‘On The Couch’ With Jasminda News Of The Area Opinion by News Of The Area - Modern Media - October 22, 2020 Dear Jasminda, My daughter has taken up vaping to cope with the pressures of the HSC. I’m a bit worried about the health risks. Mrs Kate W. Ah, vaping. What happened to the good old days when you’d roll gum leaves, mixed herbs and a hint of cinnamon into a strip of newspaper and smoke it under the house, somehow managing to survive and not burn the place down? Vaping seems so …. I don’t know …. so vacuous, so plastic, so 2020. It is like a symbol for all that’s wrong with the world. Sucking on something that looks like a USB stick to inhale nicotine, diacetyl, volatile compounds and heavy metals, but thinking it’s okay because you can blow cute little mango-scented smoke rings is misguided. And that’s the problem. It’s the perfect metaphor really. But let’s turn to the HSC. There’s no denying it is a pressure cooker of Orwellian quotes, unrequited love, Shakespearean angst, sophisticated uses of language and dramatic monologues to name a few. And that’s just the bus ride to the English exam. I think everyone over a certain age can unequivocally state that once the HSC exams are over, they fade into insignificance. Life isn’t about rote learning literary techniques so you can prove your worth in a 45-minute time slot. No, instead it is a series of life lessons: how to turn two-minute noodles into Pad Thai, how to remove the dribbling man dressed in a kaftan off the red velvet lounge in your shared accommodation. How to mow the lawn with nothing but a pair of pinking shears. How to camouflage cigarette burns in the carpet on rental inspection day with nothing more than some Clairol hair dye, a glue stick and a Wettex. This is when real-life skills come into play – resilience, creativity, tenacity and well there you have it, at least with the cigarette burn example, a flimsy but nonetheless feasible argument for vapes. Carpe diem, Jasminda.