DR. WALLACE: Last year, our health teacher told our class that cigarettes are a gateway drug to hard drug addiction.
I totally disagreed and stayed late to speak with him after the class. I told him that both of my sisters, our parents and I all either smoked regularly or had smoked regularly, and to my knowledge, none of us has "advanced" to hard drugs.
I was just about to make a bigger deal about this issue, but the pandemic hit, and we don't go to school in person anymore, and I'm done that that particular class now anyway. But it still bothers me when I think about it. Why would a teacher tell lies like this to impressionable students in a public school class? Was he trying to scare all of us into nonsmoking? If so, it did not work in my case. I'm almost 18 now, and I've been smoking for almost a year-and-a-half. — Enjoying Smoking Only, via email
ENJOYING SMOKING ONLY: I don't believe your teacher was intentionally lying. Either he didn't explain the smoking-drug connection fully or you didn't accept or absorb what he said on this topic. Of course, not all cigarette smokers become illegal drug users, but statistics show us that cigarette smokers, as a group, have a higher percentage of illegal drug use than do nonsmokers. It could be that this connection was not clearly delineated or that you took the connection to mean every smoker takes on harder drugs at some point. Anyhow, that is absolutely not true, just as you correctly pointed out to me.
Smoking is a dangerous, expensive and very addictive habit. Even if you never take an illegal drug, you are doing your body a gross injustice by inhaling cigarette smoke. Do yourself a big favor, and make plans to quit smoking. Invite your parents and sister to join you. When you have reached your goal to quit smoking, plan a celebration of some sort that everyone will enjoy. You can fund it with all the money your family saved by not smoking.
BLIND DATES ARE WORTHWHILE
DR. WALLACE: Do you believe in blind dates? Are they realistic or just a huge waste of time? My cousin wants me to go out with his girlfriend's friend, but I won't have a chance to meet her beforehand. I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to go out with her.
If I knew more about her and what she likes, and if I knew what she looked like, I could make a decision in less than five minutes. But now I'm confused and unsure if I should do this or just write it off as some stupid old custom that people used to do decades ago. I kind of feel weird even considering doing this since I've never done it before. I've never heard even one of my friends admit that they've done it, much less enjoyed the experience. — Pretty Doubtful, via email
PRETTY DOUBTFUL: Yes, I do believe blind dates are worthwhile, and when approached properly, they can actually turn into a win-win situation for everyone involved. Why? Because I believe in taking mild social risks to expand your circle of contacts and acquaintances — and, in your case, with the added bonus of doing something safe that you've never done or considered doing before.
So, I encourage you to go out with your cousin's girlfriend's friend and plan to have lots of fun. Remember there is no pressure. You're both going to be coming into the date nervous and a bit apprehensive. If, by chance, the two of you hit it off, then your win-win occurs via that connection. But if there is no chemistry, the two of you can use the time to talk about those who set you up and who else you each know. The two of you will most likely part as new friends, and you can perhaps help each other via other new introductions over time. The fact that you are both "looking" gives you something in common right off the bat, so that should be valuable to each of you.
Finally, no matter what happens, when the date is over, I believe you will be proud of yourself for taking a chance, following through and taking the time to meet another person who you can likely call a friend going forward. Remember, life is a series of connections and introductions. Whenever you have an opportunity to meet someone (via a trusted introduction) in your social life or in business, you should do so.
Finally, if you elect to bypass this opportunity, you'll never know what you missed.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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