My beautiful and talented wife, Ellen McLain, was nominated for Best Performance by a Human Female at the Video Game Awards this year for her performance as GLaDOS in Portal 2. This was fun news to receive. I mean, how many times do you get news like that? Not often. Rarely. Almost never. Like, this was the first time for us. Have any of you received news like this? Let me know if you have. How did you handle it?
What made it infinitely more fun was Valve (the company that made Portal 2) emailing us and offering to fly us down to L.A. for the award show! Yay! Right? Yay! Good news! Happy news! Champagne and fireworks! Dancing in the streets! Calloo, callay for e’er and a day! Get this: Ellen didn’t want to go. She’s surprisingly shy at times and compulsively ethical. I mean it. It’s a sickness. If our representatives and senators felt a tenth the ethical compunction Ellen does we would probably all drive cars that run on pure goodness now and live in a society that produces no waste at all, only a pink cloud of effluvia that congeals into unicorns and laughing babies. She had a Christmas concert rehearsal that day. She simply couldn’t let her choir director down. I suggested that perhaps her choir director would be excited for her and want her to go. She didn’t want to risk bringing it up to him. No, no, no. We weren’t going to go.
Not only that, we had a book reading at Third Place Books in Seattle for my novel, Dancing with Eternity, the Friday night before the Saturday when the awards show was. (For those of you who have had much better things to do and haven’t gotten the word, I’m an author now and my first sci-fi novel released this September.) We would never be able to squeeze in a trip to L.A. I suggested that in these tempestuous times people travel in jet-propelled aeroplanes that transport them a thousand miles in a couple of hours. No dice. Wasn’t gonna happen. The Christmas concert rehearsal, the book reading. It was all Too Much.
We went out to do some Christmas shopping while I pondered the state of things. Ellen was just bummed. Purely and simply bummed. She works her whole life as an actress and is finally nominated for a prestigious award and she can’t go to the award show because we have to do a reading of MY book and SHE has a choir rehearsal. Bummed. Totally. I thought of what all the announcement had said: the show started at 5:00, the Red Carpet (RED CARPET!!! Just like the Oscars!!!) started at 2:30. As we perused some books at Magnolia’s Bookstore (and checked how many copies of Dancing with Eternity they had left) an idea came to me. I walked over to her and said, “I’d just like to see you on the Red Carpet. That’s all.” And walked away.
GENIUS! I could immediately see the gears turning in her head as her over-inflated super-ego warred with her id. By the time we left the store a plan was being formed whereby she would approach her choir director and test his flexibility in the face of good news.
Of course he was thrilled. She simply had to go. The choir would be fine.