DEAR HARRIETTE: My air-conditioning unit has not been functioning in my apartment in this summer heat. “Thomas,” my landlord, has been completely useless and ignores my complaints. I don’t have the cash to threaten him with a lawsuit, but I want to stand up for myself. I live in an area where it reaches 90 degrees during the day! I find myself staying late at work just because I dread coming home to that suffocating heat. How can I get Thomas to take action? I don’t know any of his other renters to ask for advice on how to deal with him. -- Heatwave, Atlanta
DEAR HEATWAVE: Check your lease to see if it says explicitly that your apartment comes complete with an air-conditioning unit. If it is written there, you have the legal right to have your landlord provide a working air conditioner. Next, let your landlord know that you will either withhold your rent -- in escrow -- until he repairs or replaces your air conditioner, or you will have it repaired or replaced and take the cost out of your rent. Either option is fair if your lease proves that he should be providing this for you. Put your suggestions in writing. Follow up with a text and a call. If you still get no response, collect your documentation so that you can prove that you made an effort, and go get some air conditioning!
DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage son has decided to lose his baby weight by exercising. I love this initiative; however, it makes my home smell foul. “Victor” has body odor, and I don’t think wearing deodorant crosses his mind. I have hinted that he needs to start using deodorant and have even offered to buy it for him, but Vick just laughs me off. Normally I wouldn’t mind, but I was mortified when a friend came over and said I “clearly have sons.” How do I get Vick to start using antiperspirant or deodorant? I don’t want to scare him away from exercising. -- No B.O., Seattle
DEAR NO B.O.: You need to talk to your son about hygiene and teach him how to care for his body. This is not to dissuade him from exercising. It is also important for him to know about cleanliness and body odor. Tell him directly about his odor and the need to bathe with appropriate soap and use deodorant. Don’t give him an option on this. You can also relegate exercise to a certain part of the house that is well-ventilated or that you can make ventilated. You can use air fresheners to help combat the smell and vacuum often. Open the windows, too, to allow the pungent air to leave the house and clean air to flow in.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)