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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

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Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

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Life of Mary MacLane

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Entries in hard to say (149)

Wednesday
Mar292017

In Which We Felt Complete In The Air

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,

My boyfriend (of four months) Ian, and I were at a movie last week. He brought into the theater a massive box of popcorn slathered in butter and ate the entire thing himself. I could barely focus on the film given the show that was occurring in the seat right next to me. To make things even worse he offered his sticky hand to me afterwards and I was too shocked to vocalize my disapproval. I still feel like there is butter on my hand.

I know I'm nitpicking a little and other aspects of this new relationship are a lot more positive, but it is difficult to completely put this experience in the past. Am I overreacting?

Janine H.

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Dear Janine,

A lot of binge-eaters prefer to do their most important work in the dark. The fact that Ian allowed you to view him in his natural environment was from his perspective, an important step. You can bet that Ian has serious issues with his food, all beginning when he was a young Ian growing up in the Hamlet of Saw City, Missouri. Children often escape domineering parents or uncomfortable home situations through the magic of cinema, and if they are not getting the requisite calories at home, a folksy theater vendor might slip a young boy an extra bucket of popcorn that some finicky theatergoer rejected for being too buttery.

Personally, I feel that butter is an abomination, a story that begins in Fountainhead, Montana....

There will always be things about other people we don't like or fully understand. Getting closer to our knowledge of others and accepting them constitutes some level of personal growth.

If you're not at that point yet, don't blame yourself.

Hey,

As a heterosexual woman, I was wondering what the best way to give a guy your number and basically let you know that you are interested in is? In college I was used to meeting people naturally and developing a friendship. In my new city a lot of people are already in relationships and thus it's awkward. I just wondered if there is a simple way to convey availability without coming on too strong?

Kelsey U.

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Dear Kelsey,

If you are talking about people you slightly know as acquaintances, the best thing to do is state plainly that you just broke up with your boyfriend. They will ask the reason, which is a decent conversation starter although you will quickly want to move onto other things, and so will they. The made-up reason that you should give for the breakup is usually, you moved here and did not want to do long-distance. If you have some other dealbreaker you can also mention that up front, e.g. "He wouldn't abandon his cat Meeples!" or "He wanted me to get a hysterectomy!"

If you are talking about randoms, it is usually best to get to know them in a general sense, after which you can use the dumped gag. Telling other people your own relationship status generally gets them to reveal theirs without a minimum of fuss. If they suggest they are single, then you can offer a friendly drink. When they arrive, they will quickly realize they are at the beginning of the most important sexual and emotional journey of their lives.

 

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

Wednesday
Mar222017

In Which There Are A Variety Of Simple Ways To Fly

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,

At the company I work for, new employees are brought into the flow in groups. My group had a lot of people around the same age and we all bonded and became friends quickly. (My company allows relationships in the workforce as long as they two people aren't in the same section.) In those early months I became close to Becca and we started to go out. After around a year, we decided to break up.

Recently Becca has started dating another employee who I work closely with. I have tried not to let this bother me but I think my true feelings are starting to show. In the end, it seems difficult to see her every day and I feel that I have not really gotten over the relationship even though I pretend otherwise. Do you have solutions to this issue?

Craig A.

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Dear Craig,

The idea of someone we were with being with someone else is always a traumatic situation. When Becca's new relationship turns into a steaming pile of garbage, you will perhaps be somewhat reassured, but the pain will never fully go away. That fact that Becca is moving on in front of you is what John Ashbery termed a blessing in disguise.

Moving on is difficult, but until you have accomplished that long term goal, there are some things you can do to alleviate this present pain. Conventional wisdom would have it that the less you know about the situation the better, but considering your circumstances, that is never going to be possible. Take things in the entirely opposite direction: be incredibly supportive of your co-worker's relationship and try to establish a friendship with Becca, if possible. This will take the edge off until the pain eventually just fades away.

