How Do I Talk To My Perpetually Stoned Friend?

Plus: gender-specific household items, the unexpected perils of cohabitation, and ending up as the other man.

Scaachi Koul is a senior writer at BuzzFeed Canada, formerly the managing editor of Hazlitt. Her debut collection of essays, The Pursuit of...

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A few weeks ago, my four-year-old niece told me that she preferred “boy toys” rather than “girl toys.” By this, she meant that instead of wanting Barbies and dress-up kits for gifts, she would prefer Mutant Ninja Turtle-themed action figures, or perhaps something that produced fire. (She also told me that she has liked the Transformers since “the ’70s,” but she is a little girl and little girls are idiots.)

As an involved, powerful, sensual adult female figure in her life, I was disappointed to learn that she believed in this gendered segregation of toys. She knows, of course, that she is “allowed” to play with those kinds of toys, but I don’t like that she understands the implicit difference. It’s 2014! We shouldn’t be splitting things up by gender anymore. I mean, by class and race, sure, but not gender!

But you know, there are some products that just have to be marketed to specific sexes: razors, hygiene products, pens.

The newest addition to that gender-specific list is, somewhat surprisingly, cotton swabs, since the fine people at Q-Tips rebranded the product to appeal to the masculine life choice of ear-wax removal.

Look at it! Look how male it is! “Men’s ULTIMATE multi-tool,” it says over a faux-metal backdrop. It is for “cleaning” AND “building”! Before, Q-Tips were your girlfriend’s cotton swabs, something she used to remove nail polish or for a balanced meal when she was on a diet and trying to trick her brain into thinking she was eating bread and not a paper stick. Finally, a cotton swab for men, to fulfill such purposes including:

1. Performing a self-rectal exam for early detection of prostate cancer (next month is National Prostate Health Month!!).
2. Cleaning the triggers of your guns with the safeties defiantly off because this is America.
3. Very slowly, diligently polishing every surface of your truck with the least useful utensil imaginable.
4. Cleaning the inside of your ears while watching Frozen and NOT CRYING because you are a MAN.
5. Swabbing the inside of your mouth to determine if you are, in fact, the father.

But that doesn’t mean only men are allowed to use Q-Tips, in the same way that my niece knows that it isn’t only boys who can look at me piercingly and suggest that I could lose a few pounds. (She is mean.)

So what do you do when someone tells you that a product is unusable simply because you are a man or a woman? Or, alternately, how do you handle companies needlessly gendering products, as if turning a razor pink makes it more appealing to your furry female calves?

You go on ahead and prove those people wrong. If you’re a man, feel no shame in using women’s wax strips to cure your hairy back. If you’re a lady, go on and buy men’s moisturizer for its blissful scentlessness. Be whoever you want to be, and if that means using a woman’s Q-Tip to clean deer blood off your man’s hunting knife, you do you, girlfriend.

My friend smokes a lot of weed. Daily, chronic smoker. It was fun when we were in our mid-to-late 20s, but now, in his mid-30s, the weed is making him into a different person. He’s less meticulous about his appearance, he’s angrier, and he basically lives like a hermit with his parents. Sometimes he can be harsh, and it seems like he’s gapped out all the time—and frankly, he’s not very fun to hang out with anymore. I love this guy, but lately I can’t take his stoniness. Is this my problem, or should I say something? If so, how in the hell do I address this without looking/sounding like a major hypocrite? (P.S.—I smoke still.)

— Oh Abba Zabba, You My Only Friend

I’ve never understood people who claim that weed is a 100 percent non-addictive property. Any human behavior can be addictive. That is why there are shows where sad people build towers from the newspapers of the year their husbands died which later fall over, crushing one of 15 wheezing kittens. I, not being immune to this, have been playing the Simpsons Tapped Out app for longer than I have been in my current relationship, and if it ever came between him and the game, I would have to let him know that, unfortunately, I will be very busy trying to build Krustyland for the foreseeable future. (I wish him luck with his future endeavors and has anyone seen my phone charger.)

Did you know Hitler was a celiac? Well, he wasn’t, BUT WHAT IF HE WAS.

Like most apps, many drugs are probably fine in moderation. With the exception of, say, crack, a little of this or that won’t kill you, and might just make you a better person. (The main reason why being gluten-free is the worst is that everyone in the world needs to eat bread. When people don’t eat bread, wars start. Did you know Hitler was a celiac? Well, he wasn’t, BUT WHAT IF HE WAS.)

But it sounds like your friend is veering into addiction territory, or at least an abject refusal to deal with reality.

As simple as this may sound, have you considered talking to your friend about how much weed he smokes? Ask him if it’s affecting his life in a way he doesn’t like, if it bothers him that he’s a hopeless slob, or if he’s sick of living with his parents when he is old enough to have a mortgage of his own. Maybe he’s heard this before. Your addition might make him defensive, or it just might make him angry, and short of promising him that you’ll quit smoking with him (not something you should say unless you WILL DO IT), you’ll always be a bit of a hypocrite. But if you are keeping a job and paying your rent and washing your hair and armpits and buttcrack, you live your life as you see fit.

I don’t believe a friend is a friend if they can’t tell you the truth. It’s entirely possible he won’t listen to you, but you at least owe it to your old friend to tell him why you aren’t as good friends anymore.

Not every low-level drug problem merits an intervention. Some of the people you love in your 20s become middle-class monsters in your 30s. You can’t stay friends with everyone, and if he won’t help himself, you can’t do it for him. After all, long gone are the days when you two hotboxed your car and did donuts in the Pet Smart parking lot at three in the afternoon. You are grown-ups now. You are entirely different people. Invite him to your wedding; just don’t expect him to give a toast.

