Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Short-Circuited in Oregon

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: I am a fairly tall sophomore girl in high school. I have dated several guys, but their personalities are not like the guy I have a crush on.

"Ravi" is a junior. He is handsome, shy, intelligent, a good artist and very muscular. The problem is, he is the shortest person in the whole school. I like him a lot, and I want him to notice me. But I would feel really awkward going up to him and starting a conversation. Please give me some tips on how to approach him. -- Short-Circuited in Oregon

Dear Oregon: First of all, it's likely Ravi already has noticed you. Some short guys are reluctant to express an interest in tall girls because they fear they will be rejected. You will have to make the first move.

When you see him in the hall or after class, say, "Hi, Ravi," and smile. The next day, now that you have his attention, ask him a school-related question ("Can you believe that homework assignment?" "Did you finish the chemistry project?"). Try to extend that into a short conversation, and see how things go from there.

Dear Annie: I'd like to respond to "Let's Just Wave, OK?" who suffered from osteoarthritis and dreaded shaking hands at church.

A hint in an etiquette book saved my life -- or at least my hand: Go in for the handshake "web first" (the web is the space between the thumb and index finger), and shake web-to-web. It makes it much harder for someone to get a bone-scrunching grip on you.

To avoid shaking hands at church, I always keep my Bible in my right hand, so with minor body language, it's easy to avoid a handshake. Just smile winningly and perhaps touch the greeter's arm with your left hand, and you're home free. Hope these suggestions help others as much as they've helped me. -- Willing but Unable

Dear Willing: Thank you. Our readers came through with several suggestions for avoiding those excruciatingly painful handshakes. Here's more:

From Butler, Pa.: Many people in the church I attend are elderly and have arthritis, so they just smile and say, "Peace be with you." Congregants understand that these parishioners are extending them peace but don't wish to shake because of their sore hands.


East Coast: Tell "Let's Just Wave" to spray WD-40 on her hands three times daily, and in about three days her hands will feel better. It works for my knee.

Midwest: Perhaps when this person is offered a hand to shake, the arthritic person could take the offered hand between both palms and smile, thus preventing another person from exerting any pressure.

Missouri: I often hurt for hours following handshaking activities at church. Then, I came up with the idea of offering my left hand instead of my right. Somehow, when people take my left hand, they grip much easier. It's not as easy to bear down strongly on a left hand with a right hand. It also throws people because of the unexpectedness. Yet, it allows me to remain friendly. I hope this idea helps.

Dubuque, Iowa: In the church I go to (which is a college chapel), we don't shake hands. We give hugs. It's more personal, you make friends faster that way, and you don't spread as many germs with people sneezing and coughing on their hands then shaking yours. I think it's a great idea and a nice gesture.

Florida: I've heard that the solution for arthritis is a teaspoon of plain gelatin in juice every day. My husband was suffering from arthritis in his hands, and he started taking a heaping teaspoon of the gelatin every day with pineapple juice. Within three months, the pain was gone and his hands were no longer deformed. He still takes the gelatin, and it seems to be keeping everything under control.


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at




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