In Which We Know This Is More Our Problem Than Yours

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 justhardtosay@gmail.com.

Hi,

In recent weeks, my girlfriend Maria and I have begun talking about getting engaged, a conversation that she initiated. In the course of our discussions about whether it is the right step for us, she mentioned that she has no interest in taking my name or having our potential children take my name. I was a bit surprised but I said nothing.

After thinking about it more, I can’t help but feel a bit bothered by this. She has no professional reason not to do it, but my main concern is that kids would find it confusing to be called by different or hyphenated names. Should I bring up this concern to Maria and how should I do it?

Roberto T.

Dear Roberto,

Modernity has equipped us with a phenomenon called concern trolling. It’s actual a quite ancient method. It allows people to offer a series of hypothetical statements intended to shit all over a topic without actually saying what is meant. In your situation, a concern troll might suggest, “Is it really the best for a child to be concerned about her name?”

Nothing actually has a name. These are simply made up designations. You are no more a Roberto than you are Matzoh Ramshackle. You’re just a thing that exists, a thing that spends hours and hours concern trolling yourself, asking, “What should I call things, and what should I call myself?” in a high voice that sounds like Minnie Mouse.

If you really loved Maria, you’d take her name. However, she has not asked you to do this. If you offer, she might take yours, but probably not, because Maria Ramshackle sounds like the name of a prostitute. If you ever have a child, let your wife name it. It came out of her body after all. You can give your most raucous bowel movements your last name.

Hey,

My girlfriend Andrea takes so many showers. Like so many. Whenever we leave our apartment for any extended period of time — when we come back, the first thing she does is shower. Maybe I would understand this if we lived in a particularly dirty city or if she had the same level of obsessiveness about her clothes, which actually touch chairs, couches and seats where other people’s bodies have been.

I know for a fact that she is not OCD about anything else in her life, so this passion for showers is inexplicable to me. When I ask her about it, she just acts like it’s no big deal and she enjoys the private time or whatever. But I mean this is like ninety minutes every single day just holding yourself under running water.

Jessica C.

Dear Jessica,

Given that your girlfriend does not seem terribly worried about making herself clean, it is probably something that she is hiding in the shower. It is at least conceivable that she is using drugs in the shower, or maybe just devouring a giant sized cupcake. I once ate a chicken sandwich in a bathroom; it is not a time in my life I am particularly proud of. She probably could hide both of these habits in easier ways, and there is a simpler explanation: masturbation.

A lot of people feel they can’t masturbate in front of their partner. They don’t want their significant other to feel like because they enjoy pleasuring themselves that it makes the other person inadequate. Many people masturbate within the context of relationships, either because they have a higher sex drive than their partner or more likely because it is an ingrained habit of dealing with stress or anxiety.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

“Crush Tape” – Zero 7 (mp3)

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