Editor's Note: Hundreds of Ann Landers' loyal readers have requested that newspapers continue to publish her columns. These letters originally appeared in 1999.
Dear Ann Landers: I am concerned about the advice you gave "Befuddled," the teenager who was afraid her girlfriend, "Lottie," might be a lesbian because she slept in the nude when they shared a bed. You told her to continue the friendship but not to accept any more invitations to sleep over. Your response left me with a sinking feeling. When friends are uneasy about something like this, it is not OK to ignore it. Also, a friendship that is not based on trust can be hollow at best.
As a woman who works with lesbian and gay young people, I find it highly unlikely that Lottie is a lesbian. If such were the case, she would not have risked a negative reaction from her friend. Rejection from those they care about is one of the principal concerns of gay youth. All teenagers, gay and straight, should be encouraged to be honest with their peers and not engage in deception.
If the writer has worries and does not deal with them directly, the friendship will suffer. Please let her know that being gay is not the issue. The real issue is empowering young people to be forthright and vocal with each other about situations that make them uncomfortable. Staying silent accomplishes nothing and leaves them frustrated and confused. — C.M. in the Southwest
Dear C.M.: I had several complaints about my response to that letter and am inclined to think my answer was a dog. Your last sentence is a far better response. Thanks for cleaning up after me.
Dear Ann Landers: My 13-year-old son has a problem at school. He says most of the boys in his eighth-grade class smoke pot and drink alcohol. My son does not want to be around those boys, which is good, but consequently, he has few friends.
I am close to the mothers of two of the boys my son is avoiding. He is positive they smoke pot, and I believe him. The parents of these boys caught them drinking just the other night, so their behavior is no surprise. Here's my question: Should I warn their mothers about the pot smoking and risk having my son accused of snitching and losing two friends of my own, or should I stay out of it? — St. Louis Predicament
Dear St. Louis: Say nothing to the parents about your suspicions. Since you are close to the mothers and see them socially, you can bring up the subject in a general way. Tell them you've heard there's a lot of pot smoking at school, and ask if their children have been affected. You should also discuss the issue with the school authorities (without naming names) and find out if there are any programs in place to help curb this destructive behavior.
Dear Ann Landers: This is about the overweight woman who was flying to California. She may not need to pay for an extra seat if she flies during non-busy hours. If she had a vacant seat next to her and an arm rest that lifts up, it would be an ideal set-up. An aisle seat is usually best, and many have arm rests that also lift up.
Some larger people prefer the bulkhead seat for the extra room, but the food trays can be uncomfortable. Also, the woman should try to board first so she doesn't get in anybody else's way. And please tell her she can ask the flight attendant for a seat-belt extender. Many travelers aren't even aware that there are such things.
Just wanted to pass along a few additional suggestions, Ann. — Been There in New Hampshire
Dear New Hampshire: Thank you for giving my overweight readers some tips on how to avoid possible problems and fly in comfort. You have also helped the passengers seated next to them.
An alcohol problem? How can you help yourself or someone you love? "Alcoholism: How To Recognize It, How To Deal With It, How To Conquer It" will give you the answers. To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.