In Which We Find Someone To Play The Bass

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.


Aaron has been dating my friend Katy for just short of two years. She loves him dearly and sees a future for them together. They are both in their late twenties. Recently, Aaron told me in confidence that his Italian-born parents want him to take a long trip to Italy and “find a wife there.” I guess this is something of a tradition. He has had some great experiences with his family in Italy and he confessed that it is something he has considered. 

I recently observed someone ask Aaron whether he had a girlfriend, and he said yes, “She is really nice.” This struck me as true but also a bit underwhelming. Do I tell Katy any of this, and how do I advise Aaron?

Priya C.

Dear Priya,

That’s how someone would describe material possessions, like a soft pashmina or an adopted pug, not a significant other. There’s definitely a lack of passion in his cadence and demeanor. According to his missteps, the red flags line up perfectly. One, he doesn’t love Katy enough and is already resorting to flying out to Italy. Two, a part of him still wants to please his parents to fill a void (i.e. parents never got him the Yorkshire terrier he wanted on his 5th birthday).

When we were younger, my parents knew my brothers and I weren’t going to have traditional marriages. Not every parent is going to let their child run into the wild to figure their own romantic endeavors. They fully accepted the upcoming cultural and generational shifts. Marriage is just the cherry on top for them. I rolled merrily along with my life and didn’t expect anything of it until I met a girl in college who had an arranged marriage. She fell in love with him as time went on, but it was an unusual and fortunate circumstance not everyone is so lucky to have.

Aaron should fully accept the full responsibility of what is to come. If he is percolating the idea of flying to Italy quite heavily then he should tell how Katy how he really feels about her. More importantly, ask him if Katy is his soulmate, or if the timing is right, “his soulsies.”


My stepsister Andrea has a young son named Ruben of 12. He is hyperactive and frequently embarasses her in front of company. I realize he has behavorial problems, but my fiancee isn’t as used to dealing with him as I am. Our wedding is in a few months and she has said in no uncertain terms that she does not want Ruben to be anywhere around us that day.

I realize the possibility of ruining the ceremony would be terrible, but I have suggested as a compromise that he could attend the reception where more than one individual is likely to embarrass themselves. I feel it would be a long-remembered omission to disinvite a member of my family who is a part of our lives, even if he has issues with ADHD.

Mark S.

Dear Mark,

You’re actually thinking of disobeying your-wife-to-be’s wishing on your wedding day? You stupid, naive motherfucker. Compromises are for Chamberlain and when they are all out of whole wheat wraps. If your family holds it against you or your wife that you made this unilateral decision, it’s their problem.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.


“Genesis” – Lau Nau (mp3)

“Kuoleman Laiva” – Lau Nau (mp3)


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