Take an inventory of bad habits

This week, Margaret is sharing a classic column.

I became aware of binge drinking from seeing it on CNN night after night. Binge drinking is drinking with the goal of purposefully getting drunk. There are millions of young people doing this. It’s rampant in the colleges and many under-age drinkers are doing the same.

When I went to college in ’43, ’44 and ’45, there were only 11 males in the school. Everyone who was fit was in the war. I had never thought that the absence of guys was a blessing, but now I do. College was pretty sane. I was a big sister on Friday nights. I used to take my little sisters to the College Inn on Roberts Road. They always had a good band and we danced with the local boys. It was fun and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Well, I was called into Miss Cranston’s office to be scolded for taking the girls to the College Inn. According to Miss Cranston, this was not a proper thing to do. I told her my brothers allowed me to go there and they never would have permitted it if it was dangerous or could lead to trouble. Besides, we always went together and came home together. No one got drunk. We went there to dance, not get drunk. I wanted a second opinion, so the next week we took our gym teacher with us and her check it out. She said it was just fine and we continued to go. Miss Cranston was a fuddy-duddy old maid.

I decided to discuss binge drinking with some college kids. They confirmed that they drank to get drunk about twice a month. They said it was only on beer. They didn’t have hangovers. I asked them how they could afford it and they said as long as you have house parties and don’t go to the bars, it’s not too expensive and usually everybody kicks in a few dollars.

They asked me if I had ever gotten drunk. No, I’m happy to say it tasted lousy to me and I didn’t need it to have a good time. To tell you the truth, I didn’t want the booze to take credit for my having a good time.

I discussed the drug scene with them and that didn’t seem to be a problem. Some thought the sale of marijuana should be legal. The tax on it could be used to bring down the national debt or for medical research.

I told them the state of California had passed a law legalizing the sale of marijuana and the mayor of San Francisco closed it down because greedy doctors and pharmacists had made it get out of control. They were surprised, but added that they didn’t think stronger drugs should be easily obtained.

Then one of the boys brought up the smoking habit. He couldn’t believe the price of a pack of cigarettes! His friend smokes three packs a week. He thought that was a bad habit that should be given up. This was easy for him to say because he doesn’t smoke.

How is it we can always show good, common sense about other people’s bad habits, but not our own? Be honest. Take inventory with your family and friends and identify the bad habits you have that you can’t afford. When I say you can’t afford them, I’m not talking about money. So many of these bad habits are bad for your health. You can get deathly sick or you can drive while you’re impaired and hurt yourself or someone else.

I’ve brought up this topic because we can make a difference in lives and communities if we take inventory and act positively with measures to cure these bad habits. Sometimes just being a good friend and keeping them occupied doing other things can make all the difference in the world. Show someone you care, or don’t you?