In Which We Find This Excruciating To Enunciate

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 or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.


My girlfriend Judy recently lost her job and is going through something of what my mom calls “a life change.” She always thought that she would be a musician, and she is very talented, but she has lost interest on what to this point had been a lifelong passion.

In her search to find whatever other passion might be out there, she has involved me and her family, who live close by, in a variety of outings. First, she became obsessed with birding, even purchasing a cockatoo. When she gave up on that, she sold the cockatoo, admittedly for a profit. Other potential passions fell by the wayside, including God, painting and botany.

Most recently came real estate — she studied for her exam with great fervor, at which point the exam arrived and she decided it was the wrong move and enrolled at a local community college. Her family is a lot less tolerant of her to-and-fro than I am.

I would like her to find something she enjoys in life, and I understand there is a process. What really concerns me is that I never knew her to be so fickle. Do you think a person who has trouble deciding about some things will also have trouble being happy in a relaysh?

Doug W.


Dear Doug,

“Fickle” is the right word for this sort of behavior if the person is, well, fifty-five and banging his secretary in his brand new sports car. “Self-discovering” is more accurate when it applies to someone like your gf. You don’t mention how old she is, but it’s pretty clear from your description that she falls somewhere between nineteen and thirty-five.

When people are in that phase of life, yes, their interests mutate a lot. They’re experimenting. If Judy decides she’s through, it probably has more do with her desire to be free and to experience a lot of things than a personal vendetta.

If you’re of an age with Judy, you might find that you feel the same way after a while. Respect her free spirit, though, and the two of you may experiment for a long time, together. 


I have a male coworker who constantly stares at me. At first I thought he was just attracted to me or whatever, but now it’s making me uncomfortable. He doesn’t smile, doesn’t speak to me, just stares. I’ll catch him in meetings, across the room, at lunch. I don’t want to be rude, but he’s creeping me out. What should I do? 

Lauren B. 

Dear Lauren,

He could just be lacking in social graces, in which case, gifting an etiquette primer is de rigueur. Or he could be attracted to you, or he could be a serial killer. Whichever one it is, being rude to him should be the least of your worries. 

You could try giving him the stink-eye whenever you catch him — this is an excellent strategy that also works on creeps you encounter in public transportation. Simply make a disgusted face at him and watch him burst into flames. 

If the behavior continues, I’d bring it up with human resources. Maybe you’re not the only target of his creeper peepers, but even if you are, this could be considered harassment, and you’re well within your rights to have someone ask him to stop. 

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.


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