Dear Sean

When I read the email, I realized the person who wrote this letter was not being funny, but was having a dire emergency.

I’ll be the first to admit that I know jack diddly about teenage romance, which is why I am answering an important email on teenage romance.

This morning, I got an email with the subject line:


Almost anyone can relate to the urgency of this six-exclamation-point statement. We’ve all been there, sitting in third-period algebra, filled with teenage angst and confusion, but all we can do is daydream because in our heart of hearts we aren’t exactly sure what a “bpy” is.

When I read the email, I realized the person who wrote this letter was not being funny, but has a dire emergency.

Here’s part of the message:

“There’s a guy in my class [eighth grade] who is cute and I want to talk to him, but he doesn’t even know I’m alive, and my mom told me I should ask you because you’re also a guy. I hoped you might have some advice for me.”

Well, the first thing I want to say is that I am jealous of my parents and grandparents. They had it a lot easier than we do. There have been some major changes in the field of romance within the last sixty years.

The uncharted waters of teenage love were a lot easier to navigate back when Sandra Dee was still playing Gidget and people were still using the word “gosh” before each sentence.

Let’s take, for example, the movie “Beach Blanket Bingo,” which was on cable a few nights ago. Fifteen minutes into this movie and you can see how much society has changed.

For one thing, fashion is different. Men quit wearing skimpy swim trunks, and ladies quit wearing those massive conical brassieres that resembled military defense machinery capable of taking out entire villages. For another thing, nobody uses the word “spiffy” anymore.

We can clearly see that dating was a lot simpler. Back then, a boy merely waltzed up to a girl and said, “Gosh, you’re spiffy!” Then, they went surfing together while Frankie Avalon sang “Secret Surfin’ Spot” and played a guitar that was strung entirely with dental floss.

But today we have things like cell phones, email, social media profiles, Twitter, Snapchat, text messages, video calling, and whatever else there is. How is an American kid supposed to navigate this new world?

The thing is, I sort of know how you’re feeling. When I was in eighth grade, I wanted Jessie Grant to notice me. I was clueless and shy. My method of getting her to pay attention to me was easy. I never spoke to her, or made eye contact, or stood in the same time zone, or breathed her oxygen.

Instead, I kept her under distant surveillance, hoping that one day—this was my big plan—she would spontaneously tackle me and say, “ASK ME TO GO TO THE MOVIES, YOU DWEEB!”

The downside of using this approach is that today, Jessie Grant is middle-aged with six children, and she still has no idea that I ever officially existed.

I was always afraid of the opposite sex. In fact, I’m not even certain how I managed to get married. I didn’t initiate much with my wife. All I know is that one day I met a girl, and the next day I was at a real-estate closing.

I say all this to tell you my basic philosophy for life, which is: “I have no freaking idea what what’s going on.”

I am one hundred percent serious. This is my credo. I have never known what’s going on. I will never know what’s going on. And neither will anyone else. That’s the beauty of it.

Oh, sure. Lots of people claim to know. They act like they have a clear idea of how life goes. Or worse, they act like they have a say in it. These people have sand in their britches.

So if you ask me, I say why fight it? When you see this crush of yours walking the school hallway, here’s what I think you ought to do.


That’s it. Just relax. Be yourself. Stay cool. Enjoy your life.

I don’t know much, but I know that the greatest things in life happen TO you. They don’t happen because of you. They happen in spite of you. At least, that’s how it’s worked for me.

I am running out of room here, or else I would tell you a few more anecdotes about my childhood which you probably don’t care about. Like the one about how I eventually took Jessie Grant’s cousin, Elaine, to the movies. And when I placed my arm around her shoulders she said with total sincerity, “I can’t breathe, dweeb, did you go swimming in a pool of cologne?”

So I’ll just say this. You’re a human being. You are special whether you know it or not. You have the entire world before you. If this guy you admire is worth his sap, he will find you. And if he doesn’t, just relax, Gidget.

The right bpy will come along.


  1. Cathe DeLoney - August 25, 2019 10:40 am

    You said it….the best things in life happen TO you, in spite of you, not because of you. Date has a funny way of giving us exactly what is meant to be at exactly the right time. Things beyond what you can even imagine. So exist, be you, live life, have fun.

  2. Elizabeth - August 25, 2019 11:55 am

    Excellent advice!

