After those grueling hours, there was nothing Joe liked more than to come home, wrestle with Jamie, rub my back, and crash in front of his computer. Sometimes, though, I would wake up in the dark and find myself alone in bed. "Well, okay, maybe you could give them a call," I suggested, eager to clear the air with my parents.
Wandering into the next room, I'd see Joe sitting in front of the screen, bathed in a flickering blue light. "If someone went to a bunch of porn sites, I don't know anything about it. I watched as Joe dialed their number and calmly repeated what he'd said to me. Furious, they told him he was lying and that he wasn't welcome in their house anymore. The next day, out of the blue, he said something I'd been waiting years to hear: He was ready to have another baby.
"This site is for younger children, and we do a lot of things to stop that sort of behavior for the audience," he said, when asked about dating within Club Penguin.
When I'd ask what he was doing, he would say, "Just surfing," then turn off the computer and come to bed. During the week that followed, the sting of my parents' accusations faded. As I turned on his office monitor, Joe was playful, cracking jokes as he relaxed against the wall.
But now my parents were suggesting that something serious was going on. They could say whatever they wanted, but obviously Joe was a committed family man. I had a nice time, but on the drive home, I couldn't stop thinking about what my mother had said after Joe phoned her. "He's lying to you." Turning to my husband, I confessed that I wanted to check out his work computer, so I could reassure my parents they'd made a mistake. I went to his web browser and immediately found a bookmark for a topless site, but he just laughed, saying a colleague had put it there as a joke. With Joe waiting, I scanned the documents he'd saved to his desktop. "I'll stay with you," I finally said, breaking the silence.
We'd just come back from visiting my parents with our five-year-old son, Jamie.
"When Dad went to retrieve the bookmark from the trash, all these porn site addresses came up onscreen." "Really," I said, trying to sound nonchalant.
Fortunately, all of it — the park, the boy, the prom — was merely virtual.