DR. WALLACE: I'm 18 and plan to join the military after I graduate from high school in June. I've never taken drugs of any kind, but when I was 15, some of my friends and I were involved in sniffing aerosol spray one day just briefly before we realized how stupid (and perhaps dangerous) it was.
Does this mean that I have taken drugs? Sniffing one time for five seconds was my only sin. Please answer my question. It is very important to me! — Tormented by My Mistake, Columbus, Ohio
TORMENTED: Sniffing aerosol spray is a dangerous habit, but you would not be considered to be an abuser of drugs. You were wise to eliminate your sniffing immediately after that one time three years ago. Forgive yourself for your mistake and be proud that you corrected it so quickly and permanently. I wish you all the best in your military career.
I NEARLY DROPPED THE PHONE
DR. WALLACE: I'm a 17-year-old guy, and I'm really attracted to a certain young lady my age. I met her at a downtown mall, and she seemed interested in me. I asked her for her telephone number, and she gave it to me and asked me to call her sometime. Well, yesterday, I finally got the courage to ask her for a date. She said that she would love to, but that she was going steady with a guy she was in love with.
I was so shocked I nearly dropped the phone. I then asked her why she gave me her phone number and asked me to call her, and she said that I seemed like a friendly guy and she wanted for us to be "just friends." I hung up a confused guy. What should I do? I don't want to be just friends with her, I want to take her out. What should I do? — Crestfallen and Confused, via email
CRESTFALLEN: Call her again, and this time give her your telephone number and ask her to please call you at a point in the future if she's no longer going steady. Wish her well with her current relationship but let her know you're interested, should things ever change. If she calls you someday, you might get that first date with her — but don't sit around and wait for her to call. There are a lot of charming girls in your local area besides her, so in the meantime, see if you can dip back into your newfound courage to ask a suitable one or two other girls your age out on a date.
WEAR A SMILE AND BE QUITE POLITE
DR. WALLACE: I'm embarrassed to tell you this, but I'm a 19-year-old guy and have never been on a date. I don't know if it's my attitude or that I'm afraid to be turned down by a girl. It really hurts to constantly go to a movie alone and to look at Valentine's Day cards but never give or get one. I guess what I am asking is how do I approach a female without her telling me to get lost? — Nervous Nelson in New England
NERVOUS NELSON: First, you must understand that it is all right to be turned down for a date. Every guy at one time or another has been told, "Thanks, but no thanks." But those who keep asking people out earnestly eventually hear the wonderful words, "Thanks for asking; I'd love to go out with you." The key is that you've got to ask.
I'm positive there are some females in the New England area that would be thrilled to have your company for an afternoon or evening. Some of them might even be sitting at home right now and would enjoy hearing from someone like you to ask them out.
When approaching a girl for a possible date, wear a smile, be very polite and sincere. Take your time in early conversations, focusing first on small talk and common interests. If things go well, you can always talk about deeper subjects as you get to know each other better. Finally, be yourself, because that is who you are going to end up being anyhow! Your best version of yourself (polite, respectful, earnest, well-groomed and interesting) is my suggestion on how to present yourself.
Major League baseball hero Babe Ruth struck out over 1,300 times during his career, but he is not remembered for those "at-bats." He's remembered for being baseball's home-run champion of his era. My advice is to get yourself some quality opportunities ("at-bats") to ask girls out in your area for a date. You may strike out a few times, but you will remember your successes much more happily than your strikeouts. Good luck!
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.