  3. Ginger - August 25, 2019 12:44 pm

    You said a mouthful when you said that the greatest things in life happen in spite of you, not because of you. Good one, but BPY????? (I am of the Gidget era.)

  4. Richard - August 25, 2019 1:08 pm

    Good advice to “be yourself”. Everyone else is taken.
    The letter writer was probably nervous writng to Sean and hit the P instead of the O. No big deal.
    Just be yourself Girl, that’s what makes you SPECIAL.

  5. GD - August 25, 2019 1:26 pm

    I’m still waiting for Joan Frye from 1967 6th grade to know that I’m madly in love with her. Or Judy Pierce from 4th grade. Sometimes you gotta get over that shyness. Alas, I never did.

  6. Steve - August 25, 2019 1:35 pm

    BPY is probably some secret code used to confuse adults my age. In this young girls panic, she must’ve forgot that, or thought you were so cool you would be able to de-code it. The best advice you gave was the best things in life “happen to you”, not because of you. No of us can really plan our lives. Just when you think you have it all figured out, life will throw you a curve ball and you will have to adjust. Sometimes dramatically. Stage 4 cancer was my curve ball. I didn’t plan on that. Not sure if that’s a “BPY”; but it is what it is, and you simply choose to find the the good in it. There is good in it, you just have to look a little harder.

  7. Helen - August 25, 2019 2:24 pm

    Your life experience on this matter is to the point and so true. Sometimes they never come along and maybe you think they are the one, then to you find out that one is not for you either. Sometimes in life it’s just not meant to be but life and happiness must go on. I tell this story to some of my family members and let them know they don’t need a man in their lives to breath. If you have one it’s a plus but if you don’t life must go on and happiness can endure. The males don’t need a female to exist and be happy. Smile like you’re never smiled before, dance to all the music you hear and enjoy life. If that cute boy/girl come along that is a bonus. Until then, live and let live. Be self independent because it might not ever happen but you can also keep moving on. This is advice from an experience lady. I am 68 married and divorced 4 times by the age of 27. I’ve been single over 40 years now and have enjoyed life the way it is suppose to be. I married one cute boy twice. You learn by doing but that is a tough lesson to learn.

    • Helen - August 25, 2019 2:37 pm

      I came back to say, I was born a little past the Gidget days, grew up in church and if you didn’t do anything else, you should get married especially before you have children. I doesn’t regret this up bringing because after all my mistakes it gave me hope and happiness. I’ve never lived with someone without being married and never will. I took life back in my hands and furthered my career as an Insurance Executive, built my retirement just in case and kept living and being happy. I am retired now, still single and very happy.

  8. Jo - August 25, 2019 2:26 pm

    Great advice. Wish all young people knew what we have learned. It’s tough being a kid these days. Good column today, Sean.

  9. Sue Cronkite - August 25, 2019 4:25 pm

    What does bpy mean?

  10. Linda Moon - August 25, 2019 4:33 pm

    Gosh, I’m not even sure what a mpn is, even after all these years. “Gosh, You’re Spiffy” was my “Hey, Baby”, and the rest is history. Gosh, I’m glad life happened TO you, Sean. Otherwise you might not be writing and telling stories and making music for the fans and followers you have amassed!!

  11. That's jack - August 25, 2019 4:58 pm

    Okay dude, Ann Landers you ain’t. But for a boy you done good. I’m still stuck on the BPY!
    Our sympathies sent from NC, LOL
    Sherry & jack

  12. Edna B. - August 25, 2019 6:14 pm

    I got stuck on the BPY too. But maybe Richard has it right — the P was supposed to be an O. Your advice is sound. Just being yourself is best. I grew up before “spiffy” and I can’t remember what we did. When I was five years old, the love of my life was the little boy across the street. But once we started school, he met a lot of other girls and I was left in the lurch. Oh well. You have a wonderful day Sean, hugs, Edna B.

  13. Wayne Conrad - August 25, 2019 6:28 pm

    Good advice. After a divorce, I franticly sougth another partner. When I quit looking for a relationship, I met a lady that wasn’t looking either. We became friends, developed respect and now have been married for 36 years.

    • Wayne - August 25, 2019 6:42 pm

      Forgot to add: The P is next to the O on a keyboard. It’s a frequent mistake for me to miss a key like that and not see it.

  14. Joe Patterson - August 26, 2019 12:11 pm

    Thanks again all young guys are scared to death of the opposite sex


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