*I'm Not Popular, but I'm Not a Geek
DR. WALLACE: A so-called "nerd" has asked me to our winter formal at school. I really want to go, but I'm not so sure I want to be seen going with a nerd. If some other guy would ask me, I'd go with him, but I'm not sure anyone will ask me. That's because most of the popular cute guys are dating popular cute girls. I'm not popular, but I'm definitely not a geek, either. What should I do? -- Nameless, Minneapolis, Minn.
NAMELESS: Stop using labels -- "nerds," "popular," "geeks" -- and start judging people by their character. You would like to attend the winter formal. A boy has asked you to go with him. My advice is, tell him yes! And when you go, don't slink in the corner, embarrassed to be seen with this guy. Doing so would ruin the evening, and be degrading, for him as well as for you.
Go to this special dance with the full intention of having a great time and enjoying your date's companionship. (This is also exactly what he is expecting for this date.) If you do this, you may learn something about who this boy really is, and my guess is that you'll be pleasantly surprised.
*You Are Not a Cool Dude
DR. WALLACE: I wore a sweatshirt to school, and the assistant principal told me to take it off because it had "Enjoy Safe Sex" printed on the front of it. I told him that he didn't have the right to make me take the sweatshirt off, and he then called my mother and told her to come to school and take me home because I was suspended for three days.
My mom and I think the assistant principal overreacted. How would you have handled this case if you had been the assistant principal? -- Mike, Oakland, Calif.
MIKE: I would have suspended you for three days. It was a stupid thing for you to do. I believe you were only looking to attract attention as a "cool dude."
Your mother needs to take a parenting class that includes instruction on proper school attire.
*Plan to Attend College
DR. WALLACE: I'm 16, and my goal is to be an actor. I've got the looks and the body and all the other necessary things that could get me noticed. My concern is that I live in a relatively small town far from the bright lights of New York or Hollywood. This is going to make it hard for me to get noticed. Is there any place I could write where I could be given information on becoming an actor? -- Margo, Glasgow, Ky.
MARGO: Maybe there was a time when actors were given roles as a result of their looks, but thank goodness, those days are gone forever. What matters are "all the other necessary things," otherwise known as "talent."
The best chance you have to reach your goal is to become part of every dramatic presentation you can at your school, church, or community playhouse. Take as many speech, drama, and English classes as possible at school, and do your best in all your classes.
It takes a lot of hard work to develop your native talent as an actor. Plan to attend college. The drama departments at colleges and universities provide superb training. Many of today's stars got their big break performing at the college level.
Dr. Robert Wallace's column, "'Tween 12 & 20," can be found at creators.com.