I arrived home a little later than usual last night. My partner and I fought our way to the finals of the local Friday night Luck of the Draw. I parked my car quietly and tiptoed my way into the bedroom where my wife and dog had fallen fast asleep hours earlier. Moments after slipping between the sheets I was out like a light.In my dream, dozens of understanding eyes followed as my wife walked slowly to the front of a crowded room. As she began to speak I must have rustled nervously in my slumber. "My name is Marylou Seigel," she began gravely, "and I am married to a dartaholic." She then weaved a story of sorrow and dispair. "I just didn't recognize the warning signs." "When Paul and I first moved in together twenty years ago and consolidated our belongings I noticed an old dartboard crammed into a box full of pictures of old girlfriends and his high school letter sweater. I asked him if he threw darts. He said the board was a Christmas present from his parents and that he'd never even hung it up. I now know that the board actually hung on the back of his bedroom door throughout high school and college and that this is why he nearly flunked out." (What! That's a filthy #@$! lie!) "Still, if you've ever seen my husband you know that he's a real hunk of a man. An Adonis actually. I remember one time when he was digging me a vegetable garden and his crispy chest hairs glistened as he perspired in the summer heat. Let me tell you, that made my knees weak. I wanted to jump his bones right then and there." (Ok, now this dream is starting to get good!) "Paul was a good husband. He used to leave little love notes for me around the house -- in the cupboards and under my pillow. He took out the trash. He cooked. And he was a good father too. He bought our daughter a little golden retriever named Colby -- which I now walk and feed while he plays darts. Colby's getting old so occasionally he has accidents in the house." (Apparently then you either feed him too much or don't walk him enough, eh?)
"I now know that Paul was an addict. He was struggling to keep his sickness in check. I feel guilty because I think it may have been me that pushed him back over the edge." "It was sometime in 1987, I think, that Paul and I went to dinner with friends and I made the fateful mistake. The restaurant was full and we had to wait in the bar for a table to clear. There were some people throwing darts at a board. When they finished their game, the winning couple asked if we wanted to play. Paul declined -- said he didn't play darts." "But I persisted. 'Give it a try, honey', I said. And because he loved me so much he reluctantly agreed to step up to the line with my friend Donna. They won! I was so proud of him. He did it for me. "I was truly surprised, but supportive, a few months later when Paul suggested he might join a darts team that was sponsored by the little restaurant. I thought it would be good for him. His job was so full of pressure. I thought playing darts might relax him." (Relax! Want me to relax? Check out the crispy chest hairs, baby!) "That was almost a dozen years ago now. It's scary to think back. What was once one night out a week has become Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Paul throws for two leagues, the Eagles and the Moose. He goes away to weekend tournaments." (Hey, the Eagles and the Moose do great charity work!) "Five or six years ago it really got bad. He set his suits out on the front porch for the Salvation Army and replaced them with darts t-shirts -- and he wants them ironed! (Hey, I got a tax deduction!) His job takes him all over the world, sometimes for weeks at a time, and I found out that he spends his evenings throwing cricket with whores! When he started publishing a column about his exploits his friends started calling him 'Dartoid'. And then Paul, whose endearing nickname for me used to be 'Scribby', began calling me 'A Gruesome Lilly' and 'A Mere Oily Slug' which he discovered he could spell if he rearranged the letters of my name." (It's your name. Don't blame me.) "The strange calls began in 1996. 'Dart people' Paul calls them. Characters with names like Thumper and Bear and Bones. These aren't names of people -- these are names for rabbits and dogs and Halloween monsters! Just the other night John Part called from Canada wanting to know if Paul had finalized arrangements for a trip they were going to make to Bangkok. When Paul arrived home from his Tuesday night league I asked him about the call. 'I didn't know you were going to Bangkok?' I said. And Paul replied -- I can still hear his very words: 'Jesus Marylou. Part's ranked sixth in the world. Why didn't you give him my number at the bar!?'" (A very reasonable request.)
"My house is full of junk. Tattered flights are everywhere. Tournament fliers are stuck to the front my refrigerator. Paul has four dartboards in his office. He wants to hang one in the family room and another outside on the deck. Honestly, until I saw your advertisement -- for spouses of dartaholics -- and read your list of six warning signs I thought, maybe, all this was normal. But my husband has every single one of the signs!" "He's tried to stop playing darts for a week or so but never can last more than a day or two. He damn near goes crazy." (Give me a break. How about if you stop buying shoes?) "He gets angry when people tell him he has a problem with his darts. He'll lock himself up and throw for hours -- working on his stance, grip and release." (I do NOT get angry, dammit!) "He's tried switching from steel-tip to soft-tip and from Hammerheads to Powerpoints -- but he always goes back to his old standby." (Since when is loyalty a problem?) "Some mornings after a long night of shooting he wakes up and can't remember what happened. He'll just say, 'I had the outs and I just couldn't hit 'em.' Are these blackouts?" (No way Jose! These are momentary lapses only and they are the result of brain cell loss which was caused by three decades of trying to understand women!) "He's skipped work to throw darts. Missed birthdays and anniversaries to play. He says he can stop anytime. But I know he can't." (Yes I can. Yes I can. I JUST DON'T WANT TO!) "Yes, my name is Marylou Seigel and I am the spouse of a dartaholic."
As my wife stepped from the lectern and walked back to her seat among friends, my eyes popped open. In the light that filtered through the bedroom shades I watched as the digital numbers on the clock ticked methodically towards 8:00 a.m. Saturday morning. I stepped into my slippers and padded my way to the kitchen where my wife sat sipping coffee from her favorite cup while reading the morning newspaper. "Want some eggs?" she asked. "Nah. Thanks, Scribby. I think I'll go out a dig us a little garden. Wanna come and watch?"
From the Field,