The Help Desk: How to get an English degree from Cienna Madrid University

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Dear Cienna,

Oh my goodness I'm in a pickle. I met a guy on this website where you talk about books. I'm super insecure about how well read I am so I kind of lied to him and told him I had a degree in English Lit. We really hit it off and he asks me for book recommendations that I spend hours researching online, and that my friend who actually HAS a degree in English Lit helps me to suggest to him. Thing is, in every other way we get along really great and after a really long time flirting we're going to meet up. He's been pressing to meet and I'm so worried about it! Besides wearing a headphone and having my friend Cyrano my way through dinner, what can I do so that he does't find out I'm a fraud and hate me!?

Corinne, Capitol Hill

Dear Corinne,

No, a pickle is listing a spider as your emergency contact at work and then having a medical emergency. What you're doing is snow-angeling in a shitpile of your own creation.

A lesser advice columnist – the unimaginative type who emotes at weddings and lists human beings as their emergency contacts – would probably advise you to come clean about your lies. But seeing as how you've gustily embraced this lie, and chances are this relationship will end before death takes one or both of you, why kill it prematurely with something as dull as the truth? Here is some food for thought:

  1. Your love interest is never going to ask to see your English lit. degree. But if he does, I have one that you are welcome to. It qualifies you to make coffee for people with computer science degrees and comes with a t-shirt that says "Sheeple Read Google, I Read Gogol," and $90,000 in debt.

  2. Researching books is in some cases a better use of time than reading the things themselves. I've researched many Hemingway books that I have never read, or only partially read, because blah blah blah icebergs and also how many questions can you read that end in statements without losing your goddamn mind.

Meet up with this guy and if the conversation turns to books, take command by asking lots of questions. Everyone loves to talk about their opinions and they are often so flattered to be asked that they forget to return the favor. If he does ask for your opinion, either respond with "samesies," or "I found the work derivative."

One final note: You could actually read the goddamn books. They don't have expiration dates and I'm assuming your eyeballs aren't painted on. Just read the books.