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Alex Carnevale

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Mia Nguyen

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Ethan Peterson

This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

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 hard to say (154)


In Which We Broke Several Mirrors In The Process

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.


In recent weeks, my girlfriend Maria and I have begun talking about getting engaged, a conversation that she initiated. In the course of our discussions about whether it is the right step for us, she mentioned that she has no interest in taking my name or having our potential children take my name. I was a bit surprised but I said nothing.

After thinking about it more, I can't help but feel a bit bothered by this. She has no professional reason not to do it, but my main concern is that kids would find it confusing to be called by different or hyphenated names. Should I bring up this concern to Maria and how should I do it?

Roberto T.


Dear Roberto,

Modernity has equipped us with a phenomenon called concern trolling. It's actual a quite ancient method. It allows people to offer a series of hypothetical statements intended to shit all over a topic without actually saying what is meant. In your situation, a concern troll might suggest, "Is it really the best for a child to be concerned about her name?"

Nothing actually has a name. These are simply made up designations. You are no more a Roberto than you are Matzoh Ramshackle. You're just a thing that exists, a thing that spends hours and hours concern trolling yourself, asking, "What should I call things, and what should I call myself?" in a high voice that sounds like Minnie Mouse.

If you really loved Maria, you'd take her name. However, she has not asked you to do this. If you offer, she might take yours, but probably not, because Maria Ramshackle sounds like the name of a prostitute. If you ever have a child, let your wife name it. It came out of her body after all. You can give your most raucous bowel movements your last name.


My girlfriend Andrea takes so many showers. Like so many. Whenever we leave our apartment for any extended period of time — when we come back, the first thing she does is shower. Maybe I would understand this if we lived in a particularly dirty city or if she had the same level of obsessiveness about her clothes, which actually touch chairs, couches and seats where other people's bodies have been.

I know for a fact that she is not OCD about anything else in her life, so this passion for showers is inexplicable to me. When I ask her about it, she just acts like it's no big deal and she enjoys the private time or whatever. But I mean this is like ninety minutes every single day just holding yourself under running water.

Jessica C.


Dear Jessica,

Given that your girlfriend does not seem terribly worried about making herself clean, it is probably something that she is hiding in the shower. It is at least conceivable that she is using drugs in the shower, or maybe just devouring a giant sized cupcake. I once ate a chicken sandwich in a bathroom; it is not a time in my life I am particularly proud of. She probably could hide both of these habits in easier ways, and there is a simpler explanation: masturbation.

A lot of people feel they can't masturbate in front of their partner. They don't want their significant other to feel like because they enjoy pleasuring themselves that it makes the other person inadequate. Many people masturbate within the context of relationships, either because they have a higher sex drive than their partner or more likely because it is an ingrained habit of dealing with stress or anxiety.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.


In Which We Intrude On Your Private Space

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.


I think it is wonderful that my wife Sam has a really close friend. The two of them have been best buds for just over six years, which is longer than I have known my wife. However, the intensity of their relationship at times seems like overkill. I find I cannot tell my wife anything without her friend, who I will call Nikki, also finding out.

This would maybe not be quite as irritating if Nikki did not bring up these intimate details in front of me. Thankfully discretion compels her silence in mixed company, but I do not need my balls broken or advice, unsolicited, from this third party to my marriage. I don't really have a problem with my wife's behavior, but Nikki is single and her taste in men is far from quality. I don't know think I could reasonably take her advice about anything more serious than what gasoline to put in my car.


Not to compare, but none of the other married people I know have had this similar problem of their relationship being challenged by another intimate relationship. If I raise any of my concerns about Nikki to Sam, she blows me off saying her friend is harmless and that she doesn't believe in secrets. I don't think this is harming our marriage, but it is becoming a serious annoyance I am ready to be done with. Can you help me please?

Theo A.

Dear Terry,

It is always not very hard to break up one of your wife's friendships, but this comes with a million extra caveats when two people are as close as Sam and "Nikki." She'll obviously miss someone she can confide in, and we do not want her to resent the role you play in the events that dishonorably discharge Nikki from the service she performs for your wife.

At times our close ones become more friendly with villains that they ought to be. It does not really say much for your wife that she is fine with this, although even the most wonderful people have flaws. The first thing you must understand is that your disgust/hesitance towards Nikki is actually making her more sympathetic in your wife's eyes.

What you need to do is organically get Sam to view Nikki in the light with which she appears to you. There was this great scene in Stepmom where Susan Sarandon subtly makes her son run away from the stepmother (Julia Roberts) and she never even gets called out on it. You can put Nikki in very difficult situations without ever being called out for it.

For example, you might say, why would I want to go on a weird vacation with Sam and Nikki and another guy? You wouldn't, but couples vacations are a great place to have experiences that you will never want to discuss with anyone again, even your therapist, Dr. Harding.


Is it a bad sign that I fantasize about other women in order to bring myself to orgasm during sex? I usually enjoy sex with my girlfriend, but sometimes I guess it gets repetitive since we know each other so well. I have no problem getting hard, but at times it will be difficult for me to achieve orgasm since it feels like we are going through the motions.

I'm worried this means we aren't especially compatible.


Jean S.

Dear Jean,

No, this is not a great sign, although certain funks can be imploded through sheer force of effort/stellar communication with your partner. Some people's bodies can become so addictive and tantalizing that any kind of touching never really gets old. You obviously have nothing like that with your girlfriend, and you will never have it. Maybe you have never felt that attracted to a human being, though, in which case your current situation could be the best you can reasonably hope for. Do not tell your girlfriend that you have ever fantasized about anyone. Ask her what turns her on – if she cannot think of anything specific, try roughhousing and afterwards lecturing her at length regarding what turns you on. Don't say "other women", although at this point we would all have to admit it is the plain truth.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.


In Which We Told An Exciting Half-Lie

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.


I made some mistakes in my friendship with a co-worker who I will call Jane. Although I am in committed relationship and I told her that, we both have not really brought it up too much since then. It is nice to have someone to talk to at work and if I am beginning honest, things in my relationship have been a bit stale — my girlfriend works long hours as well.

I have been sort of toeing the line with Jane and although I really do like her, I don't want to break up with my girlfriend. Is there anyway to reestablish boundaries? (Nothing physical has happening, although we have come close.)

Theo A.

Dear Theo,

Jane does not sound much like an innocent party either. She knew you were in a relationship and that was probably part of the reason the two of you became so close. There are so many different ways two people can derive sustenance with each other. The kind you have chosen is essentially unhealthy, since it lacks real intimacy with either party, but maybe that is just the sort of arrangement you prefer.

The real problem is in your primary relationship. Maybe you don't want to be with someone who works such long hours. Normally I would advocate a fresh lie, but telling everyone involved the truth is most likely going to lead to your best result. Half relationships can sometimes become full relationships, and it is possible either of these situations might be repaired to your satisfaction.


It is always disgusting or skeezy to ask someone who you met while they are working? I have built up rapport with an administrator who is employed at a hotel I often visit for work. I don't want to make her uncomfortable by hitting on her, but there must be some way of letting her know I am really interested.


Daniel S.

Dear Daniel,

She has to deal with this a lot in her job. Building "rapport" as you call it is really just an aspect of service jobs. You're a client and thus you receive this treatment because you have paid to receive it. It is really no indication of romantic interest on her part. 

It is OK to drop hints, but never intrude on her private space or well-being. If she really picks up on what you are broadcasting, maybe it is then OK to straightforwardly ask if something more is going on. Without that green-light, you are just being a dick.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

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