In Which We Finish Our Work For The Rest Of The Week

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


I live with three roommates. Recently, one of them got married and moved on, and we replaced her with a new roommate, Ana.   

Ana plays music very loudly and doesn’t really socialize with the rest of us. The latter is fine and the former is whatever, but when we ask her to turn the music down or join us for some activity, she is outright rude. We have gone from living with three friends to an adversarial relationship that affects every aspect of our lives. Furthermore, we are not really sure the reason that Ana acts like this.

After four more months, we can kick her out without much of a fuss, but it is going to be a long four months. Do you have any suggestions as to how to alleviate this problem in the interim?

Rachel S.


Once Ana needs you for some reason or another, she will become a lot more pliable. Your challenge consists of putting her in the situation of needing her. Any number of lies or deceits could get her into this position, but it is perhaps best just to inconvenience her in a legal and practical way. Three against one is an advantage that she cannot possibly overcome.

Asking the super to kill your water for a day and then acting like you did Ana a huge favor by taking care of it for her is the kind of harmless favor that could really put you in her good graces. Unless she is a like a plant that would shrivel up and die, the consequences are relatively harmless.


One member of my family, my cousin Arnold, is a major Trump supporter. At our gatherings and holidays, he always wants to talk politics and makes things particularly frustrating. He is the type of person who is not really emotionally involved in what is going on — it seems like he cheers Trump on as you might a local sports team.

Is there any way to change this poisonous behavior? We have asked him to stop talking politics before and he laughs it off.

Yasmine W.

Dear Yasmine,

The easiest thing to do would probably to get the President himself involved. This is not difficult at all, as Mr. Trump has plenty of free time, most of which he spends on twitter. Make a recording of Arnold saying something potentially questionable about the president, and take the clip completely out of context. I mean, sometimes he might critique Mr. Trump’s hair or bib, and that would be a moment to record.

Mr. Trump will immediately step out against Arnold, postponing all national security decisions, sleep and intercourse with his wife to post about Arnold. He will post something like, “Never heard of this Ahnold. Is he as impotent as Schwarzenegger? Where’s my brisket?” When you’ve been attacked by the president on twitter, you’re not really going to be praising him at family gatherings anymore.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.


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