allowed to use a cliche, things are different.  I worry intensely about making her unhappy.  It’s always something that I worry about.  But not so much that I will avoid an argument with her about something important to us.  Part of why I love her so much is because she’s tough like that.  If she wants the truth, she can handle the truth.

Looking about it, there are very few people with whom I have this sort of relationship.  [Zanshin] is one.  I think if anything reaffrmed that to me it’s when we spent time out in Asia together– it didn’t break us, simply.  [SiB] is another.  We were talking about women a week ago, and I told him:

“I’m glad you’re dating again.  It’s much better than the SiB who is single and hating all the time.”

“Thanks.”

“I mean, don’t get me wrong,” I added.  “We make fun of your dating habits all the time.  But you’re doing the right thing!”

“Wait.  What do you mean? ‘We make fun of your dating habits all the time?'”

Well, the thing is, [SiB], in my circle, is considered to be one of the sleaziest and promiscuous of our friends, jokingly.  But only jokingly, because we love him, and at least he’s putting in efforst to fine the one for him.

“You bastards.”

“But we mean it in a nice way.”

At which point we got into a bit of an argument, but one of those ‘not-really’ arguments where he’s mostly deffending his pride and reputation than really disagreeing with us.  But image aside, he’s a solid guy who we can tell the truth.  In the end he knows that I, we, beleive this of him, and that’s why we can call him names and get into fights with him about anything, because he does it and we do it because we care.

It’s so hard to find people like that in our lives, isn’t it?

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