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Dear Myrtle,

There is a boy, “Mike,” who likes me. He is nice and has a car, which he drives me around in a lot. We are legitimately friends, but I’m just not interested in him as anything more. My problem is that he likes me, and wants me bad, but I don’t want him. How do I tell him and still get him to take me around in his car?


—Friend or Enemy

Look here FOE,

Think carefully before you answer. Who exactly are you friends with, Mike or his Miata? You say you’re “legitimately friends,” but I notice you aren’t worried about the loss of your friendship if you tell him you don’t like him that way, just the loss of your wheels. Using somebody for his car is marginally better than using somebody for sex or to make an ex jealous, but you’re still a user, FOE-bag. Do you genuinely like Mike as a friend? If so, tell him you’re not interested and see if the friendship survives. If you genuinely like his car, tell him you’re not interested, get the hell out, and pick up a part-time job to buy yourself your own bleeping car.


Hello Myrtle,

I’m an adjunct professor in a certain geek-populated department at Carnegie Mellon. I’m happily married, and my wife is expecting our first child in December. Here’s the problem. I’m a ginormous Lord of the Rings fan, which my wife is tolerant of to a point. The point — naming our son. I’ve always dreamed of naming my son Frodo, but my wife says it will scar him for life and wants to name him John after her father. John! Only the dullest name on the face of the Earth, not to mention Middle Earth. What can I do?

—Professor in Peril

Hello PIP,

I’ll preface my answer by saying that whatever name you end up picking, your son will hate it, and therefore hate you, for at least some period of his life. No matter how many of your LOTR-lovin’ genes are dominant, PIP junior is going to go through a period of adolescent rebellion when he blames you for just about everything, including all the middle-schoolers who mocked him for his dorky name. Now, down to the issue. Names have power (why do you think Aragorn kept his secret for so long?) and as we know from our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, power comes with responsibility. The name you pick will deeply affect your son’s life, and it’s your responsibility not to screw him over too badly. Also, it’s important that you find a compromise with your wife over this — you don’t want to begin your son’s life with a bitter feud. Here’s my suggestion. Why not find a name from Lord of the Rings or another fantasy realm that’s a bit less obtrusive? Sam, for instance, or even Merry? A child with a name like Frodo or Smeagol can never escape his naming; it will hang over him his whole life. If you pick a name, though, that has other connotations besides Middle Earth ones, you’ll not do your son such a disservice. Another option is middle names — if you give your son a slightly wacky middle name but a fairly normal first name, he can choose to go by either when he reaches the period in his life when weird names are again cool. Run some of these ideas by your wife and see what she says. Naming babies (like many other baby-related processes) is a two-person job. Good luck, and send me a picture of the little Hobbit!

Cheers, Myrtle

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