My friend Stacy and I were quietly sipping cocktails on my patio last night when she suggested that we play a game.
"Anything but Scrabble," I whined. I consider Scrabble to be a form of ritualistic torture. I always get stuck with a long string of letters from the nether region of the alphabet—the severe letters that fall between "T" and "Z" and seem to have no other purpose than to make French words impossible to pronounce. The game leaves me feeling stupid and humiliated. As a result, Stacy drags out the Scrabble board every chance she can get.
"No, it's a new game," she said. "It's called What Makes Me Destroy Every Relationship I've Ever Been In. The rules are simple. We each have to say why we find it impossible to maintain a healthy relationship. The most self-destructive person wins."
"Well, that doesn't sound like a very fun game," I said. "I've got a better idea. Let's play What Celebrity Would I Have a Reasonable Chance of Sleeping With. I'll go first. Susan Sarandon! Catherine Deneuve! Isabella Rossellini!"
"I'm sick of that game," Stacy sniffed. "You always pick Susan Sarandon before I can. And what makes you think that any woman with a foreign accent would want anything to do with you and your provincial ways?"
"OK, then let's play Who Would I Invite To My Fantasy Dinner Party. I'll go first," I said. "Hmmm, let's see. Jesus Christ, of course. Susan Sarandon. Catherine Deneuve. Isabella Rossellini…"
"No, let's play Which Of Us Is In More Desperate Need of Therapy. I'll go first," Stacy said, furrowing her brow and pretending to think really hard. "Ummmm, I guess I'd have to say the answer is you. Yes, you are in more desperate need of therapy than I am."
"Yeah, but only because every woman I'm attracted to shares an uncomfortable number of similarities with my mother," I said.
"I've begged you to get help for that," Stacy said, putting her hand on mine and staring up at me with a soulful look that I was supposed to interpret as friendly concern.
"Here's a good game," I said in retaliation. "Who Among Us Slept With Her Women's Studies Professor (Who Happened to Smell Like An Uncooked Chicken and Had A Bad Habit of Spitting When She Spoke) And Still Managed To Get Only A C-Minus In The Class?"
Stacy pushed up the sleeves of her shirt and fixed her dark eyes on me. "How about this old favorite: Which Person Sitting On This Patio Tricked A Married Woman Into Going To Bed With Her By Telling Her That Sex With Another Woman Would Clear Her Chronically Infected Sinuses?"
We sat back in our chairs and glared at each other.
"So," Stacy said, finally breaking the stalemate. "Do you want to play Scrabble?"
"Sure," I said. "But I get to use a dictionary."