Mirthology column, 1st run Wednesday 14 March 1990 in the Arkansas Democrat
By Ben S. Pollock
Copyright 1990 Ben S. Pollock
MIRTHOLOGIST’S NOTE: In the interest of broadening the appeal of this publication, I am turning over this space for a tryout column by psychologist Seymour Sock, Ph.D.
Sock, one of my best-educated characters, knows so much about child development that he wants to share it with everybody instead of one client at a time. If this audition passes muster, the editors may put him on the payroll.
I hereby present Dr. Seymour Sock. Welcome to the keyboard, Sy. Don’t forget my advice.
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Thanks. Hello, everybody. Ben’s suggestion, by the way, was to use everyday words and not to be too long about it.
In civic club presentations, I’ve learned to always open with a joke. I’m sure that works just as well in the writing game.
My topic is drug abuse. Where do I get my expertise?
I researched societal pressure for my doctorate. My thesis — “Effectatious Application of Enforced Structure on the American Model of the Smallest-Frame Learning Reception Environment,” or Classroom Discipline — has held up over the years because succeeding studies also used the children of professors as subjects.
I hope that sentence wasn’t too long.
I know a lot from personal experience as well, coming as I do from a large family who all grew up to by psychologists. No, in response to that question from the back, I am not Joyce’s brother. Ha ha.
That was the anecdote. This isn’t like lecturing at all. How can I wait for the peals of laughter to die down when there aren’t any? Actually, I never have to pause during my speeches, either.
For my first column I thought I’d try a book review. I’m quite familiar with the paperback “Just Say No, Thank You.” It is ethical to review your own book, isn’t it?
Early reviews have suggested the purpose of my book’s large print was to increase the number of pages and thus the price. Actually, the type size was to help parents of all backgrounds, if you know what I mean.
My only criticism is that I should have used more makeup for my back-cover photo.
The title elaborates on the 1980s slogan. My research is that to “Just Say No” to illegal drugs isn’t quite enough.
It is insufficient for South American peasants, who would starve saying no to a steady cash crop; for the addict who needs professional help to say no to his fix; for the casual user who thinks “Just Say Maybe This Once” harmless; and for thousands of middlemen and middlewomen — distributors and marketing reps — whose Saying No would collapse the economies of too many states.
Ben, was that too long a sentence?
The book’s first few chapters elaborate on this chain of U.S. capitalism, then drop it suddenly for the major theme. That may be poor thematically, but without it, I’d have a pamphlet, which would be ineligible for the best-seller list.
The book’s first point, on Page 103, is children of the 1990s must be courteous even when dealing with such evil. Adults find etiquette to be society’s lubricant for getting ahead. Your child’s tempter isn’t all that different from the jerks you have to deal with at work, right?
Children should never forget their “Pleases” and “You’re welcomes” and how to select the proper spoon. Just Say No, Thank You.
The second point is you must be taught the difference between drugs and medicine without resorting to exaggeration: Children eventually will see through such scare tactics.
Parents should, however, warn of the humiliation, prison, disease, death and bankruptcy that drug abuse brings.
All of us should be role models, and that means admitting alcohol is but another drug easily misused. Not only should our homes be free of booze, but adults should abstain from other enjoyable chemicals, such as tobacco, caffeine and garlic.
The book’s final advice is how to use diversion. The best tactic is the anti-drug talent show. Theater has three advantages: Children will be too busy rehearsing to stray and the adults who run the concerts keep a close eye on participants. The last is that the actors always get media attention. They will woodenly tell TV reporters how easy it is to walk away from a dealer.
Instead of learning to “Just Say No, Thank You,” unfortunately, the school assembly simply may envy the stars’ getting excused from weeks of class. My solution: more variety shows. Involve all students in fighting drugs. The heck with education.
This critic recommends that everyone buy this book.
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NOTE: Dear Sy, No, thank you.