Everything you need to know

Dear Joe,

I love being a chemistry major because of the wealth of information it offers about our physical world. Unfortunately, whenever I head back to my rural hometown, no one wants to listen to me ramble on about orbitals. It’s no fair that I have to listen to hours of Zac Efron commentary, but my meaningful thoughts are put aside. How do I make others interested in what I do?

—Reactionary in Resnik

Dear Reactionary,

It always helps to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Think of yourself as a Zac Efron major, specializing in High School Musical analysis with applications to appearances on Summerland.

You know everything Efron, from his favorite food — waffles — to his biggest TV guilty pleasure — Survivor. You read Seventeen to gain pertinent information on recent Efron developments and have even published several scholarly articles — blog posts — about his cohabitation with Disney.

Unfortunately, when you come home, all people want to talk about is quantum field theory and the existence of ethics in a post-modernist society.

What a shame, too, because you have posters of Efron which would make even an icicle melt. I hope you understand my message.

When you go home, deal with it. We’re not all interested in chemistry.

Get on the Efron right track,


Dear Joe,

I have a good friend who smells awful. Sometimes we’ll be in a conversation, and he’ll lift his arms: I almost collapse from the reek. How do I tell him about this, or how do I at least learn to ignore it?

—Smelly in Scobell

Dear Smelly,

You can’t let your good friend go on in this world without telling him about his problem. First off, you should know that he probably can’t smell the odor himself. It’s hard to detect your own scent. Second, know that you aren’t the only one who is offended. Your friend’s waft of misery is costing him friendships, dates, and jobs. Somebody has to break the bad news. It may as well be you.

It’s natural if you’re nervous about telling the truth. That’s why I have an ingenious plan. Fight fire with fire, Smelly. If you really want to get your message across, skip hygiene for a few days.

When your friend (hopefully) calls you out on it, bring it back to him. That way, it’ll be a problem you can tackle together. Note that this kind of solution generally doesn’t work with other problems, like drugs and World of Warcraft.

If that method of attack doesn’t work, then I guess you’re out of luck. Maybe then it would be time to find more pleasant-smelling friends, like clove-smoking creative writing majors or Glade plug-ins.

Just plug it in, plug it in,