In Which We Would Ask You Kindly To Not Explain

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.


The newest Mac operating system is out, and my boyfriend Ed immediately upgraded his computer. Then he upgraded mine. Then he upgraded my phone and his phone and gave me advice about what to do to make it run faster. On some level this kind of advice and dedication to whatever is helpful, but on the other hand it is tremendously annoying that Ed thinks he knows better. His tone borders on condescending when he tells me about it, but never gets too bad. However I am sick of all this mansplaining. Am I wrong?

Janice R.

Dear Janice,

Men feel helpless in the modern era. Since Apple products are easy to use, they quickly become experts at their finer points: they have nothing better to do with their time. If your car breaks down your boyfriend will be like, “It’s probably something with the engine.” Good one, Ed. The words “It’s probably” prefacing any kind of declarative statement are most useless to people who require functional solutions.

It’s probably that Ed is the kind of man, or as I call them, wan, who was raised to be the authoritative source of all information. And if you happen to break up, he will know all your passwords and could possibly even lock you out of your own computer.

To prevent this from happening, explain to Ed that while you would love his help, it’s probably a security issue at work or school, and it’s something you are not prepared to talk about right now, but perhaps when things get more serious.

Then make an observation of a public person — say Barack Obama — and accuse him of mansplaining something to America. Make Ed see that is not OK for a wan to ever fully reveal what he knows. People have to make their own mistakes. And tell him to take off that stupid hat.

just plain afraid to fail


This November will be my first holiday with my girlfriend Freda. We met in yoga class and things have been great. She has been talking about going to a lot of trouble preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for us, and I can’t help but feel that preparations have gone off the rails a bit. Is there a nice way of asking her to scale back?

Cynthia B.


The only way to get out of a six course meal is with a lie, or in this case inventing a memory. Due to the prevalence of psychoanalysis in our society, the one hangup that is universally understood among human being is a desire not to relive the site and feeling of past negative experiences. Simply inform Freda of an extensive bad memory where you were all forced to eat food that was past its expiration date, or simply a meal that wasn’t very tasty.

Isn’t the holiday about more than food? you will scream as you denigrate the foundation of American excess. You can even push this to its logical endpoint: you simply cannot allow yourself to celebrate Thanksgiving until the American Indian is restored what was taken from him. I think Ohio?

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

“Average Person (demo)” – Paul McCartney (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