By Clare Newman

By all accounts, Greg Bottle-Lee and Stella Stevensons were the quintessential Grinnell couple. They met in tutorial, went on their first date to Dari Barn, met each others parents at parents weekend, dressed in a couples costume on halloween (Roy and Keeley from Ted Lasso, so cute), lost their virginities to each other in Stevensons’s Twin XL, and split their time between their respective dorm rooms: Bottle-Lee’s in Dibble and Stevensons’s in Haines. Their large group of mutual friends called them couple goals and named their big groupchat “Grella Vs. Steg,” a reference to differing opinions within the group on what the couple’s ship name should be. But that group chat was renamed last week, when Bottle-Lee and Stevensons broke up. “He has a goatee, it’s horrible!” Stevensons could barely get the words out through her sobs. “It was like going to the dentist, that’s what kissing her was like!” said Bottle-Lee, with a quiet voice and a vacant look in his eyes. When Grinnell College’s mask policy changed to mask-optional for the foreseeable future, Bottle-Lee and Stevensons thought this would be the perfect time to take the next step in their relationship: unmasking. Stevensons said she was originally super excited to “finally get to frenching that hot piece of ass,” but after only a minute of first-time tonsil hockey, Stevensons pulled away and gave Bottle-Lee an ultimatum: “shave that thing off right now or we’re breaking up.” 

Bottle-Lee loves his goatee; it gives him confidence, and it’s the perfect size and shape to fit completely under his KN-95. But he was ready to let his face fur flow free in the wind, and had been anticipating his partner’s support. “I adore Mattathias,” Bottle-Lee says, using the name he has given to his secret scruff. “We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs together, and I can’t just get rid of him. I love Stella, but Mattathias is my life-partner, and if she can’t accept that, she can’t be in my life.” He was stroking Mattathias throughout our conversation, with the tenderness and love with which one pets an elderly cat or a brand-new puppy. Bottle-Lee recalls the conversation that led to the couple’s cleaving as “truly terrible. I don’t think we’ll ever forget what it’s like to have someone we love shrink away from us in disgust.”

 Stevensons recalls that she should have known “something was up” when Bottle-Lee started referring to himself as “we” and “us” in conversation. “I thought he was talking about us, you know, as a couple. I never would have guessed he had anthropomorphized his scraggly little peach fuzz.” Stevensons started weeping as she finished speaking, inconsolable about her bygone boyfriend’s bristly bosom buddy. 

Bottle-Lee also had complaints about his former partner’s newly visible visage. “Her lips are really tiny, like almost impossibly thin” Bottle-Lee lamented, “and her mouth is so small, it was like sticking my tongue down a boba straw. We couldn’t even make out for real, she was just mouthing at the middle of my bottom lip, sucking on it like a fish! Like really sucking on it! I got a bruise on my lip! Right above Mattathias… it was upsetting for both of us.”  Bottle-Lee says that’s not the only thing he disliked about their short smooching session: “her tongue is so long and thin and cold, really cold, like ice cold. I thought when her, you-know-what [Bottle-Lee is referring to Stevensons genitalia here] was really cold, that was normal. But I know tongues and mouths are supposed to be warm and soft, I have a tongue and a mouth, I know what they’re like.” 

Bottle-Lee and Stevensons both said they wish their ex the best in their future endeavors, saying neither of them regret the relationship, with Stevensons saying she hopes they can remain friends, or more, if there’s another mask mandate.