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Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Reviews Editor
Ethan Peterson

This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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« In Which We Pretend That It Never Happened »

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.


I know that no one is perfect, but bad puns really bother me. I guess even more so when they are not actually puns and more like metaphorical descriptions of my boyfriend's own invention. I have told him that I do not want to hear about his penis meadow or anything "humorous" about his balls. It's not that the subject itself grosses me out, and testicular cancer is a leading cause of death among young bros. 

It's more just his entire way of speaking has started to get on my nerves. We have been together more than two years and I know I should not let these niggling, trifling aspects of our relationship bother me. Is this indicative of a broader problem or am I simply nitpicking/blowing this way out of proportion?

Jana L.


It is easy to get on someone's nerves when you know them pretty well. At some point you gave your boyfriend a response to this behavior that he liked, even if that is not at all what you were trying to indicate. 

Since this is a problem with a simple solution, you need to approach it in the same way. Obviously you need a way to seriously communicate with him that this is unacceptable and potentially un-American. Sit him down like you are going to break up with him, and then reveal the situation. He will do anything you say after that.


In the wake of my recent breakup, I have had a really hard time meeting people. It is very difficult to tell whether a guy is looking for something serious or not, and I find myself becoming more withdrawn – this is not the kind of person that I am, and I sense it is not super attractive when combined with the fact I sometimes bring up my ex or seem cynical about relationships. I don't want to be like this, but questions about why I am dating online seem to come up no matter what I do. 

The larger problem is that I seem to be either moving things too slowly, or not giving off the right vibe to find a relationship. Do you have any tips for this?

Moana C.

Dear Moana,

I have tips for everything, even great lunches you can give kids. 

You have to demand the best from potential partners. If you do not, or excuse them for things, they will either identify you as not a romantic option, or learn that they can treat you however they want. Let me tell you a quick story about my friend Laura. Laura was dating a guy and he stood her up one time. He had an excuse, but I don't remember what it was, but it sounded flimsy as fuck. She really liked him so she pretended it didn't happen and accepted his apology. Two weeks later he was killed in a car accident. 

Did you like the twist ending? If someone isn't treating you the way you want to be treated, you should tell them. The fact that they may not know you very well is all the more reason to set up those boundaries now. 

At the same time, it is important to push the momentum of a new relationship. If you like someone, you should want to spend a fair amount of time with them. Such activities not only leave a distinct impression on men, but they reveal a whole heck of a lot – like if he is texting other girls, or as he probably refers to them, possibles.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

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