In Which These Things Will Happen In A Decade Or More

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.


How is important is it that a couple have things in common, e.g. similar interests or hobbies?

Jason Q.


There is this really disturbingly misogynistic scene in the movie High Fidelity where the protagonist Rob (John Cusack) goes on about how the most important thing two people can have in a relationship is a shared like of the same things: music, movies, food, whatever. I kept expecting his statement to be undermined somehow, since up to that point in High Fidelity we have learned virtually nothing about the woman, Laura, who walked out of his life other than that she was upset when her father died and needed to have intercourse with him.

By the end of High Fidelity, Laura has taken a renewed interest in what Rob likes: his music, his friends, the band he plans to manage. In contrast, she works an office job and has no specific hobbies or passions. Well, High Fidelity is kind of mean to women in general, but this general theme operates much the same in the real world. What people mean by shared passions is generally the passions of one person in the relationship, who prizes the other person because they are able to pretend to be interested in the same things.

Once I was eating lunch at a pizza place when I overheard a man telling his girlfriend about what the Green Bay Packers could do to be more effective in their running game. I felt a genuine sympathy for her, because even if she was interested in football generally, no person could ever care about what he was saying.

I have learned to not judge what keeps other couples together. There is a lot of conversational time to fill in the context of a relationship, and if you do not have something you can talk about it other than yourselves, your friends and your day, you are going to have a bad time.


I am five months pregnant with my first child, a boy. My husband Theo and I are very excited for this new addition to the family, but lately I have been feeling a bit fixated on the guy who Theo wanted to be the godfather, Mark. Mark is a friend of Theo’s from college, and he still acts like he is still in college despite being closer to middle-age. He smokes pot and drinks, which would be fine in itself, but he frequently inebriates himself to the point of not remembering his activities. 

I’m worried Mark will continue this kind of behavior around the baby. Theo decided the godfather thing would be a bad idea, but says that Mark will probably grow up by the time our child is old enough to notice. Am I right to be worried?

Ashley T.

Dear Ashley,

Mark sounds like a bunch of human garbage, but he’s not going to be the baby’s parents: you are. Sometimes children need a bad example to understand how things can go so terribly wrong. You know those cautionary tales that head into juvenile prisons to educate youths on the dangers of drug addiction, prostitution and reading the Atlantic? Mark could play this key role for your chile. Upon his departure you can quietly exhale to your son, whose name will probably also be Ashley, that Mark just didn’t make the right choices in life. “Mark thinks Cristela is a really light-skinned black woman!” you can crow deliciously as this ne’er-do-well leaves your child’s house.

Also, Mark will probably be dead in a decade or more, so why worry about things that may never come to pass? Just pretend to be accomodating now and put your foot down later.

I assume you’re having a water birth?

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


“Little Jerusalem” – The Magnetic North (mp3)

“Remains of Elmer” – The Magnetic North (mp3)


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