DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm a 40-year-old man, and I do not know how to swim. I love going to the beach, and I go to the aquatic center in my neighborhood regularly just to wade in the water. I know swimming is a great form of exercise, and I want to learn how to swim, but I am afraid of drowning. How can I overcome that fear? -- Aquaphobic, Newark, N.J.
DEAR AQUAPHOBIC: First, I want you to know that you are not alone. There are plenty of men and women your age who cannot swim. There are also plenty of people your age who learn how to swim. It is possible to overcome your fear.
The best way to learn to swim is to take a class. Do your research and find a Red Cross-certified swim teacher. There are courses at the YMCA and at local community centers that have pools -- and these are usually affordable. Also, some gyms with pools offer swimming instruction.
With the help of a licensed swimming instructor, you can gain the benefit, safety and freedom of being a capable swimmer. It will take time.
Go for it!
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am having a tough time dating. I think men are scared to date me because I am a female detective in the sex-crimes department of a major police department in the United States.
I recently had a date with a wonderful man, and we had a great time enjoying each other's company. During the date, the gentleman asked me what I do for a living. I did not answer him, as I was afraid he would run away like the rest of the men I've tried to date in times past.
How do I explain my occupation to this gentleman without him running away? -- Police Officer, Memphis, Tenn.
DEAR POLICE OFFICER: Ease into the conversation. Start by saying you work for the city. Change the subject and get him to talk about himself. Usually people are so consumed by telling their own stories that a whole date can go by without doubling back to your story.
Focus your conversations on fun. What do you enjoy in life? What are your extracurricular activities? What makes you happy? Tell him about things that make you smile, and find out things about him.
Next, tell him that you are a police officer. You can talk about your training, what you enjoyed about the educational process and other women in the field. Be vague about the specifics of your particular job. You can even go so far as to say that you would rather not talk about it in detail: It's a job. You enjoy it, and you love serving your city. But you also love being away from work and enjoying time with friends.
After you spend enough time together to determine that you like each other, then you can reveal more details. If he has truly grown to like you, it shouldn't matter.