*

This is a serious problem.

My boyfriend and I are moving into an awesome apartment in our price range. Yay! Except for one thing.

When we first visited the place, I noticed the neighbours in the apartment directly beside ours had just finished having a serious domestic dispute. The woman, with visible bruises, left the apartment yelling back to her boyfriend/husband that she was going to go to the police. Eep.

We started moving stuff in today and could hear them arguing again (through the walls and open windows) and it seemed like it might have gotten physical. This is the second time we have been to our new place, so I’m guessing this might be a regular occurrence. Our plan so far is to call the police every time we hear a serious domestic dispute. Not for noise (my boyfriend is a musician, so we have zero grounds for complaining about noise to anyone), but for safety and legitimate concern that it might turn deadly. Is there anything else we can do? The apartment with the domestic abuse is owned by a different landlord. Approaching these strangers is not really an option because 1) they are Francophone, we are Anglophone, and, while we speak French, it lacks the finesse needed to talk to strangers about their violent fights, and 2) our own safety concerns. It’s pretty clear that the boyfriend is an aggressive person, and I don’t want to feel threatened. We live in Montreal, if that information helps.

— Calling The Cops

You’re right. This is a serious problem. Let’s handle it seriously.

I don’t live in Quebec, but I called SOS Violence Conjugale, a bilingual organization that offers support to victims of domestic violence. They told me that all you can really do is call the police any time you hear a dispute in their unit. It sounds like the apartment is in another building entirely, not just separated by some plaster and peeling paint. That isn’t a fight, that’s an all-out attack. And if you have seen this woman leaving the apartment battered and threatening her partner that she’ll go to the police, it sounds like she isn’t 100 percent in denial about her circumstances. It’s possible that it’s not just you worried about her circumstances.

Unfortunately, calling the police is really all you can do. You aren’t her friend, you don’t know how much danger she is really in, and there’s a slight language barrier. Women facing domestic abuse often need to have a plan when escaping their abusers: you can’t pull her out offer relationship, or the apartment. She needs to ask for help. You also need to be careful about approaching her too boldly about it, since it sounds like her partner could either retaliate against her or you and your boyfriend.

It sounds like the apartment is in another building entirely, not just separated by some plaster and peeling paint. That isn’t a fight, that’s an all-out attack.

If you don’t think you are ready or able to befriend this woman enough to find out what’s going on, maybe try to surreptitiously pass her some information. Is there a coffee shop you both frequent? Leave a few of SOS’s cards on their community board. A common laundry spot? Put up a few flyers with domestic violence hotlines. Whatever you can do to try to get the message to her that is subtler than leaving a note on her door that says “IS SOMEONE HURTING YOU, CAN I HELP?”

Until then, call the police every time you hear them escalate. It’s possible the authorities have visited them before for this very thing, so it’s important they keep track of how violent he’s getting. You can ask to remain anonymous if you have concerns about retaliation. If it needs to be a noise complaint, then make it. There’s a big difference between someone calling the cops because your boyfriend is slappin’ da bass (ughhhh), and you calling the cops because you can hear gruesome violence next door.

*

A longtime friend and I have recently started having feelings for one another. It boiled over recently, and we fooled around back at her place after going out to dinner. Problem is, she’s in a long-term relationship that’s starting to come apart at the seams.

Now, she flirts heavily with me, sometimes to the point of making me uncomfortable because she’s not acting like herself. I’ve told her straight-up that I’d like to be there as a friend, at least as long as she’s still in a relationship. That’s also a tough position for me to be in. Any advice?

— Just Want To Be Friends

Ha ha oh boy you stupid idiot.

Some people think you should never date your friends, because the mess that ensues is more work than the pleasure of the relationship. This is probably true, but an even more hard-and-fast rule is do not date your friends ESPECIALLY when they have just gotten out of a relationship and have not had time to recover. And an even more important rule is that YOU DO NOT FOOL AROUND WITH YOUR FRIENDS WHEN THEY ARE STILL DATING OTHER PEOPLE.

The scenario you are now living out is exactly why you are not supposed to do the thing that you did. But you did it. Here we are. Living through this together.

The scenario you are now living out is exactly why you are not supposed to do the thing that you did.

Your friend was using you as an outlet for a relationship she isn’t happy in. Instead of doing the thing you are supposed to do—break up, feel sad for a second, then have a bunch of sex with a few haircuts—she is doing it the other way around. Do not date this friend. Don’t even date her after she gets out of her relationship. She is emotionally immature and needs to deal with her baggage before you start getting involved with her. At this point, you can hardly be her friend because she is making it so WEIRD. It would be one thing if you guys did it and then realized it was a terrible idea and oops, okay, let’s never talk about that again, see you in a few weeks Steve, when we go back to normal.

Instead, she is hitting on you. Weird!

First, you need to decide what you want from this friend. Do you want to go back to being pals, or do you actually want to try to have a relationship? If it’s the latter, tell her she has to dump her current partner, and you two can work it out. But if you are not interested in whatever she is putting down, TELL HER before she asks you out to prom. You can’t expect her not to want more from you if you, her dear, trustworthy friend, has just rubbed up against her. Ultimately, your friendship may be broken for good, but it has absolutely no chance of improving if you don’t tell her to stop sitting on your lap whenever you go out in public.

Save no-strings-attached sex for the people you don’t actually want to see again: bartenders, DJs, and “social media managers.”

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