Dr. Wallace: Zachary was my date for the junior-senior prom. He is very nice, very cute and very shy, so I was surprised when he asked me to the most important school activity of the year. I had a wonderful time, but it was like pulling teeth to get him to hold a conversation. Most of the evening I asked him questions and he would give me one-word answers like "yes," "no" or "sometimes."
This summer, we didn't see each other much because I was visiting my grandmother in Cleveland for a month. But my sister is getting married in three weeks, and I'm going to invite him to the wedding. I'm positive he will say yes because he has told my best friend he really likes me and is working up the courage to ask me out again.
What can I do to get him to hold a conversation? He is a big sports fan. – P.J., Orlando, Fla.
P.J.: Asking shy people questions is a good way to get them to open up, but don't ask questions that can be answered with a single word. Instead of asking, "Do you like pizza?" say, "Pizza and French fries are two of my favorite foods. What are your favorite foods?" Or instead of saying, "Do you like sports?" say, "Who is your favorite baseball team?" and then "How did they do this summer?" His answers might be short and to the point, but they won't be just "yes" or "no."
The idea is to get him to relax and start trusting you and feeling comfortable telling you what's on his mind. When the conversation door has opened a little bit, follow up with questions that require more detailed answers. Be sure to listen to him and respond to what he says with questions and comments demonstrating that you've heard him.
Uncommunicative people often simply do not believe anyone else will care what they have to say. Your job is to show him how interested you are in his ideas, opinions and feelings. Once he gets comfortable with the idea of sharing his thoughts, he'll probably have a great deal to say. Then you will contact me again asking what you can do to keep him quiet!
Dr. Wallace: I'm a Coke addict (the soda pop kind). I drink up to a six-pack of Cokes daily. Lately I have been starting to have complexion problems.
My grandfather thinks the soda is causing the problem. Is this possible? If it is, I'll quit drinking soda because I'm scared to death of having a face full of pimples. I'm 16 years old. – Nameless, Goshen, Ind.
Nameless: Soft drinks provide empty calories and little else, so you should keep your intake limited. Fruit juices, low-fat or non-fat milk, and plain old reliable water would be better sources of liquids.
But to answer your question, it is extremely doubtful (almost nil) that your complexion problem was started or encouraged by soft drinks.
Make an appointment to see a dermatologist. Recent medical research has worked miracles in curbing teen acne.
• 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.