Sedaratives: John Hodgman

Sedaratives: John Hodgman

John Hodgman
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Dear Sedaratives,

I’m forty-five and still live with my parents. I tell people that I’m taking care of my elderly father, but nobody believes me. Can you help me come up with a better excuse?

My best,
Detroit, Mich.

Dear Ben,

I am confused—is your explanation an excuse or the truth? If it is the truth and you are in fact caring for your elderly father, then your friends are monsters and you should stop talking to them immediately. Who is a boy’s best friend, after all? His father, naturally. And when his father dies, a boy’s best friend is the preserved corpse of his father that the boy keeps in the fruit cellar and still visits every day to receive instructions on what to do about his so-called friends.

Alternately, if you are simply making an excuse and you are not taking care of your father, then you, sir, are the monster. Be a good son: get down to the fruit cellar and give the old man some gruel. He raised you, for God’s sake!

But the larger message is: you should not care what other people think of the choices in your life, and no matter what, you should have a fruit cellar.



Dear Sedaratives,

I got into a bar brawl last night and ended up losing a tooth. I’ve considered getting an implant, but I think the gap in my smile looks kinda badass. What do you think? Should I leave it alone or go to the dentist?

Warm regards,
Chris Howell
St. Louis, Mo.

Dear Chris,

If you were really a badass, you wouldn’t be asking for my advice. You’d just go to the dentist and punch that guy in the mouth. (Hint: Because that’s a dentist’s weak spot; elsewhere on their bodies, they feel no pain. It’s like hitting a bag of angry meat.)

So I would instead suggest getting an implant. Make sure it’s a removable fake tooth like the kind Quint had in the movie Jaws. Then you can choose how “badass” and “drunken-sailory” you wish to appear by pulling the tooth out at will. That will shut those fancy-pants marine biologists up!


P.S. I know nothing about fighting.

P.P.S. Please don’t actually go and hit a dentist.


Dear Sedaratives,

I want to get a tattoo but just can’t decide on the right one. I want something that makes me look cool but that doesn’t completely horrify my parents. Any suggestions?


Sarah Walters
Los Angeles, Calif.

Dear Sarah,

I thought tattoos were amusing until my own daughter got a huge face-and-neck tattoo of Dan Zanes. That is the one tattoo that looks cooler on a thirty-five-year-old than on a five-year-old, and the whole family regrets it. Generally speaking, I think there is a generation of former hipsters and aging sorority sisters and cannibal whale harpooners who will deeply regret this trend once they catch a view of their fifty-year-old scrawled-upon bodies in the mirror after they shower. The one exception is if you get a MAD magazine fold-in tattooed to your belly, which reveals a new picture as your flab and folds increase with time. That would be delightful. But if you really want a new look, why don’t you try busting out your own tooth?



Dear Sedaratives,

I’ve recently started reading only books in oversize print. I know these are meant for people with eyesight problems, but I get a real sense of accomplishment from finishing a hundred pages in just a few minutes. A friend tells me that this is the equivalent of using the handicap stall in a public restroom. Is he right, or am I?


Dennis Sawyer

Albuquerque, N.M.

Dear Dennis,

It is the same only insofar as, like handicap stalls, large-print books offer you (a) more room to maneuver and (b) handy guard-rails. I can appreciate how handy (and cappy!) these features can be, but your friend is correct that acquiring such versions of a book requires some etiquette.

I do not think you have anything to apologize for unless you are actually stealing these books from the blind or nearly blind. If you are doing this, let me ask—how did you get around the dog? That’s the one part of the puzzle I’ve never been able to crack.

Now, on the other hand, perhaps you are simply purchasing the large-print edition. Then all you are doing is artificially inflating the size of the large-print market. The worst that could happen is that publishers come to the conclusion that we are all going blind! Is that so bad? Then: Free dogs for everyone! And you get to take them into Broadway shows!


P.S. The above does not apply to braille editions of books, which are very fun for the fingertips, but much more scarce and difficult to replace, as they are made by special birds.

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