I moved last week. It sucked in the general way that moves tend to suck: the stress of packing your belongings away, of throwing away things you’re attached to but know you don’t need; the various hiccups of finding a new place and movers to get you there; cleaning the old apartment of dust and memories. Not counting my college years, it was my 16th move in 35 years, and it was largely unremarkable. It would feel familiar to anyone who’s moved from one building to a nicer, newer one.

But one aspect of this move was different from the first 15 times: for the first time in my life, I moved with someone. My wife had moved into my apartment shortly before we got engaged, but we’d never actually moved together. And here is the fundamental difference: when you move as a single man, the stress ends when the movers leave. You’re in a new place, you set up your TV, and you’re good. You will unpack the boxes when you need the items inside, a process that can take anywhere from 6 to 27 months.

When you move as half of a couple, though, the end of the move is only the beginning of creating a new home. There is a nest to build. You unpack boxes on a schedule approaching “adult.” And most importantly, you must replace the bookshelves, dressers, and other furniture that you donated, sold, or simply threw out during the move because it “didn’t look nice.” The nest needs new furnishings that look nice and match and make friends coo with appreciation. (At our old place, we once had another couple over for brunch, and my friend’s girlfriend said the dining room “looked like a West Elm catalogue.” I have rarely seen my wife happier.)

And so you go to IKEA, because you can’t afford anything in the West Elm catalogue.

IKEA: monolithic big-box purveyor of mid-shelf furniture designed to last until you can afford better things or more IKEA furniture, whichever comes first (more IKEA furniture always comes first). It is the furniture of renters, of transients, of aspiring young professionals, of the middle class, of anyone cutting corners in home décor. IKEA casts a wide net and draws the gullible into its showroom, a variety of kitchens and bedrooms and open studio apartments decorated with stylish but sterile IKEA products. The assembled products draw your gaze, and the reasonable costs make you think, “Yeah, our bathroom could look like this.”

That’s your fatal error. Because the showroom spits you out into the bowels of The Killing Floor, so named for the domestic spats it spawns. There is no sheen here, no promise of What Your Home Might Be — only stacks of rolled-up rugs, curtains layered on curtains, mirrors wrapped in cardboard stacked to the ceiling. That $400 credenza that looked so appealing in the showroom? It is six pieces of particle board and some wooden dowels packed into a cardboard box with the density of a neutron star, and your life will devolve into a maze of pictograms and Allen wrenches before it reaches its promised form.

That is, IF you can get that unwieldy box to your home. The lines at IKEA run deep and slow, and any Job who survives that trial must then transport his purchases home. This is hard enough if you’re carrying everything to your SUV, but nigh-impossible for the average carless New Yorker. And so you trudge your oversize cart spilling with rugs and rods and unbuilt credenzas to Home Delivery, where there will often be as many as one employee working on a busy Sunday. And you wait in line for two more hours, and you agree to accept delivery five days from now of the things you bought today, and you pay extra for that, and that delivery arrives incomplete and outside the window they promised to deliver it, because God is a lie and corporations are people – careless, cruel, powerful people who don’t need you and will only celebrate the loss of your business by screwing over others like you.

IKEA is fucking terrible.

So yeah, if you and your significant other can make it through IKEA, you’ll be okay. Here are your emails:

Matt,

Marriage: I just got married on April 26. Things have been fantastic so far. I know it won’t always be this way and I’m dreading that. I know I’m not enjoying the present as much because I’m already stressing the fact that there’s no way we keep this up. I really love my wife and I’m afraid there will be a point when I don’t love her as much. I’m assuming this is sort of normal, but I’d like some assurance that I’m not the only person in the world that has these thoughts.

Seems normal enough to me, if misguided. You’ve got the rest of your life to be stressed out about bullshit as it happens. Relax and enjoy things now, before children and your decaying body destroy your happy youth.

