The Paris Review: Dear Lynda: Diary Snoops and Ill-Advised Marriages

“Dear Lynda: Diary Snoops and Ill-Advised Marriages” / The Paris Review / Lynda Barry / November 30, 2017

Dear Lynda,

I am a bit of a snoop, though I’ve really been trying to be better about it. But lately, my new roommate has taken to leaving her diary in the bathroom. This is just curious behavior anyway. Is she documenting her bladder movements? I need to know! I must resist! Help me.

All the very best,
Nosy in Nashville

 

Dear Nosy,

Get your own diary and make sure it’s about the same size as hers and leave it in the bathroom beside hers. Write in your diary about how badly you want to read her diary but you know you must resist. And how you have resisted. And why you must continue to resist. Do a still-life drawing of her diary in your diary. If her diary is still in the bathroom in a week, write about that. At the end of the year, you may have a book on your hands.

Sincerely,
Lynda B.


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Dear Lynda,

I have lost every water bottle I’ve ever owned. And on every gift-giving occasion, my sweet, caring boyfriend will buy me a new one. Sometimes I’ll manage to hang onto it for a week, sometimes a month, but inevitably, I wind up losing it. When the time comes around for him to wrap something up for me, I am once again in need of a Nalgene or S’well or Hydro Flask or whatever the latest consumer trend in hydration is. This has moved beyond being mildly frustrating (and vaguely worrisome as to my mental health). Now I fear it might begin to have implications for my relationship. Is there some kind of subconscious connection I draw between my boyfriend and these water bottles? Is it possible that losing these is a way of trying to lose him as well? Or maybe the question is, how long can I lose water bottles until he finally gets sick of buying me new ones and decides he no longer wants a thoughtless, dehydrated girlfriend?

Yours,
Hapless in Hackensack

 

Dear H in H

I read this question to a few four-year-olds and in response to the question of a possible connection between you losing the water bottles and how you may subconsciously feel about your boyfriend, they insist there is no connection.

But they have unexpectedly taken the side of the water bottles and advise you to stop getting any more of them. “Tell her she gotsta be careful of the water bottles!” They predict your lost water bottles will return for revenge and will come back as an army and be filled with lava.

They say for you to stop getting more water bottles. I’m inclined to agree.

Sincerely,
Lynda B.

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Dear Lynda,

My after-work language tutor and I have decided to get married. But hold the congratulations—we’re not intimately involved. His visa is expiring soon, he’d like to stay in the U.S., and I have no romantic prospects on the horizon anyway. I do have to admit that I find his accent charming, and I like the sparkle in his eyes. What are all the ways in which this might go wrong?

Sincerely,
Green Love and Green Cards

 

Dear GL and GC,

The first question is: What are all the ways it could it go right? The second one is: Why does everyone shake their head a little and look concerned when you tell them about this? The third one is: Are there stories of people who have done exactly what you are contemplating? My guess is there are plenty of them. Why not spend an evening looking into just what has gone right with this arrangement and what things have gone wrong. Find some firsthand stories. And if you feel yourself secretly falling in love, ask your language tutor how to say heartbreak in five different ways.

Sincerely,
Lynda B.

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