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Talking with people and other things to be afraid of!

Dear Greg,

Being of the male species, I figured you could help me. Whenever I meet a guy I like I turn into a total ice queen-I just clam up and try to cover up my shyness by being (a) really sarcastic or (b) just ignoring them entirely. Now, I may not have read a lot of Cosmo lately but I know this isn’t a way to get a guy (or anyone for that matter). To make matters worse I’m beginning to get a reputation for being so icy cool, which is starting to salt my game, let me tell ya! What’s a girl to do!?

Thanks a bunch, Greg!


Hey Greg,

By nature I am a shy and quiet person. Normally, it doesn’t pose a problem because I can usually hold an intelligible conversation. The problem occurs when a guy I am interested in is around. I start shaking inside, my mind tends to go blank and I become a mute, or I spit out something nonsensical. While all this is going on inside my head, my exterior is usually incredibly calm, almost indifferent, but I can’t manage to say anything because I’m trying to think of something witty, charming or intelligent to say. So I come off as one of three things: Vacant, can’t be bothered with talking to them or like I am Charlie Gordon before his operation in Flowers for Algernon. So,what kind of advice, if any, would you give for dealing with this, so I can actually have a conversation next time I run into this problem. 



Dear Tania and D, 

I used to have the same, paralyzing fear come over me when I would try to talk with girls. At first I didn’t understand what was happening because this sort of state of panic used to only be brought on by the fear of snakes coming out of the toilet hole. (True)

But as I got older and there were more reasons to want to say things to the opposing sex and less reports of a rattler coming through the sewer pipes and mistaking whatever a person has down there as a threat, my worries began to shift from snake attacks to worrying about what it was a guy could say that would make a girl interested and maybe also not see whatever it was he had down there as a threat.  

I had no ideas. And trying to casually “just wing it” would usually find me doing something that was way less effective than just “not talking”. Like, “following them to their locker and then running away” or, “following them into the girls bathroom, yelling, “Lookout! Snake in the ladies room!” and then running away” and also, “throwing up (while running away)”. (True)

What I discovered from these aborted attempts, besides that I have a pretty good short distance sprint, was that talking to girls (or anyone you don’t know but that you ultimately want to have like you) is really scary - But not as scary as a snake biting you when you’re just trying to deal with yesterday’s business. 

And what I mean by that is people, all over the world, have to talk with new people that they want to impress, all the time. Sometimes they say the right thing and it works. Other times, for whatever reason, it just doesn’t land. All of them are usually fine afterwards and are ready to talk to someone new again soon, no matter what the outcome is. And it’s that repetition and recovery that allows it to become less and less scary each time - and why a snake in the toilet is still very terrifying.

If every time that you sat down in the washroom there was a decent chance that a King Cobra could be in the bowl, just coiled back in the dark shadowy part of the drainage system, waiting to lunge out and grab onto you with his fangs the moment you dropped your pants and lifted the lid - eventually that too would be old hat. You would just learn to keep one hand ready on the mongoose before reaching for the tissue. (In this alternate world all bathrooms would be equipped with a wild mongoose and also probably a gender specified wild mongoose trainer to not make things uncomfortable and to make sure the mongoose would always be good and riled up, just in case that old snake comes a slithering your way). 

So what I’m saying is what World Renowned Cobbler and Snake Danger Watch advocate Phil Knight has been saying for years. Just do it. Don’t worry about it because it gets easier. And also peek before you pee. Because just because it almost never happens doesn’t mean that it will not happen. And it could happen… to you. (True) 

Thanks for writing and Happy New Years To All Of Y’all!








10 notes

High School, After High School and In-Between!

Hey Greg my name is Debora and I will be graduating High School in May 2011. My question is should I take a year off after I graduate or go straight to college in Fall 2011?

-Thank You


Dear Debora,


Seventeen-plus years in the education system is a long time. Sometimes you need a break before jumping right into the world of higher learning. I don’t think anyone who has taken some time away from school has ever really regretted it. You’re going to be spending a lot of energy and money while completing your program, so you should make sure you’re fully ready to take that on in order to get the most out of it. Before you decide whether to go to school in September or not, try to imagine how you’ll feel in a few months knowing that four-plus more years of intense effort and exertion is right on the horizon. If that already feels exhausting to you, maybe a year off is the right course to take.  


