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« In Which We Assume This Will Be Hell To Clarify »

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.


Lately I have been getting into a lot of fights with my mom about my boyfriend Tim. Even though Tim and I live together in an apartment about twenty minutes away from my Mom's house, she frequently asks him to come over to help her out with tasks around the house. The chores are menial but I resent that she feels she can occupy his time. He feels he can't say no to her but is far from eager to pitch in.

There is another complication to my problem. My dad left when I was four after cheating regularly on my mom. My mom likes and appreciates Tim, but she also continues to encourage me to monitor his comings and goings so that the same thing doesn't happen to me. It makes me paranoid and sometimes I find myself wondering. I've explained this to Tim and he says he doesn't find it out of the ordinary, but I'm worried these two things will drive him far away - possibly to Alaska or the former Soviet Union. How do I handle this ticklish sitch?

Lake T.


Dear Lake,

At first it may seem like these are really two separate problems, each requiring their own unique solution. In reality, one complements the other quite well. If your mother actually believes Tim is cheating on you, she will stop asking him to help out around the house.

Maybe you're not comfortable lying to your mom about Tim's "fucking around." After all, she raised you, presumably by herself. Why not be vague and say that you and Tim have been having some problems. When she asks what kind of problems, you must select the only problem that couples have that no one would ever want to get involved with, even your mom: religion. Inform your mom that Tim really doesn't mind helping her, but because of these problems it's hurtful to you to have him spending time there when you need your space. Cry during this, and if the moment strikes you, weep. I once saw a friend sob like a baby while simultaneously sucking fluid from a juicebox full of Juicy Juice. I assure you I never was able to forget it.


My friend Judy is a lovely little thing. Her one problem is that she tends to get a little fresh with the guys right away. She rags on them about voting for Obama and loving Christian Dior. Guys that meet her say she seems to operate on her own orbit. As a result, it feels like they don't get to know the real Judy. How can I tell her to tone it down a smidge when you are first getting to know someone?

Virginia M.

Dear Virginia,

Men love charismatic women, so I can only assume Judy's behavior borders on extremely inappropriate. I had a Pekinese who was like that and suffice it to say she later became the star of All Dogs Go To Heaven.

To correct a dog's behavior, it is only necessary to offer some trifling reward. You must do the same with Judy. You say she has trouble making a first impression. Find a man who can last a bit beyond that. When he is unable to tolerate her, you will know to get a new friend. If he tolerates her, then your problem is likely solved.

It's also possible that Judy doesn't need your help. Operating in your own orbit is hardly the worst thing you can do. Think of Luna Lovegood

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

"I Don't Want To Be Your Mother" - Rachael Yamagata (mp3)

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