Before your silence drains the room, you should know this is something I’ve wanted for months. I’m sure you’re going to have a conniption, but before you do, before you screech that a Buck Shooter Pro belongs in some arcade or Appalachian truck stop, and not a fourth-floor apartment—well, fair enough. It wasn’t easy to get this up four flights. As for the door: the delivery guys had to take it off its hinges. I already got plenty of whining from them, so if you don’t mind.

Before you give me that look, the delivery guys said there’d be some fallout, relationship-wise. I don’t want this to be all about me. Let me ask, How was work? Has your migraine gone away?

Before you throw your armload of groceries clear across the room, I want to point out Buck Shooter Pro is no ordinary game. Top-of-the-line gameplay, killer graphics. It’s the ultimate wilderness hunting simulator. And before you bring up the money thing, remember my unemployment checks arrive every month.


Before you permanently revoke my conjugal rights, two things: Number One. It’s just a game. Like a Nintendo, only bigger, and with realistic-looking shotguns mounted on the front to gun down 3-D bucks as they nibble grass in a digital meadow. Totally harmless. And watch! To reload, you pump back like this and get a satisfying ch-CHK. Pretty cool, right?

Number Two. I forget what two was.

Before you start hollering about the china cabinet, how it belonged to Great Aunt Judith may she rest in peace, let me point out how careful I was dragging it from the wall. We can find a new place to put it. What about over here? Do we really need this piano?

Before you do that thing where you use only single-word imperatives—No. Out. Now.—remember how you weren’t in the mood for the entire month of February?

Before you stalk to the bedroom and slam the door, notice the Buck Shooter Pro comes with two shotguns, not one. I paid extra for that, so we can both play. You don’t have to shoot 12-point bucks, either. You can also blast smaller critters. Squirrels. Quail. See that family of quail over by the stream? Great for practice.

Before you say anything, is this going to be like when I bought those jeans and you said, How young do you think you are? Is this another one of those times?

Listen. Why don’t you try? The joystick moves you through the woods, and this button activates the scope when it’s time to aim.

Fine, I’ll show you. I think I see a buck, over in that stand of trees! See it? Nibbling at the elm? I’m gonna crouch here and wait. We only get one chance.

I should mention, you have to be careful what you aim for. If you hit a doe, not a buck—

Before you say anything, notice how incredibly lifelike the soundtrack is. You hear the animals padding through grass. The sweep of the wind. The crackle of insects. Play this game a while, you’ll be transported, immersed in field and woods until all you sense is your own heart pounding as you wait for your target. The perfect shot. Trust me, it’s incredible.

Before you start screaming, you really should try it for yourself.

Before you sigh, or cover your mouth and stare. Before you sit on the couch with perfect knees-together posture and wait for me to sit next to you, close but not too close, for a serious talk. Before you bring up that other thing. Before your voice cracks. Before we lose eye contact—

It’s moving! See it? Behind that tree? In just a second, we’ll have a perfect shot. It’s entering the clearing. Ready. Aim.