Hey,

Lately I find that I am really quick to anger. When passengers were very slow to disembark a recent plane I was on, I felt myself wanting to lash out at them. This is balanced against a deep desire not to enter into open conflict with others, especially strangers I do not know.

I'm starting to think that there must be something wrong with me, to be made so angry but such routine and common frustrations.

Jackie R.

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Dear Jackie,

Such anger feels like the fancy of a negative moment, but it is in reality a product of prolonged frustration, bubbling to the surface. If you travel a lot, you can see how people let off their frustrations in various ways. Recently, I watched a man who missed his flight throw a temper tantrum by stomping and crying in front of the flight agent. A security guard covertly approached from the rear, sensing that a further breakdown was perhaps in the making. Eventually the guy settled down - his feelings were completely out of his system, and he had moved on to the next way he made other people's lives as unhappy as his own.

I am not saying you should throw a tantrum, but it is important to let people know if they have annoyed you in a specific way. You might as well start becoming the kind of person who frequently tells other people how the world should be, and it is better that you make this change in the company of people who you will never see again in your life rather than your close friends and relatives.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

Wednesday
Mar152017

In Which We Appear Every Wednesday In Our Hearts

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,

In three months, I will be getting married to a woman I truly believe is the love of my life. As we have planned the wedding, I have been gripped by the desire to tell my fiancee about a weekend I cheated on her when she was on vacation with her family.

This mistake happened about eight months in our relationship. An ex-girlfriend named Delia was in town and we slept together one night. Delia and I have talked since, but only as friends.

I hate the idea that I would be going into the rest of my life without being completely honest with the woman who will be my wife. What should I do?

Omar B.

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Dear Omar,

I honestly can't think of a worse idea, but as with all situations, I try and see the other side of things. There is the possibility you will be forgiven for your behavior, but what is the point of ruining this poor woman's big day?

Perhaps on some level you wish to sabotage your wedding and your life. Many people believe that they do not really deserve happiness, and work to those ends in order to prevent themselves from achieving their desires. Having suffered sufficiently, you will no doubt have to attempt to gain some other woman's trust by behaving better.

Why not just have this with the woman who already wants to be your wife? One mistake is no big deal. We have all done something we regret. Making a habit out of it is the true sin, and maybe you wanted to stray once to see that it really isn't as much fun as it looks.

Hey,

I am in a bit of a precarious situation and I'm looking for a way out. I know that I should not have done a lot of this, but I am trying to make the best of what I do have.

I developed an online relationship with a guy who I will call Terence. I think at first I just liked the attention, and then our connection grew. At the same time, I was dating, but not very seriously, a guy named Gary who lives in my small city. We were not exclusive but I never told him about Terence still neither relationship was exclusive in my eyes.

Well, Terence is moving here and I want to pursue this relationship. We have met once in real life and I think there is a strong possibility he's the one. I wasn't sure this would ever happen, so I did not think of how Gary would take this.

I need to get Gary out of the picture, but I know if he finds out the real story he will be very angry and try to sabotage what I have with Terence. Also, I would prefer if Terence did not know about my relationship with Gary, but I can accept I may have to tell one of them more of the truth to make this work. What is my best course of action?

Sandra R.

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Dear Sandra,

I believe a similar situation occurred in a little book I like to call The Bible. As I recall, everyone died at the end of this sordid tale. We would not want this to happen to you, since you are the rare kind of person who can make two men happy without basically even trying.

Fortunately, there seems to be a variety of simple ways out here. You should tell Terence a heavily edited version of the truth, since he will most certainly find out something. Leave out the parts with penetration. After all, you did nothing really wrong here.

In order to confuse Gary as much as possible before he suddenly starts seeing you around with another men, find something you can identify in his behavior that you can use to make him ashamed of contacting you again. If he thinks you are the villain, he is probably going to want to broadcast it. You want to make him at least equally culpable in what is sure to be a difficult breakup. Wait for him to say something slightly inflammatory and then blow it up out of proportion. If he tries to apologize, advise him that your therapist told you it is best you not talk for awhile.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.