Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Please remind parents and teenagers that it is "cool" to wear a helmet when riding bikes and skateboards. A child in our town died recently after suffering a head injury, and we have just received word that the son of a close friend (age 23) has started having seizures because of a head injury he suffered as a teen after falling from a skateboard.

I had my grandson decorate his helmet. All his friends thought it looked great, and that made it "cool" to wear it. With summer here and kids outside, wearing a helmet cannot be stressed enough. -- VIGILANT GRANDMA OUT WEST

DEAR GRANDMA: You are not only a vigilant grandma, but also a clever one. Falls are common among bike riders, skateboarders, Rollerbladers, and those who drive and ride all-terrain vehicles. According to the Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery Network, an estimated 7 million Americans seek medical care every year for injuries sustained during sports or recreation-related activities, an estimated 4.3 million of whom are treated in emergency rooms. The highest rates of sports- and recreation-related injuries are among adolescents 10 to 14 years of age.

When a child's head hits cement, wood or hard-packed dirt, the result can be a traumatic injury that leads to concussion, permanent brain injury or even death. That is why children who participate in sports should be strongly encouraged to wear protective headgear at all times.

DEAR ABBY: Some friends who live out of state just left, after inviting themselves to stay at our home while they attended to family business. We live in a town with many hotels. We enjoy their company, but when we visited them last year, we stayed at their bed and breakfast (at their invitation) and were charged $175 a night even though there were empty rooms at their inn.

My wife says I should shut up, but I feel used. Your thoughts? -- MIFFED IN MICHIGAN

DEAR MIFFED: Your feelings are accurate. You welcomed this couple as friends; they welcomed you as paying guests. Now that you know this about them, treat them accordingly. The next time they invite themselves to your home, tell them you'd love to visit with them while they're in town and refer them to a hotel.

P.S. If this has happened more than once, it could only be because you allowed it.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 42-year-old mother of three, married to my husband for 15 years. I am active in my church and community and live a good, decent life.

My 20th college reunion is coming up in September. I lived a wild life in college, drank too much and was promiscuous. I would like to attend the reunion with my husband, who is also an alumnus. While I will love seeing old friends, I feel apprehensive because I will be among some people I once had relations with.

Abby, I am not the same person I was back then. Part of me wants to go to the reunion to show that I have changed. My husband is aware of my past and accepts it. Should I go? -- DIFFERENT NOW IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR DIFFERENT NOW: Go! I'm sure you won't be the only person there who was "wild" when you were younger. Show up, have a good time, and let bygones be bygones.

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)