DR. WALLACE: I really want to thank you for the advice you gave to the young boy who was being called a sissy all the time and being beat up by guys at school. I'm 20 years old now and I wish your column had been in our local newspaper when I was still a teenager. When I was just 15 years old, the same thing you wrote about happened to me when I had to transfer schools because my family moved.
It was a terrible time in my parents' marriage, and there was so much turmoil that I couldn't bring up my problem, so I had no one to turn to. Guys at my new school taunted me daily because I was overweight and had a squeaky voice. They even called me a sissy in the classroom and the teacher never did anything about it. Then they started beating me up after school when I ignored their taunts. I never cried then, but when I got home I cried in the shower so my mom wouldn't know. She had her own problems, and I didn't want to make things worse.
My parents divorced a few months later, so it was lucky for me that my mom and I moved to an apartment in another town where my grandparents lived.
I'm in college now, but I still have the scars from that time. I've seen a psychiatrist, and I'm slowly making progress, but I still have a long way to go. I know now that you were right and I regret that I didn't stand up for myself then because I would have avoided tremendous mental anguish. I realize that defending myself would not have been instigating violence, but avoiding more of it.
If your young reader took your advice ("Punch the next guy in the nose when he calls you a sissy and threatens to beat you up"), you will have helped him more than he will ever know. Tell him that there's someone out there who had the same problem and would love to return to the past and punch a few guys in the nose. — K.T., Springfield, M.O.
K.T.: Thanks for sharing your experiences. I detest violence, but there comes a time when one must defend himself when all peaceful attempts fail!
DAD SAYS YES, MOM SAYS NO
DR. WALLACE: I'm 15 and have just started my babysitting career. Is it all right for the husband to drive me home when it is rather late? My dad says yes, my mom says no. Please settle the debate. — Amy, Lodi, Ca.
AMY: I agree with Mom. Even though instances of harassment or assault are exceedingly rare under such circumstances, it's just not worth taking the risk. The mother should drive you home, but if that's not possible, one of your own parents should be your chauffeur.
TELL ROMEO THANKS, BUT NO THANKS
DR. WALLACE: I met a really nice guy at a party. We had a lot in common and really hit it off. When he called and asked me out, I said yes. We went to a movie, but I thought he acted just a little strange. After the movie he took me straight home (no snack), but he did kiss me goodnight and said he'd call me again. I kind of thought he might not want to be seen with me or he was hiding something.
The next day at school I found out that he had a steady girlfriend, but she was out of town that weekend. This really upset me and I felt like calling this girl and telling her that her boyfriend was stepping out on her, but my best friend told me I'd just be wasting my time and that she would probably find out anyway. She also told me that a guy who did that was no big catch anyway. What do you think? — Nameless, Naperville, Ill.
NAMELESS: Take your friend's advice and just erase this guy from your mind. The guy's girlfriend did nothing to you, so bringing her into it is not cool. Making a "poison" phone call certainly won't make you feel better. It will just prolong the agony. If he calls you again, tell him thanks, but no thanks. Nothing more.
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.