In Which This Is The Only Way We Feel We Can Respond

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 friend Mary thinks of herself as being very politically involved. She has driven to New York to ‘occupy’ Wall Street, and she is very vocal with her opinions about the police. One of my other friends frequently disparages her as a ‘white knight.’ In the past I have defended Mary from this designation, but she seems to struggle to talk about anything except what is going on in the news. To be clear, she does ask other people their opinion and I would not call her dogmatic at all, but there does seem to be an excessive focus on current events. Am I wrong to not want to hear about this all the time?

Greg S.

just plain afraid to fail

Dear Greg,

Given that even David Simon is tired of the riots at this time, you can’t simply be dismissed as putting your head in the sand.

There was actually a great Robbie Williams song about this. It was called “Jesus in a Camper Van.” It was about even the most hardened disciple of creed needing time to relax and unwind, and in this way, it was quite a prescient tune.

Then again (sorry!) there was a time in recent history, I guess all of history might qualify actually, where the idea of staying out of the fray of political events was impossible, and usually akin to allowing them to happen. One of the great forgotten things is that there was a healthy anti-war movement for World War II. Of course, those people were involved in the politics of their time, they were just on the completely wrong side of them.

So Mary encourages a bunch of rioters. I don’t think this makes her a white knight or a bad person. Possibly if you have a different opinion you can express it to her. This isn’t the era to tiptoe around anything. Subtlety died in the sixteenth century.


Do I need an exposed brick wall in my apartment to be happy? I was never one of those “those girls” but now I’m having trouble sleeping because I can’t find an available apartment with exposed brick. 

Rachel T.

hard to say mia nguyen

Dear Rachel,

Obviously you don’t need exposed brick to be happy. Instead, you need:

  1. Cheap kohl

  2. Not to be killed by your parents for being a girl

  3. A guaranteed spot in Heaven

  4. A cure for the plague

  5. A receding hairline

  6. A large butt

  7. A 14-inch waist

  8. The right to vote

  9. A husband, preferably one with a good job so that you can stay home to cook and take care of your 3 children

  10. Blond hair and blue eyes

  11. A bra to burn

  12. A house in the suburbs with a white picket fence

  13. An executive-level job

  14. The ability to juggle it all

  15. A female friend with whom you never speak of men

  16. Great light in your bathroom for selfies

  17. A weekly manicure and wax

  18. A light-hearted abortion

  19. Emotional resilience, sexual aggression, maternal instinct

  20. A great pair of jeans

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

“L.O.L.” – Margaret (mp3)

“I Get Along” – Margaret (mp3)


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