Football: I get to keep 6 players from my roster (no draft picks lost or anything like that, so I can keep whomever I like with no penalty). It’s a deep 18 team league and that’s one of the reasons I was competitive even if my team looks like crap on paper. There’s no harm in keeping someone even if they aren’t expected to perform next season, as long as they have a promising career. I figure Cam Newton, Wes Welker, and Antonio Brown are 3 obvious keepers. Need 3 more from this group: Lamar Miller, Darren McFadden, MJD, Pierre Thomas, Kendall Wright, Greg Olsen, Hakeem Nicks, Reggie Wayne, Coby Fleener, and Justin Blackmon (realize he might never play another game). Please help, my wise friend.
– Daniil

Blech. Maybe Hakeem Nicks? Pierre Thomas if it’s a PPR league? The options you’ve given me are the same ones I get when I’m searching for a flex option on Sunday morning: which of these assholes can get me 7 fantasy points today? Don’t bother thinking about it too much, it’s not gonna matter.

Hey!

I’ve been a voracious reader of KSK for like six years now, although I’ve never commented or written in, but it’s a weeknight and I’m kinda drunk (noooo USMNT…) so I figured now is as good a time as any to KONTRIBUTE KONTENT to my favorite NFL site.

Fantasy first: Due to a recently instituted keeper rule, I have the opportunity to hold on to Eddie Lacy in return for a last-round pick (13th or 14th, I think). Which I’m obviously going to do. This throws off my normal drafting strategy, however — usually, I’d pick up a top-flight RB in the first round and follow that up with the best RB/WR available in the second, waiting to draft a QB until the third or even fourth round. This process has worked out for me — sort of — to the tune of winning my league two out of six years, and only placing lower than fifth once. How should I alter the process now that I have a quality RB in my pocket to begin with? Should this be the year I roll with Rodgers or Peyton in the first round?

I hate, hate, hate this “X position in Y round” strategy. Because so much of it depends on where in a round you pick — especially in the early rounds. Like, you can say you want a top-flight RB in the first round, but what if you pick 12th? I’d rather have Aaron Rodgers there than Le’Veon Bell. But if you pick 3rd, then Jamaal Charles is an obvious choice over Peyton Manning.

I say this every year: make a ranking of the top 100 players on your draft board. It forces you to make tough decisions ahead of time: would you rather have Doug Martin or Calvin Johnson at 8? Dez Bryant or Brandon Marshall? Peyton Manning or A.J. Green? Then, once you have your rankings laid out, go through a couple of mock drafts online with Eddie Lacy already penciled into your roster. With some practice, you’ll find some balance between “best available” and “positional need.” 

Now sex: A few weeks ago, I went out on the town, met up with some friends and ended up coming home with a shockingly attractive acquaintance. (I had met her a couple times before, but didn’t really know anything about her.) After an entirely enjoyable night, I then woke up to a raging hangover and her telling me that she had a boyfriend. Whoops.

I felt like an asshole about that — still kinda do — and I was perfectly willing to cut my losses and move on, but after I semi-awkwardly avoided her the next time we ran into each other out (same circle of friends, happens fairly regularly), she got in touch with me, saying that it had been weird between us and that she didn’t want it to be.

Since then, we’ve been chatting with each other pretty regularly. Nothing lewd or even all that flirty, but we’re talking a good deal more than most people would in this situation, I think. That wouldn’t be a problem ordinarily, but it turns out she’s cool as shit and I’m sort of starting to develop a pretty worrisome crush on her.

My question(s): I already feel like the bad guy in this situation. How far do I need to keep my distance from her in order to feel like I’m doing the right thing? Should I cut off ties completely or just try to avoid hanging out with her for too long on any given evening? Keep in mind that we’re probably going to see each other out most weekends no matter what, unless we just divest ourselves of our closest friends. I’m caught between being scared something would happen if we were drunk and alone together and really wanting something to happen, but in the long run I’d prefer to keep my conscience (and hers) intact. What do you think?

