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Somewhere in the purgatory between married life and singledom, Drew lives a life of negotiating boundaries, better tomorrows and practicing domestication. The guy with a girlfriend isn’t quite the tamed beast that Harry Husband is. Nor is he the cunning trim investigator he once was. He is Grooming in Gotham, making a way to his ideal partnership by crafting apology letters and birthday cards. He’s going to dinner with friends he’s never had before, and doesn’t want to have later. He sacrifices himself to be part of a pair in the hopes all this is worth it.

Having a girlfriend is the bee’s knees, fellas. It is a privilege in the modern world. You can discard the concerns of hunting in packs at a crowded nightclub, baring your teeth and lingering outside with the hopes of snagging the lady with Patron-shots-Wooo! on her breath. You can avoid the pitfalls of random sex and PNS (post-nut shame). You are now crossing the threshold into manly maturity (oxymoron?) for better or worse.

But after the sweet perks are realized, and that love’s nestled snug in your heart cavity, you have to find much more in your partner than you once bargained for. Your flaws are starting to show. There are bras on the shower curtain. The peanut butter jar don’t close like it used to. The drowning tedium of unwashed dishes gives way to petty beefs and sarcastic retorts. While arguing is a tactical sport in itself, competing through it never goes anywhere productive. (“Oh, so now it’s about my mother?!”)

We address the tension with a board game for the ages. When the checkered board with the red and blue tiles comes out, it’s time to make an argument for superiority. And she’s expertly good, which is enjoyable for me because I fancy myself a gentleman’s champion. But I am a cad when we play Scrabble. This way, I’m subdued enough not to make sarcasm my entire vocabulary, and we can actively dislike the intentions of the other. It’s hot. More than the healthy tension between two players making forty-point plays in heated succession, we show a mutual respect. I’ll never be weak enough to tell you all the rules to the game you just learned, but I might slip and let you look up a word in the middle. Your feminine ways are too smart and agile for me, after all.

However, the respect dissolves with every smirk and jab about a one-up.

Her: You haven’t been yourself this game. You like to lose now?

Him: Not as much as you…considering I won the last five times.Her: What? I beat you twice recently! You wouldn’t give me that though.

Him: The last game was NOT finished and you know that. Are there Scrabble fairies in your fantasies who tell you new truths?

Her: That’s why I don’t like you.

Him: I’m glad that it’s out in the open.

A few more plays down the line, it’s always tied or close. I’m making up words and daring her to challenge them. She’s saying I keep looking at her letters. (I’m not. That’s just how she cheats.) The level of mental manipulation steps up.

Him: You’ve gotten a lot better recently. I’m only up by 37 and your scores were never this high.Her: You should serve that with a pat on the back to be more patronizing next time.

Him: Now I can’t even compliment your improvement without being the bad guy…there’s honor in 2nd place.

Her: That’s 46 for tryptich pluuuus 9 for cow…I made a 55-point play!

Him: You hold the score sheet every game. I never talk about that, about how you cheat.

Her: There’s another way to settle this you know…

Word. Having a girlfriend is the bee’s knees, fellas.

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