The Help Desk: Bad dog

Every Friday, Cienna Madrid offers solutions to life’s most vexing literary problems. Do you need a book recommendation to send your worst cousin on her birthday? Is it okay to read erotica on public transit? Cienna can help. Send your questions to

Dear Cienna,

My dog threw up on a first edition my girlfriend loaned me from her dead mother’s library. I of course told her right away and apologized. She accepted my apology, but I still feel awful. I’m not much of a reader so maybe you can help. Is there something sweet and literary I can do to make up for it?

Chris, Chicago

Dear Chris,

My father used to tell me "the world isn't full of problems, it's full of opportunities" and while I didn't often listen to him – he had a severe drinking opportunity until the day he died – in your case, his advice is applicable. Here is what he would've recommended you do:

Take out a few of your most treasured possessions – Yeezy sneaks, CPAP machine, whatever the kids are into these days – and line them up on your coffee table. Then invite your girlfriend over, cook her favorite meal, and lace it with ipecac. Seconds to minutes later when she begins to projectile vomit, point her at the lineup and let her go to town. Immediately afterward – this is important – kiss her firmly on the mouth without flinching and offer to split a handle of Tito's with her.

However, if you've never lightly poisoned a loved one before and don't think you have the stomach for it (HAHAHA), I suggest looking for an upcoming reading or literary event that she might enjoy and buying tickets to it.