DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I'm going to bump into my ex-wife for the first time in 24 years at a New Year's Eve dance/party in our small town. I'm going to be home visiting with my parents. I'm divorced now and so is she. We got married in our teens, and soon split. But, I realize now, we were more suited to each other than I was to my second wife, or she to her husband who was a jock. She is very artistic. We only broke up because we were immature kids and didn't want to be married so young. I went away to school in The States and she went the other way, to Alberta. Am I stupid to hope we get back together? -- Lonely Guy, Winnipeg
Dear Lonely: Don't go to that dance with any kind of expectation. One or both of you, might not be the least bit interested. Just go with a feeling of openness and curiosity and a desire to catch up on each others' lives -- and wish each other well in the new year. Whatever you do, don't go there with a desperate or lonely air about you and hang onto the woman all night. You're there to see an old friend, among others, and see what happens, if anything.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I absolutely adore this older man at school, and he likes me too. I always catch him looking at me, and smiling after he's been caught. I'm a very attractive young woman, but men my age irritate me. I don't know how to approach him about going out for a date. I don't expect him to take charge. I can also be the one who asks first. His English is not that good, and I love his accent. What should I say? Normally I know exactly what to do, but around him, I get all flustered and he can tell. Please help me?! I never get like this! -- Totally Flustered, Winnipeg
Dear Flustered: Just do it! If you fall on your face, he'll think it's cute and help you out. If two people want the same thing -- to get together -- it doesn't matter how the invitation for a date gets said. This man, who already likes you, will enjoy hearing anything that comes out of your mouth. But, do you know for sure if he's free? Start by asking him that at school. If he's single and has no lady friend at the moment, ask him to do something with you where you have lots of opportunity to look at things around you and make comments -- like coffee and dessert at The Forks.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My close friend of eight years lost his brother this summer. The first little bit I could see he was upset and I was there for him all summer. Now he's been smoking weed and drinking and he's only 13. I know he does this because one day he "accidentally" brought his favourite lighter and his container he holds his weed in. I know that he's smoked up with people in our grade and I don't know if I should intervene to help get him off that path or just let it run its course. -- Covered in Smoke, Outside Winnipeg
Dear Covered: As his friend, you'll be sorry if you don't try to get him off this path, so give it a whirl realizing he might reject your help. If you see he isn't reacting well to your interference, back off. Talk to a trusted teacher or guidance counsellor at school who could bring him in on any excuse -- and end up talking about his loss and his grief -- and his methods of coping. He may talk about numbing himself (with weed) but not for a long while, until he builds up trust. Or, he may never say anything, but end up feeling happier, and not need drugs anymore. Since you know he needs help, you are right to at least try.