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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a number of years, I have known a wonderful woman I will call Helen. Recently, she confided in me that she has been seeing a married man. He tells her that he wants to be with her, and that he will divorce his wife to do so.
Through some covert research I have learned this is rather unlikely. I find myself attracted to Helen and I think we would make a great couple, but this married guy keeps stringing her along. Other advice columnists have informed me there is nothing that I can do that won’t make me look like a total asshole and end up reminding Helen of this for-shit period of her life.
You are my final hope.
These days people are more sensitive to not getting involved in the business of others. To recognize the achievements of shit disturbers of the past, we need only look to the cinema of yore. Joan Crawford starred in an amazing 1941 comedy about this very subject, which was humorously called When Ladies Meet. She played this stuck-up trash novelist who wouldn’t give Jimmy the time of day. Instead, she planned to spend the rest of her life with her editor, whose first name was Rogers and who was a grade-A asshole with a wonderful wife named Clara (Greer Garson).
Joan Crawford was already getting hard to look at by this point. Nevertheless Jimmy was in love with her for some reason. Actually, I know the reason: she has this great fucking apartment that sort of looked out on Brooklyn and the view of the bridge was grand. It was implied that the rent on this place was a whole eight cents per month.
Jimmy (Robert Taylor) does not want to see his friend hurt, so he befriends Rogers’ wife Clara and brings her up to this summer palace in Connecticut where Rogers and Joan Crawford meet to “review” her “manuscript.” He tells Joan that Clara is his cousin. The whole thing climaxes when the two women have a heart to heart. Clara explains that she really loves her husband, even though he’s human shit. Joan informs her how deeply in love they are.
By this point Rogers has started to sour on Joan Crawford’s character. He was never very fond of her novels to begin with, and through various dialogue we come to understand that the book in question is about a wonderful woman who breaks up a marriage. How topical. After the reveal, Rogers dumps Joan Crawford but his wife is disillusioned, so she dumps him.
What does this mean for you? Several things, I’d imagine. First of all, do you really care for and respect this Helen of yours? Because she sounds like she has lax morals. I’d have a hard time trusting a person like that, and you should never date a writer anyway. They lie too much.
You are probably just attracted to Helen because of her self-destructive streak. Still, you would most likely be doing her a favor by busting up this most untenable situation. If you are going to ruin some lives, either commit to it or wait for it to happen on its own. Don’t bother inching towards Hell. It’s a part of the most fantastic binary ever constructed by Man or God.
Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.