In Which Only Sleep Abates This Discomfort

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 boyfriend Thomas enjoys talking before we go to sleep. In the past I have been fine with this, but I recently took a job that leaves me exhausted at the end of the night. I brought this up to him and he acted really depressed and rejected and now turns over to go to sleep as soon as we get in bed. Surely there is some middle group between retreating into a clam shell and chattering like a teenager?

Leslie C.

Dear Leslie,

There is unfortunately no middle ground here. In relationships couples often have different bedtimes. For example, Jennifer Garner went to bed after a glass of Pinot Noir while Ben escorted the nanny to her modest lodgings in the family’s guest house. It is important for a couple to go to bed at the same time, so I suggest that you get Thomas engaged in some activity that leaves him suitably put out by your bedtime. Have you considered intercourse?

You could also shush him.


My brother Eamon met his girlfriend at college. He is not even of legal drinking age yet and he has discussed with my parents how he plans to propose to her and how she is the love of his life. My parents are skeptical of the speed of this development but approve of my brother’s choice of partner. Given that this is his first real relationship, I don’t doubt that love exists, but I don’t think jumping into marriage is particularly necessary. Should I try to change events, or allow them to happen?

Maxine P. 

Dear Maxine,

Women used to get married and settle down in college all the time. But back in this dark period, their options were largely limited to the following:

– Larry

– Larry’s friend Robert

– A guy from home whose only virtue was lockpicking

– The nunnery

Now women have tons of options, and a much longer period of time before they indenture themselves. Think of it this way though: would you really want your brother going through his next ten years looking for love and never finding it when it’s right in front of his eyes?

A young divorce isn’t the worst thing in the world either. You have to kinda get one out of your system. It’s much more difficult to be divorced later on in life, as a result of your husband creating a meaningful emotional connection with the nanny of your children.


Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

“Phone in a Pool” – Ben Folds (mp3)

“Yes Man” – Ben Folds (mp3)



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