If you think you’re going to wait to slip into that monogrammed school sweater, then you need to decide what you’re going to do in the mean time. Getting a job, any job is step one. If you can find a position that will give you close to 40 hours a week, even better. (Also, make sure to save a good bit of all that cash that’ll be flowing in… You’ll thank yourself when you have some funds available to eat anything other than the meat of the week dish from the residence cafe every once in a while.) But beyond that, what do you do with all this new found free-time you’re going to have? I recommend using the next year to develop into becoming THE ULTIMATE FRESHMAN. Here’s a quick checklist you can use to help:


  • Have you read Ayn Rand? Any Ayn Rand? At least have a tattered, marked up copy of The Fountainhead you can let fall out of your bag in front of choice company? $3 at a used book store could lead to a whole deluge of hot TA action. (Stroking his ego while pouring over his dissertation comparing Balzac to the Mountain Goats.)
  • Pick up a cheap acoustic guitar. Don’t bother building a repertoire of classics or even really learning to play the thing. Focus all your energy on mastering THE song, Boston’s “More Than a Feeling”. Instant feel good vibes all over your floor.
  • Get a poncho. Wear the poncho. Don’t take it off till you’re ready to change into a cap and gown. 
  • Acquire a stomach for coffee. Like, your dad’s coffee. There will be no “Acai-mint-mocha-whispered-through-a-cloud-of-pablum” where you’re going.  

There you go! That’s all you really need to prepare for campus life. And once you are there, don’t forget- There’s a reason Long Island Iced Tea was named after Long Island.  Just saying.

Happy learnin’ and see you for Tokyo Phrosh Circuit 2012!

4 notes

Alternative job opportunities and dropping out!

Dear Greg,

I am a 20 year old college student, and lately I’ve been having strong urges to join a traveling circus. The problem is, I don’t have any marketable circus skills. I’m also not opposed to joining a roaming gypsy clan, but simply do not know how to find one and get them to accept me.

Eternally grateful,


Dear Stephanie,


I think the real problem you have is that your definition of “marketable circus skills” is just too narrow. In only thinking of the glory roles they have under the big top, you’re forgetting about the whole slew of workers whose job it is to provide the performers with the stage, equipment and proper outlet for violent outbursts that they require in order to go out and entertain a bunch of kids and parents every night.


A quick search on craigslist for positions in the travelling entertainment industry yields options like, “Slop guy; body-wax artiste and addiction support counsellor.” A job in this field gives you a chance to see the world while taking on real-world responsibilties, like picking peanut shells and Parliament butts out of some “ladies” bushy Paul Bunyon before she faces her public. Most summer internships can’t offer that. 


And at the circus, the room for career advancement is enormous. Sure, you may start off a cage maid, but eventually you could impress your superiors to the point where you might not even be made to live in that cage that its your duty to clean! You can climb the ladder all the way to the top. There’s no glass cieling here; this roof is made of thick, untearable canvas that’ll make the sky seem about as limiting as having “only a bachelors degree” when applying to be put in charge of “clown probation-break watch”. 


Remember, a tent that big needs a lot of pegs to keep it standing- One of those pegs could be you! If you don’t mind being driven into the ground then wrenched back out only to be driven right back in again, day after day after day…


Oh, and PS: Hippies were the new roaming gypsies and even back in the days when they did have a real good ramble on they all just ended up in Burlington, Vermont. Stay in school duuuude!

44 notes

Dating and high school!

I’m 15, UK. Um, this is just a question for you in particular Greg… Do you think dating in high school is ‘pointless’? I mean, it hardly means anything right? 



Dear Danny,


I don’t think dating in high school is pointless at all. Something that I came to realize, almost immediately following graduation, is that it’s really only while you’re still in high school that you can actively (and openly) experience dating high school girls. I’m not saying I want to date high school girls now, or even miss the days when I did date high school girls- but there definitely is a time and a place for it; and it’s while you - and they - are both securely in the secondary school institution. 


High school dating differs from other types of dating, be it speed, blind or carbon (and I do recommend dating carbon based life forms, exclusively) in that once it’s all over you can never really go back and try doing it again, especially not with all the new Facebook friend restrictions they’re now enforcing. You don’t want to have the thought, “Gee, I wonder what it’d be like to be with that cute, teenage barista…” creep into your head, years after it’s already considered socially, and lawfully too late for you to do so and not have that wealth of practical knowledge there to remind you, “Oh yeah, it’d be likeyeooooOOOOWWWW! Forget that!” 


Being romantically involved with someone at that age, at any level of intimacy, is like being a contestant on a Japanese gameshow: Every move you make could lead to pain, public humiliation or total confusion as to why you’re in front of a live studio audience, dressed up in a Cupid costume, dripping wet with hot chocolate. But - If you stick it out and make it through all the certain awfulness it could eventually lead to something pretty amazing. Like a smooch session. Or a new Nintendo Wii game. Either way- decent prize, right?