In Which We Inculcate A Slow Burn To The Future

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 Susan recently suffered the loss of a member of her extended family with whom she had a close relationship. In the wake of this undoubtedly awful event, she has begun acting increasingly childish. For example, she inserts the word ‘meow’ into every other word. I recently received a promotion at work, for example, and when I informed her of the news, she told me, “That’s meowrific!” That doesn’t even make sense for meow to be there. The word doesn’t start with an M or sound anything like ‘meow.’

Anytime she sees a baby, a child, or living creature of any kind, she reverts into a cooing state where all she does is obsess about the object’s intrinsic beauty/innocence. I can take this every now and then, especially when the subject of her admiration is a Yorkshire terrier, but this weird behavior is getting all too constant. How can I tell her to stop without seeming like an ass?

Evan P.

Dear Evan,

In the absence of something to focus on, a person will direct their attention to anything that makes itself known to them, like Scott Eastwood or Demi Lovato. We want to see something, anything beautiful in moments like these. I’m not going to breakdown the psychological implications of your girlfriend’s, um, breakdown. It’s too soon and my hair is wet.

What you need to do is give her something to actually focus on. A fish sometimes works, especially if it doesn’t live for an extended period of time. Don’t get her an actual animal that she will have to provide and care for, please. Never give pets as gifts unless you can’t think of anything better.

It sounds like Susan just needs to find the right project. Giving back to others via community service is a bit dangerous because a lot of attractive men are in that field looking for women who love cute things. (Habitat for Humanity is basically an extended orgy with 2x4s.) I don’t know that you have much choice at this point. The word meow only belongs in the mouth of a cat.


I go out with a group of friends who always order wine at every meal. At first I didn’t mind not being the only one drinking, but our dinnertime conversations are becoming progressively sloppier and it makes the evening something of an ordeal. Is there any way to improve these circumstances without coming off as a killjoy?

Maureen A.

Dear Maureen,

Wine, or sad juice as it is called through the greater Pennsylvania area, was created for Europeans who have less problems and anxieties than Americans. Wine is highly addictive: some experts believe it is even more compulsive than cocaine.

Your friends are therefore ensconced in the saucy, grapey grip that won’t let go. The only way to free them from their urges is to take things even more thoroughly in the messed up direction, until the entire group can barely wake up the next morning. Next time y’all meet up at dinner, you can meekly ask for a dry evening. It will be that day that each of your liquored-up friends will understand one of life’s most important lessons: sobriety can, at times, be as exciting as chardonnay.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. Access This Recording’s mobile site at


“Traveling at the Speed of Light” – Joywave (mp3)

“Bad Dreams” – Joywave (mp3)


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