Atom for Atom: Your Silly Questions Answered (Ugh, Again?), Part 1

I guess since last time I wrote an advice column it didn’t go so poorly, and considering that my other writing outlet consists of translating mundane legal documents into iambic tetrameter and I’m fresh out of ‘Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding’, here I am, you guys. 

These are actual questions that have been posed to me through various outlets, and my answers do not reflect the official opinions of FIVE THôT, the Internets, or my mother. Any rebroadcast or reproduction without the consent of the NFL is strictly prohibited.


Do you think it’s necessary to read ‘good’ books? Do you have any book recommendations?


Dear Author of Twilight,

People forget how subjective and complex literature, like all art forms, is. During my undergrad I wrote some visceral prose about my ongoing struggle with spirituality, and then someone read it and asked if it was about George W Bush. That really speaks more to my awful writing than it does to them being stupid, but they presently wear overalls with Crocs and live in Middle America so who’s laughing now, douchebag.

Anyways, I think ‘good’ literature means that it is honest. A professor and close friend once said, “Something only has a soul when it is honest, when the love for itself is overshadowed by its love for truth.” My interpretation is that something should speak for itself, and should exist to change something. In short, stop reading only shitty romance novels, or literature by Western White men, or books with a female protagonist in search of love, as if that’s the only achievement a woman should strive for. I don’t mean to say these genres can’t be good, but I assure you there’s some baller Creative Non-Fiction out there, or some contemporary short fiction, or daresay an epistolary novel.

My lifelong loves: Italo Calvino’s ‘Invisible Cities’, David Foster Wallace’s ‘Consider the Lobster’, literally anything by Joyce Carol Oates (‘Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart’)



What’s up with Syria? Is it even important or is it just another phase like the El Niño phenomenon?


Dear John Kerry or That Overeager 15 year-old Who Wants to Sit at the Adult Table,

Man, oh man, Syria. It’s difficult to pinpoint just what went wrong with Syria. Lol jk it’s the white man’s fault. Some people will deny the influence of Western colonialism, but the evidence suggests otherwise, at least from the Starbucks I’m sitting in1

It’s almost like white people came in to their house, lit the living room on fire, then made a lounge/office for themselves in the garage, installed a Craigslist-used jungle gym on a large rock in the backyard, killed the dog, and then left for awhile. And we’re now real surprised the neighbors are pissed there’s electrical wires coming through their driveway and the youngest son is now in a gang.

Okay, that’s a half-truth. The other half is that the son has night terrors and was born an intolerant racist and the neighbors are Finnish (the MOST annoying of cultures) and the house has terrible water pressure. In short, you can call This Old House and Dr. Phil all day long, but that home is a buzzkill2.



Do you have any recommendations on how to be yourself? I don’t want to appear as fake.


God Damnit Tilda Swinton,

Listen, you’ve got two people inside you— I immediately regret saying that. But you do. You have the person who you are, who you will always be, and you have the person who you are becoming, and what will never be. These—You know what, go watch the movie ‘Sliding Doors’ with Gwyneth Paltrow, and then get back to me. It’ll save us all a lot of time. If you’ve seen it and still don’t know how to be yourself, then try becoming a rock climber. Those assholes seem to have everything figured out, don’t they.

I always say, be open to everything and listen more than you speak. Oh, and try typing in all caps when you text or email people. Not only will they respond quicker, but also you’ll be a badass ‘cuz caps lock is cruise control for cool.



Are tattoos unprofessional? I want to get a tattoo on my wrist but I don’t want to screw myself out of future job opportunities.


Dear Two Glasses of Franzia Away from a Nautical Star,

I get this query a lot, maybe because I have tattoos or maybe because I work in a corporate environment. Tattoos are sort of like Taco Bell, you know? If you’re more worried about the repercussions of the Taco Bell, then you don’t deserve the Taco Bell. Tattoos are a serious gig in my opinion, and should be chosen carefully, both in placement and style. But never ever forget that they are for you, not your parents, or your boyfriend, and certainly not your employer.

That being said, this one friend of mine3 got ‘Thug Life” tattooed on the insides of his biceps in huge script, and then one time went to prison for something minor where he almost got his bread buttered by some giant dudes who were, in fact, legitimate thugs doing 10 to 15. My point being is that your employer isn’t the only opinion you need to be worried about.

Gay criminals are.



When are you going to have kids? I’m not getting younger and I want to be a great grandma.


Hi Grandma. Listen, the new Grand Theft Auto just came out, so there’s that. And I’ve just been buried in paperwork for the past week, I can’t even tell you. Good news, though! Last week I went on a date and I paid for it and we shared a glass of wine on my couch but then she left and she won’t answer my phone calls.

Much like catching a Pokemon, getting a girl to birth your children is much more complicated than a doctor has you believe4.


Columnist Trenton Keith is a writing and pop culture enthusiast. He's also a sarcastic humorist, a dismal satirist, and frequent user of non-sequiturs. You can read more answers to your silly questions here and here.


1 Sometimes my mealy-mouthed attempt at humor makes even myself nauseous.

2 The travesties abroad cannot be summed in pithy jokes by a half-brained idiot like myself. Regional conflicts are immeasurably difficult to understand, but what remains true is that no one should endure the pain they have. Take a moment to acknowledge, learn, and send your love.

3 It should be noted he is a skinny, white, male.

4 Women come and go, but Pokemon is forever.


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