Under-the-covers brothers


What began as an investigative project to determine the phrase to define another guy who has boned your girlfriend evolved into an exploration of masculinities caught in limbo. Juxtaposing interviews and artistic reproductions of personal experiences, this article seeks to establish a new frame of reference for an awkward phenomenon that is commonly experienced and rarely discussed.



CASE STUDY 1

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It's Super Bowl Sunday, and circumstance has forced me into the abode of the great adversary. He is tall, broad-shouldered and fit.



Within seconds of entering the apartment, a light-footed golem erupts from the congested collage of black and gold streamers. He embraces my girlfriend with a cruelly obvious familiarity: a closed-eyed hug that lingers, confirming a sneaking suspicion.



I am shaking his hand.



He greets me coolly. Confident our other half has kept his secrets, confidant he has the upper hand; he asks me who my team is. I scan the living room. My answer is obvious: ""I'm a Colts man, myself. I always love to root for the bad-guy team."" I know nothing about football, but even if I did, what else am I supposed to say?



I am eating his guacamole.    



My compliment about his culinary skills is met with aloof resistance. There will be no male bonding for me this Sunday afternoon. I am an enemy combatant entrenched in the hostile territories of awkwardness, insecurity and doubt.



I am comparing our speech, our looks, our everything.



I'm quick to scoot my girlfriend out of the apartment at half time, thanking the maker that there's another party to go to/the Colts are still ahead/I have been emancipated from the malicious, inevitable clutches of their history.



CASE STUDY 2



Sometime close to 2 in the morning, I wander into the living room looking for my girlfriend. I don't register that he's talking to me until I feel hands on me: light, quick instigation without palpable threat. I'm too surprised by the contact to follow the conversation. All I catch as I re-enter reality is,



""… in here like a bitch?""



He stands, staring, waiting for my response. It is clear despite the miasma of booze and testosterone that the situation is becoming increasingly complicated.



There's the issue of definition. Eskimo brother? Comrade-in-arms? Urbandictionary.com has no satisfying term to encapsulate the relationship between myself and this guy who put his penis into the girl that I'm dating.



There's the issue of me just wanting to go to the bathroom. ""Dawg, can we do this Cro-Magnon shit later? It's not even 2:30.""



There's the issue of contrast. As I meet his dark-brown eyes, it is clear that this is the only area where our melanin counts are the same. Yet another conflict between the half-breed mulatto and his full-breed rival. Typical. I remind myself that I am like Blade (all their strengths, none of their weaknesses) and push on, eager to extricate myself from the torture of having to live both in this situation and in my head.



""Yeah, I'm sorry.""



Still ignorant to what emasculation I have fallen prey to, I feel him pat my back. I return his ginger display of affection, complicit with this delegitimization of those evolutionary drives that initiated the conversation in the first place. It's just another bad joke: the punch line of alcohol, instinct, and my insecurities.



Maybe it's the hypnotic lull of images and sounds inherited from hours of violent movies and video games or the pollution of our subconscious preventing us from seeing people we love as more than objects.



Maybe it's the product of our animalistic programming, motivations ultimately tied to protecting our right to stay in the gene pool.



Maybe it's just misdirected expression, the symptom of facing an inextricably compromised intimacy and lacking the appropriate tools to describe it.



Regardless, it seems like these feelings are natural and ubiquitous. Though perhaps we should be careful to not let what is obvious become our limiting factor. Perhaps, with maturity, we might look to the potential of other gentlemen with ""someone in common"" as someone with whom we might have something in common.



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