In Which Other Advice Columnists Remain Remarkably Flawed

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.

Over the past six months I have been dating a girl named Katherine. She is really generous with her time when it comes to her friends and family, and sometimes they abuse what I consider to be her goodwill.

The situation recently came to a head when her friend Lance divorced his wife and needed a place to stay. Katherine felt she could not turn him away and has been spending a lot of time attempting to cheer Lance up, even throwing him a party.

I strain to emphasize that jealousy or lack of attention is not my problem. In fact, I sometimes feel relieved that Katherine has such a full life since it takes me off the hook, but I’m not sure I feel great about being okay with it. In addition, Katherine has told me that she is thrilled I am not controlling like her past boyfriends. How do I bring this up without making myself look bad?

Ben A.

Dear Ben,

As Ayn Rand put it in her classic 1964 essay collection, The Virtue of Selfishness, man is born with an innate… Just kidding, although casually leaving a copy of The Fountainhead atop your girlfriend’s toilet tank is not going to hurt this situation at all.

Human women do things with three possible motivations:

1) They saw it on TV or read it in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander;

2) Their mother did it or forbid them to do it;

3) Because.

Sure, you can have it out with Katherine and she will resent you and probably start making Lance feel better in more predictable ways. Or, you can use a tried and tested process I call contamination.

Say that Katherine had a favorite restaurant. If they suddenly displayed health code violations in their window, would she not have to think twice about eating there? You want to subtly turn her good deed into a mediocre deed. For example, you could start eating at her favorite restaurant and pretend to vomit or get the shits afterwards. Alternately, in the Lance situation, you can leave her an anonymous note detailed all of Lance’s probable misdeeds.

Just do one thing and find out if Lance has a big cock before embarking on this journey, and also check if it is a felony to forge someone’s signature on an anonymous note.


I have been reading a lot of advice columnists lately. It seems like they bring their own biases and perspectives to the questions they are asked, but since they never disclose much about themselves or where they are coming from, it’s difficult for me to gauge the value of their advice. Of what help can you be in this matter?

Jocelyn A.

Dear Jocelyn,

Taking advice from anyone who doesn’t look, sound, and smell like Chris Pratt is usually a fool’s errand, but it has been my experience in life that there is no one who can resist talking about themselves.

Carolyn Hax. The Washington Post’s syndicated advice column features illustrations from Ms. Hax’s ex-husband. In nearly every answer, Carolyn mentions that she does not have children, which has become a case of methinks the lady doth protest too much. Whether or not you have children shouldn’t really change your views on their relative importance or merit, but who I am kidding? She always makes the kids take a backseat, almost like they were the little people on the set of The Wizard of Oz.

Meredith Goldstein. The stylish and beautiful author of the Boston Globe’s tremendously influential Love Letters column, Ms. Goldstein is a single Jewish woman living in Boston. As such, she has experienced her fair share of heartbreak. Anytime a LW (letter writer, if you were born in a cave) mentions that her boyfriend has done anything the slightest bit reticent or unloving, Meredith demands that she dump the guy immediately. One time, a LW found her husband looking at porn on the computer, and Meredith was like, “It’s over.” Another time, a LW found her husband looking at gay porn on the computer, and Meredith was like, “Have you considered couples therapy?”

Dear Abby. Dear Abby is currently writen by Pauline Phillips’ daughter Jeanne, who is also ancient. Ms. Phillips has never used a smart phone and often confuses The Interview with The Conversation. All her advice is at least forty years out of date, and that’s being charitable. She’s also kind of mean if a LW doesn’t share her opinion and writes back being like, “Are you sure I had to send a thank you note?” (The answer is always send the note.)

Dear PrudenceAll the pop culture references, the memoir-esque stories. It’s like talking to a high school friend who really wants to catch you up on everything. “Did you see the latest episode of The Newsroom?” Ugh.

Ask Amy. Syndicated columnist Amy Dickinson is like that really equivocating mom who carefully considers each answer. It’s seriously aggravating, but everything she says is one hundred percent balls-on accurate.

Hard to Say. You know what this is.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

“I’m Aquarius (Edu Imbernon Remix)” – Metronomy (mp3)

“Love Letters (Agoria Remix)” – Metronomy (mp3)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s