I Am a GTA Widow

The last two evenings I’ve been a GTA widow.

Surely you know what GTA is. If you don’t, you must not live with a man between the ages of 5 and 85 years of age.

GTA is a video game formally known as Grand Theft Auto. And version five finally came out on Tuesday. (I only say “finally” because I’ve been aware of its much-anticipated release date for months. MONTHS.)


Check out this hilarious and spot on Buzzfeed post for more on the excitement surrounding Grand Theft Auto.

Honestly, my personal house partner, XFE doesn’t really play video games that often. He isn’t one of those man-zombies who sits on the couch all weekend, pointing a handheld device at a blaring television set, frantically punching tiny little buttons and cursing that the machine doesn’t seem to be recognizing his Herculean efforts to save the world from….what, exactly? Auto theft? I’m not really sure. There is a rather intricate plot involved in GTA, but I’m not very invested.

Anyway, it’s the one game he likes, and for that, I’m grateful.


So, after dinner the last two nights, he’s very kindly asked if I cared that he skipped TV time with me, and played GTA instead. I know the query is merely a formality, but it’s nice that he’s so considerate.

The arrival of GTA in our house actually came at a good time, as far as evening-couples-time-television watching is concerned. It’s kind of a slow time when it comes to reality TV. The Real Housewives of Orange County are off getting their faces rejuvenated, no doubt. The Beverly Hills edition is still a few weeks off. Jungle Gold doesn’t appear to be returning after its overwrought dash out of Africa.

More importantly, my other recent reality TV obsession just concluded this week: American Ninja Warrior.

If you had told me a month ago that I would become emotionally invested in a TV show documenting a multi-stage competition between a bunch of ego-maniacal, testosterone-dripping dudes, I would have assured you that such an event was about as likely as me and Miley Cyrus engaging in a twerk-off.

But, somehow, I’ve been holding my breath and clutching my overpriced decorative throw pillow through every episode of American Ninja Warrior, right up till its gripping and fairly unsatisfying conclusion this past week.

For those who don’t know, American Ninja Warrior is the Americanized version of a Japanese televised competition called Sasuke. Hence, the Ninja in the title, I suppose.

The goal is to complete a series of obstacles to reach Mt. Midoriyama and be declared the winner and claim the $500,000 prize. Each of the three stages has 4-6 completely impossible obstacles with names like, Jumping Spider (that’s one where you have to jump up and traverse through two large acrylic walls hanging over water – no floor or railings or anything like that) and the Double Salmon Ladder (which involves hanging from a metal bar and jumping the bar and yourself up an ever higher set of parallel hooks), or the Hang Climb (a typical rock climbing wall with hand grips, but instead of being vertical, it’s horizontal. Oh, and it’s upside down.).

jumping spider

I’m telling you: these obstacles cannot be done by ordinary people. AND, it’s a one and done thing. You fall in the water during one of the four regional qualifying rounds, and you’re out. No second chances.

Salmon ladder. You have to move upwards.
Salmon ladder. You have to move upwards.

Well, that’s not entirely true. They did give out a few wild cards to get 100 contestants in the finals. But still…Insane.

Hang climb.
Hang climb.

And that’s how I got sucked into the show, I think. These people weren’t so much to look at, but they were able to accomplish the most amazing feats of strength and agility. Every time they would unveil a new stage with an all new set of obstacles, I would be like, “Ummm, yeah, that’s not even possible.” Then some wiry rock climber/musician from Utah with absolutely no calf muscles but apparently fingers made of tempered steel would come in and just breeze through something called the Doorknob Grasper (set of five completely turning doorknobs from which they must hang and swing between. Did I mention the doorknobs turn 360 degrees?)

doorknob grasp

Plus, did I mention most of the stages are timed? Yeah, they had to complete the obstacles within 2 very stressful minutes. Crazy.

Not surprisingly, in America Ninja Warrior’s five seasons, no one has ever completed all four stages. In fact, nobody’s ever even completed stage three—all though this season one guy came really, really close. He fell on the final obstacle in stage three, the Flying Bar. I nearly had a seizure on that one.

They also announced plans for an upcoming USA versus Japan matchup, which will probably put my heart straight into arrest.

I suppose in the meantime, I could work on my own finger strengthening exercises, perhaps by pushing XFE off the X-Box and playing some GTA.