Ask Katharine: First-Date Nerves, Unemployment

The second installment of the Reader’s new advice column, “Ask Katharine.”  Have a problem? Ask Katharine at 


Hi Katharine,

I just got out of a nine-year relationship, and I’m admittedly rusty at the whole dating game. I’ve never really dated before per se, just fallen into relationships with people who started out as friends. I am going on an OkCupid first date next week. So far, we’ve had a winning back and forth by email; he seems really funny and great, but here’s my issue—I am so socially awkward in first-time meetings. I often babble endlessly about meaningless stuff; sometimes I even say things that aren’t true just to say something because the idea of a lull in the conversation is so terrifying. It’s really, really bad. I want to seem like I’m not trying too hard on this date. What do I wear? What do I say? I fear I am going to botch this big time, and be scarred by the experience (and possibly never date again)! HELP!

Dating Dunce


Dear DD,  

Wear a wedding dress. That says, I care so little about this date that I’m willing to destroy any possibility of a future for us. Deranged behavior is the new effortlessness—are you following me? Keep changing accents—start with Cockney. Unprompted—monologue in depth about your fucked up childhood. Tell the same story twice in a row, but the second time around, change one fact. Tell him there are no ordinary moments. Belch daintily in his face.  

The Normcore trend has collapsed the earnest/irony binary. Any attempt at casual behavior is infected by this new context; effortlessness is now synonymous with effort. A certain je ne sais quoi, whimsy, the quirky girl next-door type, tomboys—are forever tarnished. Psychotic behavior is the only mode of comportment that’s devoid of affectation. Remember when Tom Cruise jumped up and down manically on Oprah’s couch? That’s the new normal.

No archetype has been so polarizing, confusing, and seductive in recent film history as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. So go out and buy yourself a copy of the DSM-IV and get yourself that personality disorder. You’ll be making jewelry out of your own baby teeth in no time.



Dear Katharine, 

I’m in a rut. I got laid off from my job; I’ve been really proactive at looking for new jobs, but every opportunity I’ve been interested in has fallen through. I just feel like life keeps slamming doors in my face. Does the adage, ‘when a door closes, a window opens’ hold up here? Should I be looking for an open window? I’m at my wit’s end and I need some perspective! 



Dear Defenestrated, 

When life keeps slamming doors in your face, perhaps you should think about changing locations, to a place with no doors, windows, something with a penitentiary feeling. Then, invest in warming the place up. Add candelabras to the walls, and put those long narrow rugs in the hallways, runners I think they’re called, maybe in a southwestern design.

But I digress—the best advice I’ve ever gotten was from Andy Rooney, who retired or died, I forget which. He said: “The closing of a door can bring blessed privacy and comfort—the opening, terror. Conversely, the closing of a door can be a sad and final thing—the opening a wonderfully joyous moment.” You can’t really know anything when it comes to doors and windows, and assuredly you want to control your destiny as much as it is possible. So eliminate them! And warm the room up, as I said before.




Hey Katharine,

I love reading the New York Times but am too cheap to buy the subscription. I used to have a workaround for the 10 article paywall, but the programmers at NYT finally fixed the vulnerability, and now I can only read 10 articles a month before it blocks me. Got any tips or tricks?


Yes. Direct message me.



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