One night, I walked out of the bathroom to find him propped up in bed, clutching the DS Lite and scribbling furiously on the touchpad.
I felt suddenly, inexplicably angry, as if I'd caught him drinking straight from the milk carton or wiping his butt with a hand towel. "What are you doing?" I tried not to shout.
"Playing Professor Layton," he said, gesturing with the stylus. "You weren't kidding; this is really fun-"
He trailed off, noticing I was still standing by the bathroom. "What's wrong?"
I felt so intruded upon I could barely speak. "That's my DS."
I frowned, fumbling for the right words. What about this situation did he not understand? "That's my DS."
He stared at me for a moment more, then shrugged. "Sorry," he said, closing the DS with a slightly petulant snap. "I didn't mean anything by it."
Realizing I had perhaps overreacted, I slipped into bed, pulling the covers tight and nestling in close. "Do you," I asked in a low, coy voice, "do you maybe ... want to watch me play?"
He laughed deeply and slid an arm around my shoulders. "Of course," he said. "But I'm not telling you the solution to that puzzle you were on."
Any armchair psychologist will tell you that the secret to lasting marital success is strong communication. My husband and I have gone a step further, cobbling together over the years our own distinct lexicon of obscure references and incomprehensible metaphors based largely in part on the games we've played together. Our speech is littered with Legend of Zelda quotes and Resident Evil idioms, with Secret of Mana metaphors and puns ripped straight from Grim Fandango. In many ways, our common language is so deep-end-of-the-pool geeky that I can't even begin to distill the geek from non-geek parts: When you name your car "Tifa" and your goldfish "Dogmeat," where can you even begin the translation?
I realize that to outsiders, we may sound like toddlers or excited chimpanzees, endlessly amused and infatuated with the sounds coming out of each other's mouths. But the thing is, it doesn't matter, because my husband understands me and I him, no matter how thick and unintelligible our Geek Speak becomes.
And here's what I think my grandfather was really getting at: Laughter is more than just marital glue; it's a signal that you've successfully established a new language, a new culture - the family unit - out of two separate and disjointed lives. Marriage isn't just a partnership, but an act of creation, with laughter as its crowning achievement.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I went out to a bar with some friends. Although I can't remember the exact reason now, I kept whispering select Monkey Island quotes into his ear. And even though he hadn't touched his beer, the poor guy couldn't stop laughing.
Finally, one of his friends leaned over to him and asked for his keys.
"What? I'm not drunk," he insisted, red-faced and weak.
"C'mon, dude," said the friend knowingly. "Nothing is that funny."
He looked at me, tears rolling down his cheeks. "She is," he said. "She's goddamn hysterical."
Lara Crigger is a freelance science, tech and gaming journalist and contributor to The Escapist. Her email is lcrigger[at]gmail[dot]com.