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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Entries in advice (132)

Wednesday
May242017

In Which We Refuse To Watch Her Break Up This Happy Home

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.

Hi,

For a number of years, I have known a wonderful woman I will call Helen. Recently, she confided in me that she has been seeing a married man. He tells her that he wants to be with her, and that he will divorce his wife to do so.

Through some covert research I have learned this is rather unlikely. I find myself attracted to Helen and I think we would make a great couple, but this married guy keeps stringing her along. Other advice columnists have informed me there is nothing that I can do that won't make me look like a total asshole and end up reminding Helen of this for-shit period of her life.

You are my final hope.

Alan X.

 

Dear Alan,

These days people are more sensitive to not getting involved in the business of others. To recognize the achievements of shit disturbers of the past, we need only look to the cinema of yore. Joan Crawford starred in an amazing 1941 comedy about this very subject, which was humorously called When Ladies Meet. She played this stuck-up trash novelist who wouldn't give Jimmy the time of day. Instead, she planned to spend the rest of her life with her editor, whose first name was Rogers and who was a grade-A asshole with a wonderful wife named Clara (Greer Garson).

Joan Crawford was already getting hard to look at by this point. Nevertheless Jimmy was in love with her for some reason. Actually, I know the reason: she has this great fucking apartment that sort of looked out on Brooklyn and the view of the bridge was grand. It was implied that the rent on this place was a whole eight cents per month.

Jimmy (Robert Taylor) does not want to see his friend hurt, so he befriends Rogers' wife Clara and brings her up to this summer palace in Connecticut where Rogers and Joan Crawford would meet to "review" her "manuscript." He tells Joan that Clara is his cousin. The whole thing climaxes when the two women have a heart to heart. Clara explains that she really loves her husband, even though he's human shit. Joan informs her how deeply in love they are.

By this point Rogers has started to sour on Joan Crawford's character. He was never very fond of her novels to begin with, and through various dialogue we come to understand that the book in question is about a wonderful woman who breaks up a marriage. How topical. After the reveal, Rogers dumps Joan Crawford but his wife is disillusioned, so she dumps him. 

What does this mean for you? Several things, I'd imagine. First of all, do you really care for and respect this Helen of yours? Because she sounds like she has lax morals. I'd have a hard time trusting a person like that, and you should never date a writer anyway. They lie too much.

You are probably just attracted to Helen because of her self-destructive streak. Still, you would most likely be doing her a favor by busting up this most untenable situation. If you are going to ruin some lives, either commit to it or wait for it to happen on its own. Don't bother inching towards Hell. It's a part of the most fantastic binary ever constructed by Man or God.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

Wednesday
May172017

In Which We Use The Word Incessantly

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.

Hi,

This past year in college, I have developed an extremely clingy friend who I will call Billy. Billy is not a bad guy or anything like that; he just believes that he has found his best friend and I think otherwise. If I sound callous that is because I am a little tired of him representing to other people on my behalf.

This summer will likely be even more challenging, since Billy chose an internship in the Midwestern city I am from. I have friends from high school I plan on spending the summer with and I don't want Billy around all the time.

Can you help?

Alex T.

 

Dear Alex,

This sounds more like an unrequited love affair, which is a lot easier to dispense with, since you can start an affair with someone else. While normally I would suggest you commence immediately with an off-putting habit that will send most people running in the other direction, I suspect Billy will embrace your newfound love of cigar smoking and become the cigar king of Chicago.

Since any oversized move you make has a chance of backfiring, you should play this more subtly. Get a feeling for the things Billy would not be willing to do with you. Here are some possibilities you can hesitantly explore:

AA/NA meetings

Juice bars

Escape rooms sometimes offer internships

Crack rock

Bird/beekeeping

Whatever it is that Billy finds disgusting will be your ticket out of this unwanted closeness. You're welcome.

Also, when you lie, don't touch your face. Also, when you lie, don't touch your face.

Hey,

My boyfriend Kyle and I have a great relationship. We spend almost all our free time together and we rarely argue or fight. He's really supportive of me and never criticizes anything I do. 

There is one problem though. Kyle fancies himself an amateur gourmet. He is always planning some recipe composed of farm-to-table ingredients. Once he smiled at a lobster he was about to boil, which was a little strange, but the larger issue is that Kyle can't really cook. His meals are so adventurous that they're frequently inedible. He consumes them with aplomb and never seems to notice my lack of enthusiasm. How can I make him stop without getting in leg-deep shit? 

Angela D. 

Dear Angela,

Just come up with some strange diet plan that requires cooking things that even this Julia Childish can't screw up. 

Preface your lie by saying that you had an allergic reaction to one of his terrible meals (preferably rabbit, since humans should not consume rabbits except as a direct fuck you to Beatrix Potter). Explain that you were tested for allergies and it turns out you have some rare condition which involves never consuming the worst of his preparations in any form whatsoever. 

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

Wednesday
May102017

In Which Prioritize Our Own Particular Problems

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.

Hi,

I have a colleague in my workplace who I will call Kevin. Although I have given him zero encouragement of any kind, Kevin feels the need to confide the vast details of his inner life to me at every opportunity.

Since he does so without my permission, I will reveal what he has told me without his. He has a very tumultuous relationship with his fiancee, who seems to be some kind of monster. Or maybe she is wonderful and Kevin is the monster, which seems as likely. The two argue often, and my supervisor has even reprimanded Kevin for raising his voice on his cell phone.

Despite the fact that I never engage with him in conversation, Kevin constantly asks me for advice and coworkers see as a pair. This is counter to all of my aims and probably not great for my career. At the same time, pissing Kevin off is going to make work even more unpleasant and difficult, so I need him happy. Can you help me?

Doug R.

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Dear Doug,

If you attempt to get Kevin to help you with an even more unappealing problem, he will probably be less likely to involve you in his own. This is a very risky road to take however, since there is a possibility he will spin you even more fluidly into his sick web. You can test the waters in this direction and see if this gets him off your back, since many people are as naturally uncomfortable being involved in others' affairs as they are comfortable talking about themselves.

What Kevin may find useful about your presence is that you require nothing from him. If in fact this only draws Kevin closer, you can now take more extreme measures. It is best that you use another coworker, preferably female or male or if you are gay, and bring him or her into your confidence. You can replace Kevin; it is like when Indiana Jones switches out two idols of the same weight on a pressure sensitive podium. Sidenote: why was the treasure sitting on a pressure sensitive podium in the first place?

If you can make Kevin's problems seem insignificant in comparison to the ones your other coworker is suffering through, he may genuinely understand his don't need to be confided to you as often. It is up to you to determine how little emotional intelligence this disturbed creature has before selecting your choice.

Hi,

Recently, it has been bothering me how snobby my girlfriend is. She always has some elaborate explanation for whatever is going on, and it generally places her far, far above whatever is going on, like in the stratosphere. Even though we have a similar education, and I have technical knowledge she can only dream of, she finds a way to talk down to me about it. I have spoken with her somewhat about this, and I am not even sure she understands she is doing it.   

What should I do?

Sarah E.

Sarah,

This behavior most likely masks some basic insecurity developed in this person's life where someone told her that she was stupid. Given how arrogant she is acting, you are probably even more unlikely to praise whatever actual acumen she possesses, so maybe try going overboard in that direction. If she feels you understand and appreciate your intelligence like no one else ever has, she will be less afraid of seeming stupid or foolish. Introduce her to anime.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.