Oh yeah, the girl who cheated on her boyfriend then kept her hooks in the guy she cheated with is just OOZING with conscience. 

You’re getting played. You’re on her back burner, a reserve to be called up, a safe place to land if her present relationship goes south. Don’t get me wrong: she may very well like you — perhaps even more than her boyfriend — but she’s either happy enough to stay with him or not unhappy enough to endure the drama of a break-up. In the meantime, you’re there to give her attention and make her feel cool and desired.

So be straight with her: “Hey, I’m into you, and I’d rather not cultivate something here if you’re dating someone else.” And if she gives you some bullshit about just being friends, tell her you already have enough friends. You’re only accepting applications for people to fuck right now.

And secondly — something that might be more applicable to a greater number of people — is there an inoffensive or subtle way to ask a girl if she still has a boyfriend? Just, you know, for the future. People our age seem to have foregone listing that shit on Facebook, so I’m kinda stuck in the water on how to proceed.

Thanks for your time. Holy hell, I need football season to start.
Sincerely,
John Denali

“Hey, are you still dating someone?” Go ahead, give it a try.

**********

El Cap-i-tan,
You may remember me from a few months back. I was the guy with the suicidal hooker ex-girlfriend who wouldn’t stop sending me naked pictures when I was courting another girl. Good News! She stopped sending me naked pictures when I was with other girls! Bad News: Everything else.

It began with naked pictures. Of me from 3 years ago. Which she sent to my boss, and everyone else’s email listed on our company’s website.

Let this be a lesson, fellas: don’t take — or let anyone else take — a picture of your junk.

While I wasn’t fired because of it, I did leave my job due to the general uncomfortableness of the situation. She would regularly leave me voicemails alternating between professing her love and wanting to tear my eyes out. In the end, it came down to her driving from Chicago to NJ, high as Scarface in Colombia, banging on my door and crying that I should take her back. That’s when the restraining order came in. Now, I legally no longer have to hear from her! So there’s that.

Now for everything else. She scared the nice, normal young lady that I mentioned last time away. Which in retrospect may be a good thing, because I am a mess. I can’t commit to anyone anymore, which is probably normal for 25 year old assholes like myself. But I wanted a relationship, a healthy one preferably, and the specter of hooker-ex is difficult to shake.

I know this may be hard to accept right now, but most women actually AREN’T psychotic hookers with coke addictions.

Which brings me to where I am now. I felt empty just going out, meeting, and trying to bed random girls. So I found one. She seems to be normal. Hell, she even went to Harvard (which might actually mean there IS something wrong with her but I digress.) Anyway, now that things are moving closer to a certified relationship, I find myself backing away. I don’t want another messy relationship. I don’t want to be threatened with suicide again. I understand not every girl is like that, but I just don’t know if I’m actually ready for a relationship again. I’m torn between two feelings, bolting from each other, and I’m just not sure what to do.

Soooooo… any ideas?

Sincerely,
Am I screwed? I’m screwed, aren’t I?

It’s not one or the other, you know. You aren’t consigned to loneliness or ironclad monogamy. You can explain your scenario, your past, and your feelings to Miss Hahvahd. You can tell her that you like her, but you have serious reservations about being in a relationship because your wires for trust and intimacy have been scrambled. You may find that she’s more patient and understanding than you could possibly expect. And also not a hooker. She’s almost certainly not a hooker.

As I’ve said in the mailbag before, a successful long-term commitment between two people has four boxes that need to be checked: Person A has to love Person B; Person B has to love Person A; Person A has to be ready for commitment; and Person B has to be ready for commitment. Those latter two requirements are why young people in love are so often complete fucking disasters — and I say this as someone who was once young and in love and totally screwing up with perfectly lovely and smart people.

So don’t sweat it so much. Level with her and tell her what you can offer emotionally (even if it’s nothing). Most people will appreciate being given the choice to opt out over getting dicked over. And if it doesn’t work out, don’t worry: people who went to Harvard are only barely better than coke-addicted hookers.