Welcome to “Past Help,” our advice column for lovelorn and confused members of the HP nation! This month’s expert to solve all of your syrup-addled quandaries is Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck. Thanks to the botanist and evolutionist for taking time out of his busy schedule!
Dear Jean-Baptise Lamarck,
I’ve been living for three months now in a place I found on Craigslist. It’s a great location — safe neighborhood, walkable, easy commute — and the rent is affordable. I don’t *dis*like my roommate, buuut… he smells! How do I teach him to use soap without making my living situation untenable?!?!
Rooming in Raleigh
Mon dieu! You modern youths have such high standards of hygiene. Perhaps if we had known more sanitary conditions in my day, I would not have seen all three of my wives die. Perhaps you might suggest to your roommate that if he does not adhere to the scientifically observed standards of hygiene, he will die like an 18th-century Frenchwoman? Will this be of any use? If not, simply spend less time in the house. The out-of-doors is filled with observable wonders, and I have always preferred the company of plants to people.
Dear Jean-Baptiste Lamarck,
My fiancee is on #TeamBlueandBlack and I’m on #TeamWhiteandGold and we are THIS CLOSE to calling our wedding off HELP ME PLEASE!!!!!!!
Stressed in Sioux City
I believe you are discussing an interesting perceptual trick based on a poor-quality daguerreotype (yours are so remarkably lifelike nowadays!) in which a small percentage of subject brains seem to be color-correcting, while others observe true to the actual image. It is a fascinating little game, but I would urge you not to call off your wedding and instead volunteer to participate in my scientific study on the matter — if you can be trained to see blue and black, then I might test your eventual offspring, and if they too observe blue and black (in only twenty-five percent of respondents polled by most websites, a Mendelian recessive trait!), then I will have conclusively proven the inheritance of acquired characteristics! Why, it is the very definition of intergenerational epigenetic discoveries which are beginning to rehabilitate my long-tarnished reputation as an evolutionary theorist!
Dear Jean-Baptiste Lamarck,
How do I ask my boss for a raise? I’ve been at my job for three years without any salary increase, even though I’ve been repeatedly recognized for my contributions to the company. I read Sheryl Sandberg, but I’m not very good at “leaning in,” especially since my boss has only been there two months and might not know my work history. What do you recommend?
Hesitant in Houston
When in doubt, simply do what you must. As a titled aristocrat who was the royal botanist at the Jardin du Roi — the Garden of the King — during the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror, I was not likely to survive; but by changing the name to the “Garden of Plants” and having no political affiliation except to science, I not only survived the fall of the monarchy and the rise of Napoleon, but I was promoted! So I suppose my advice is simply to be married to your work, and kiss ass as necessary. It certainly worked for me! (At least until that Darwin asshole showed up.)