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In which John leads Swindon Town against Sheffield Wednesday, while telling the story of his third grade girlfriend, Axl Rose.

 Introduction (0:00)

Hello and welcome to HankGames without Hank. Today, we are, of course, the Swindon Town Swoodilypoopers, there are two games remaining in the League One season, and we are playing Sheffield Wednesday, who are atop the league. In fact, they have already won the league, I regret to inform you. Even if we win this game, the best we can do is second - but coming in second is extremely important, because it will allow us to go the Championship next season on our INEXORABLE MARCH to the Premier League. Today I am going to tell you one last ex-girlfriend story. This one, about Axl Rose, who I dated in third grade. I'm also going to talk a little bit about getting dumped, and how to deal with it.

Hayden Pennyfeather is our referee? Is that some kind of joke?

Anyway, the one thing I want to tell you about our squad today is we have Other John Green up front, but today he is paired not with Bald John Green, who unfortunately is tired, but with LEEEEEERRROOOOOYYYYY Williamson.

 First Half (0:52)

That's right. It's Leroy Williamson up front for the first time for the Swindon Town Swoodilypoopers. Uhm, he doesn't have any songs about him, so feel free to write some. Look at that nice pass from Leroy. For those of you who don't know that joke, it's a World of Warcraft joke. Oh he scores right off! (1:14 - Williamson, 3') LEROY WILLIAMSON! Three minutes into the game! What a beautiful goal from Other John Green I love it!. Oh my goodness. What a beaut...look at this stuff. Just fantastic. That shows you who's the real leader of the league, Sheffield Wednesday. You might win the league, but we're gonna win it IN OUR HEARTS.

So when I was, uh, when I was a young man, I always liked girls. I always wanted to have girlfriends even though, like, I couldn't have had any sort of sexualized interest in girls when I was, you know, eight, or whatever. But, you know, I lived in a culture that worshipped romantic love - as all of you do - and so I thought it would be a good idea to have a girlfriend. I never thought girls were gross, any of that stuff. I always wanted to have a girlfriend. And in third grade, the prettiest girl in all of third grade was Axl Rose. She had long blonde hair, just like Axl Rose, actually, and she was really pretty and all, and she was just really nice and I just liked her a lot. And I really, really, really wanted her to be my girlfriend. And I took this stuff very seriously, I was nine, but my emotional experiences, you know, it seemed real. It was real. And that's really important in this story.

So anyway, I'm nine years old, and my gym teacher - not my best friend, needless to say, if you know anything about me, or even if you've ever looked at me. My gym teacher finds out that I have a crush on Axl Rose, because I'm telling my friends...I'm basically - I don't have any friends, as such, but I was telling people I really liked Axl Rose, and I was...did they think that Axl Rose liked me, and would she want to go with me - which was, like, the big phrase at the time. "Go with," not... (oh, come on, that's gotta be a foul) - you didn't say, like, 'go out with' or 'hook up with' in third grade, you said "go with." So I was, like, do you think that Axl Rose would want to go with me, and everyone was like, probably not, you're a massive dork. And...but my gym teacher eventually found out, and my gym teacher said "if you don't tell Axl Rose that you have a crush on her tomorrow, I am going to tell her for you."

This horrified me. I literally, it's probably the first time in my life I stayed up all night feeling anxiety. All night, I stayed up, trying to think of a way that I was going to tell Axl Rose that I had a crush on her and I wanted to go with her, and I wanted her to be...

(phone rings). Oh, that's just poor quality. Hold on. I'll call that person back. Area code 416. Alright. Sorry about that. That's just, that', that's an embarrassment. Who doesn't turn their phone off for an exciting episode of HankGames?

So, uhm, I literally stayed up all night worrying about Axl Rose and whether she was gonna want to... (we got Leroy Williamson open, we just need the right ball! And, so I woke up the next morning, after like an hour and a half of sleep, and the first thing that I did was put on my matching - my best outfit, which was a pair of matching OP shorts and shirt. And when I say matching, I mean, like, they had this weird neon pattern that continued from the shirt to the shorts. And it was a short-sleeved, button-down shirt and then, like, very short shorts, in the style of the day. And, I was basically thinking, no girl could turn down me in this hot hot outfit.

And then, we were in different third grade classes, like, she had a different teacher than I did. So I had to concoct a way to get into her classroom, which I did by telling my reading teacher that only Axl Rose's class had the book that I wanted to read. I can't remember what the book was, I think it was by Gary Paulsen. Some kind of adventure book, as I recall. So I got to go to Axl Rose's classroom, but that was... (oh, LEROY WILLIAMSON OFF THE POST!) but that was only half my struggle, right? Then I had to find a way to get Axl Rose in a position where I could confess to her this huge crush that I had and perhaps ask her to go with me. And so what I did was I went into her classroom and I said my teacher, Mrs. Fink, needs to see Axl Rose. And I didn't say why. (Oh! So close!) And this was, like, I mean, I'm a congenital liar, but, like...those kinds of lies are so rare in third grade that the kind teacher didn't even think...didn't even occur to the teacher that, like, it would be a lie and I would be secretly, I would have some secret romantic idea.

So, I remember I'm holding this Gary Paulsen book and I'm walking with Axl Rose, who thinks that she has to go to Mrs. Fink's class for reasons that are mysterious to her. I'm walking with her across the park at Audubon Park Elementary School and, I mean, I'm just feeling basically raw, unadulterated panic - not unlike what I'm feeling right now, with Sheffield Wednesday in the penalty box. And I finally say to her, I say...if the gym teacher said...he would tell you if I didn't tell you, so I'm just going to tell you...I have a crush on you, and will you go with me.

