DR. WALLACE: This big, ugly guy keeps telling me that one day after school, he is going to rearrange my face because I look like a "pretty boy."
I'm not tall, but I'm not a weakling. I've had boxing lessons at the local Catholic Youth Organization gym, and I can take care of myself physically.
My dad wants me to meet him somewhere after school and punish him using my boxing skills, but my mother thinks I should just ignore him.
That's why I am contacting you. What do you suggest I do? — Anonymous, Brooklyn, New York
ANONYMOUS: Ignore him, but if he does someday start something with you, defend yourself and seek to end the physicality as quickly as possible. However, it would be wise to first go directly to your school administration and explain the situation in advance. Explain that you do not seek or condone violence but you have been threatened and are able to defend yourself when necessary.
Your "large" classmate may end up receiving a preemptive visit from one of your school administrators. This will hopefully nip the situation in the bud.
FOCUS ON YOURSELF
DR. WALLACE: I am a very shy teenage guy, so my female cousin has fixed me up on a blind date with one of her girlfriends the first weekend of summer once our school year ends. This date is set for the first weekend of June, so it's not too far away, and I'm getting very nervous. I'm not sure I can go through with it. I spend a lot of my free time thinking — and probably overthinking — about this upcoming blind date. Do you think I should go on it? Even though I am shy, I don't want to be lonely, so this keeps me interested despite my nervousness.
One of my best guy friends keeps teasing me as well: He says I'm more nervous about my blind date than most girls are when they are similarly set up. I wish I could just turn my mind off and turn it back on about three days before this big date arrives. What can I do for the next several weeks to ease my worried mind? — Jittery Jerry, Passaic, New Jersey
JITTERY JERRY: I have two suggestions for you, the first of which is to work a little on your shyness. Say "hello" to a few strangers each day from now until June. You can do this at school, the mall or wherever you encounter others. Make eye contact, smile slightly, say hello and keep moving. You'll be pleasantly surprised that roughly 90% of strangers will say hello and smile back at you. This exercise will help your confidence going into your date.
Second, whenever you drift into thinking nervously about your upcoming date, redirect your focus onto yourself and think instead about all your best qualities. Really think deeply about what makes you a unique and great person. Then think how good it's going to be for you to show a date these qualities of yours firsthand.
Remember, there may likely be a young lady across town who is nervous, too! This could be your chance to be the calming leader between the two of you. Good luck, and let us know how your blind date goes.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.