When smart people do stupid things

I seem to be surrounded by loved ones who, despite college degrees and a reasonable ability to dress themselves each morning, are doing the most godawful f-ing stupid things.

First, I just had a visit from my friend Alan, who being English is about as bone-white as you can possibly imagine. I mean, had he taken off his shirt outside on a cloudy day, you would have thought the sun came out.

He was here for 10 days and made a consistent and concerted effort to get as many rays as sun as possible. It may have been a plot to steal them for the English, who have so little. That I can't say.

But what I can say is he refused to wear any kind of sun protection. "I get red and then I turn brown" he said more than once, after I did everything but spray him when he wasn't looking.

And yes, he turned red. Then he turned redder. Then he peeled. And then he sort of turned pinkish brown. Then we went to the beach on Saturday and he turned red again.


Next, I have two longtime close near and dear ones — whose names will go unmentioned because they might actually read this but You Know Who You Are — who are smoking.


It started out small for one of them, just a "special" smoke on a "special occasion." There were more "special occasions" after that, but it seemed to tone down. (Bear in mind this is a decades-long smoker who valiantly quit some years back and has been A+ in the smoke-free ratings since.) Now I've heard that she had another one on another "special" occasion. As for the other N&D one, I don't know his schedule regularly enough to know if he's bumming one here and there, but I do know he had one recently.

Really? Seriously, folks?

So, I don't want to be the Big Nag here. I'm not going to start wagging my finger. They're grown-ups, and as I mentioned earlier, they seem to be able to drive cars and take care of small children and otherwise behave in a sane and orderly manner.

What I'm wondering is: Just what do you do when you have people close to you who are doing really, really stupid things? How much of it has to be stepping back and letting them do it to themselves, and how much of it should be the equivalent of a disapproving rabbit?

I know we're not talking about drugs (well, not hard drugs). I know it's not about them being in immediate physical danger (long-term, however, is another story). And this isn't meant to be a "don't smoke" screed, though, seriously — don't f-ing smoke. Really. Good Lord.

What are the recommendations out there? And how do you do it right?


  1. snoringKatZ on 5/31/09 at 7:09 pm

    If you’d like, I can send some photos from my melanoma surgery you can give to your friend.

    I think you just can’t stop people from being stupid until they’re good and ready to stop on their own.  I know that’s how it works for me.  You can make some rules so their stupid doesn’t affect you – like you don’t get to smoke around me or in my house.

    Other than that, I think we’re all mostly stuck with watching people we care about do stupid stuff.

  2. Armchair News on 5/31/09 at 7:42 pm

    Yeah, I know the reality but I just kind of needed to vent. The melanoma surgery photos might be a bit too much tough love, but I do appreciate the offer!