 Half Time (6:34)

I will tell you her answer in the second half! We're up one-nil, thanks to a beautiful goal from LERRROOOYYYY WILLIAMSON! Alright.

 Second Half (6:48)

So. Uhm....she said yes. She said yes even though I was a huge, huge nerd. And I think maybe she said yes just because, you know, she wanted a boyfriend in the sense that one enjoys playing house and I was the only boy who was available. (Eh, that was a bit of a foul. Sure. You know)

And so she said yes, and for about two weeks, she was my girlfriend. I mean, you know, our relationship wasn't terribly complicated. It consisted mostly of, like, I remember kicking her as we would stand in line to get ready for recess. I remember, like I would kick her in the back of the calf, so that was about as serious as it got, romantically. It wasn't...certainly, I wouldn't say that we were in love, by any stretch of the imagination. But, you know, I definitely liked her.

And then, one day, out of nowhere, for like no discernible reason...I mean...there was no, like, commitment to going out with me. She didn't have to do anything (great save, Fat Lucas! Yes! Love you, Fat Lucas!) There was no commitment in, like, being my girlfriend in third grade. Like, I think I talked to her on the phone twice. I think we talked about multiplication tables a couple times, but...wasn't anything that was an inconvenience to her.  But all of a sudden she dumps me, because she wants to be single. Like, what a ridiculous idea! You're eight years old! You are single! I wanna be single...

Anyway, she wanted to be single so she dumped me. And we hadn't been going out all that long, but I was absolutely devastated. Like, I remember...I wrote about it in my diary, the same diary where I said "Today was a good day, my brother got sick." You know, I wrote about it, and I was genuinely heartbroken. And the truth is, I was genuinely heartbroken because the experience of it was real. And so, like, that's part of what annoys me so much about when people...(ohh! Needed to be a little bit longer, Leroy Williamson needed a better pass there...)

Part of what annoys me when people...uh...minimize relationship troubles, and minimize how much it hurts to get dumped, or how much the end of a relationship - no matter who ends it - how painful that is and how difficult that is, it bothers me because it's real when you're eight! Let alone when you're in high school or college, and you've been dating someone for a long time, and you really cared about each other, and you had this future mapped out that isn't going to come to pass - that's devastating. (Almost as devastating as not scoring there!)

And people minimize that because they want you to feel better, not because they actually think that it doesn't matter, but because they don't want you to be in pain, and they think the way to keep you from being in pain is to say, oh, 'you'll look back on this and laugh,' or 'someday you'll be grateful.' Well, yeah, someday you'll be grateful, maybe, but not today. Like, fat lot of good that does you. I mean, I always want to say that when...people never say that about divorce. Like, 'oh, it's not that big of a deal, you'll get over it.' You probably will get over it, but, like, not now, not today. And I think that ends up being really unhelpful, when people are...people are just trying to help. You know, they're trying to make you feel better.

And, also, frankly, it's annoying when people tell their breakup stories over and over and over again, and they're like, oh, God, I love them so much, and like now it's over, and...I know it's new to you, but it's not new to the species, and, like, you need to talk about something else. Everyone's thinking that a little bit. I know that because I've always been that guy who's always telling the breakup stories and everyone's always like 'uh-huh, yeah, I've heard a breakup story before, and they are all the same.'

And they are. That experience is legitimate. When a relationship ends, you need to talk about it over and over again. And one of the weird things is that the person that you would usually talk to about such things is now someone who you should really not talk to. (I just gave up a very dangerous free kick.) Like you really, at least in my opinion, you're definitely best off... (oh, great job there, Sheffield Wednesday, you embarrass yourself. You're an embarrassment to Wednesdays.) The great thing about it is...I mean, the sad thing about it my opinion, anyway, you can't talk to that person, that person who was always the person you talk to. Because the only way that you're ever going to get over it, the only way that you're ever going to move on and have healthy romantic and non-romantic relationships with other people is to stop treating that person as your one and only outlet for any kind of conversation.

Another thing, just because of our worship of romantic relationships...

(11:47 - Other John Green, 88') OTHER JOHN GREEN! WHAT A GOAL! And he's tackled by Leroy Williamson! What a goal. That's just...let's just appreciate this. Smack. Top corner. Love it. Nothing Sheffield Wednesday can do. It's the 88th minute, they've been shut down. Shut down by Swindon Town. That was a little bit of a foul. Don't give me a red card. Okay, yes, I won't do it again, I promise.

So the last piece of advice that I would give you, aside from trying not to talk to your exes and appreciating the fact that it hurts because it mattered, and it hurts because it was real, is that you're gonna...I know this isn't very helpful, but you're gonna be okay. The great's a terrible thing, in a lot of ways, that everything ends. Like, everything, like all of human experience ends, but in another way, it's really liberating, because you can always, you're gonna be okay. And you can sort of know that, because the whole species has this great and terrible history of finding a way to be okay in spite of extraordinary circumstances, some of which are much worse in all likelihood than the situation in which you find yourself if you are sad or experiencing loss or whatever.

 Full Time (12:55)

So! The team wins! Without Bald John Green. A heroic performance from John Green and Leroy Williamson. I'm so proud of the guys, we're gonna finish second in League One, but that means we will be promoted, we will be in the Championship next season. We've got one game left in League One, and then the FA Cup Final against Manchester United. I cannot wait. I will see you then.

Well, actually, I won't see you, but you will hear me then. Best wishes.

 Final Results

SWI: 2 (Williamson, 3'; OJG, 88')