In Which He Believes They Are Very Delicate

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.


Last year I worked a seasonal job at a horse track in upstate New York. While I was there, I met Thalia. We really had a great summer, but we knew at the end of it I would be heading back to school in the fall. We have stayed in touch despite the distance, although things cooled off considerably and we both saw other people. Lately we have been talking more, and she suggested we get a place together for the summer since I was offered the same job.

Working with horses is fun and I’m good at it, but it is not really what I want to do with my life. I do miss Thalia, but I don’t know if living together, even for a summer, is the right step considering we haven’t seen each other in a year. I know I would enjoy some aspects of it, but I feel like I don’t really know her life and there might be surprises since she is from the area. What should I do?

Aaron M.


Forget Thalia for a moment. Is this town where you would spend your summer if the woman was not involved? If yes, then go there and get your own place. If no, then don’t go there at all. There is probably a reason Thalia wants to get a place with you, and the options are not the best:

her current living situation is bad

she needs your buffer against some jerk

she can’t afford to live on her own

she wants to get more serious than you do

she’s worried about what you do when you aren’t with her

she wants you to cook and clean for her

she wants you to strap her while she shoots up

she’s running a ponzi scheme she wants to involve you in

he’s hiding from creditors

she’s kidnapped a child

she is a kidnapped child

you’re going to prison for the rest of your life

she will send you pictures of yourself

years later you will realize they were cut out of a magazine

she will win the national book award

you tunnel out of prison with a pen knife your mother baked into some eclairs

I could go on. This is not the right move for you. You had a good summer. You can visit and see where things stand.


How much time is normal to spend on the phone with your significant other? I ask because I have been dating a girl I will call Angela for about eight months. Things are going well. In the early days of the relationship, I would call her a lot and we would sometimes have “erotic discussions” over the phone. (She was away for the semester in Brazil.)

Now we see each other a lot and there doesn’t seem to be as much of a need for long conversations on the phone since the “getting to know you, getting to know all about you” period is over. Despite this, Angela expects a phone conversation of over an hour most days. I’d rather use this time on other things so that I don’t have to be doing other things when I’m spending actual, in person time with her. Am I wrong to feel this way?

Allen C.

Dear Allen,

Most people have their phones all the time now. The answering machine was a magnificent invention rendered obsolete by the shortsightedness of the human race. What you need is an ironclad reason why you would not be using your phone at a given time that enables you to ignore a certain percentage of Angela’s calls. Physical pain from holding the phone should waylay Angela for a bit while we find what she really needs: another phone partner.

In fact, maybe you should find her a new boyfriend, since you seem unwilling to do what’s required of you.

But seriously, if you just pretend that you have tinnitus, lie about a trip to the doctor you took, explain that he recommended short phone calls for the safety of your ears and long hand jobs for the safety of your penis region, this problem should fall by the side rather quickly.


My boyfriend Aaron and I have been seeing each other for six months after meeting on Tinder. He is something of a nervous guy at times, never more so than when we are being intimate. He is extremely well-endowed so has nothing to worry about on that front. Still, he gets a little anxious and as we start, begins narrating every aspect of what is happening. The amount of apologies on offer is amazing, but quickly gets old. If my head is accidentally bumped he will stop completely and ask me if I am OK. Once, completely unprompted, he left to get me ice.

I have tried to talk to Aaron about this, but even after I explained, he looks verbally constipated during sex and I can tell he’s not himself. Is it possible to get him over this hump?

Lucianne R.

Dear Lucianne,

I despise puns.

Some men are brought up to think women are very delicate. At the same time, they ignore pretty clear evidence that Angelina Jolie keeps the souls of the men she couples with. Do you think she was like, “Hey Brad, I’m heading for your anus” on that fateful first date? Some things are better when you don’t know about them beforehand, like Ellie Goulding and the Batmobile.

I suggest physical intervention in this case. Aaron won’t shut up, but he probably wants to, so put your finger on his lips and shush him as you take over. Failing that, cover his mouth and nostrils tightly. When he begs for his life, remind him, “I thought I told you to close your trap.”

If you are keen on a more psychological approach, tell him a story about a friend named Marcia Hamsbottom who had an ex-husband who would not stop quoting The Big Lebowski, no matter how many times she told him she hated it. If he says that the name Hamsbottom sounds made-up, wonder aloud how he has not heard of RCA recording artist Duracell Hamsbottom. I think he was in Outkast?

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.



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