I was talking on the phone with my brother not long ago, and while we were saying our good-bye I told him I loved him. He seemed hesitant to return the words. I haven’t said it again since, but it’s been on my mind. What’s wrong with telling your brother you love him? Could it be some deep-seated homophobia?
Feeling Unloved in Alaska
Dear Feeling Unloved in Alaska?
I am confused. Are these questions for real or is this column a joke? If this is real, I would say that it is often hard for siblings to connect after so many difficult years of rivalry and competition for the love of their parents. If this is a fake letter then I am not sure what to say. Am I supposed to make a joke?
My neighbor’s dog has been leaving “surprises” on my front lawn. I’ve complained about it repeatedly, but he refuses to curb his dog or, at the very least, keep the mutt on a leash. Legally, does this give me the right to take a dump on his property?
Ready to Poop
Dear Ready to Poop?
This one feels like a fake letter. The question is not very funny or unique. I thought the Believer was written by smart, literate people. Or maybe they are so smart that they don’t know how to write dirty questions and jokes. I wonder if these questions are lame as some sort of ironic comment on how the magazine feels about me.
My son was just diagnosed with a wheat allergy. Does this mean he’s going to be rotten at competitive sports?
Handwringing father in St. Louis
Dear Handwringing in St. Louis,
Now, this is the type of question that only an egg-head unfunny human can write. When looked at from every possible direction it is devoid of humor. It is also so unfunny that there’s no way for me to spin it funny, even if I comment on how unfunny it is. I don’t see how any of this promotes “Funny People.” Maybe that is the whole point. They are so against that type of promotion and publicity that they invite me to answer these questions, knowing I will fail. My failure is their intellectual way of attacking me for being commercial. I can’t believe the Believer is so mean and judgmental.
I’m reading a book and I really hate it, but I’m almost done. I think I’m going to ﬁnish it, but I’m having an existential crisis re: wasting my life reading a book I hate. On the other hand, my parents raised me to believe that once you read the ﬁrst page, you’re committed to the last page. But this book is just so bad. Any advice?
See, this one feels real. I like this question. I personally own thousands of books and have read maybe twenty in the last ﬁve years. I have read one or two pages of all of them. So I say, put it down with pride. Shit, the Believer just got me to admit how illiterate and uneducated I am.
I’m getting married next weekend and my bride-to-be has decided that we should write our own vows. Can you help me come up with something that’s (a) totally romantic, and (b) lets my bros know that I think this is just as queer as they do?
Hoping Not to Look Like a Fag at the Altar
Dear Hoping Not to Look Like a Fag at the Altar,
This one is clearly a joke meant to comment on the current trend of “bromance comedies,” which some have blamed on me. If I answer this one, I am accepting the fact that they think I would use words like bros and queer. So I refuse to respond, even with a joke as a form of protest. Think about my movies, really think about them, and you will see there are all sorts of levels and shit in there.
How do I get rid of this cowlick? Besides a hat, I mean.
Confused in San Francisco
Dear Confused in San Francisco,
Now I am embarrassed. I have clearly used an ironic approach to answer these questions as a way to seem like I ﬁt into the style of the Believer, when the truth is that I don’t even understand what the style of the Believer is and actually have a hard time reading it because it’s so damn smart. I like twenty-page articles on the history of the Helvetica font and interviews with Todd Haynes as much as the next guy, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I like saying I read the Believer more than I like actually reading it. It looks great in the magazine rack in my bathroom and sitting on the ﬂoor of my ofﬁce. And even though I have never read one cover-to-cover, I glow in the pride of being a buyer of it when people notice I have it on an airplane or when I read it in front of them so they know I am smart. So fuck you, the Believer, for exposing me like this. I don’t need you. I think leaving a Mc-Sweeney’s around makes me look cool enough.