Dear Sean


I’m afraid cause its my schools dance party and what should I do about a boy who I like? I dont think hes even going to ask me about the party if no one does something quick.

We are supposed to have are dance partners all ready but I don’t. So should I wait so he can ask me, or can I ask him since I’m a girl?

My grandma said ask you since my parents are not alive anymore.



You have a crisis on your hands. This is serious. But before I say anything else, let me first clarify what your letter says so I can make sure I understand correctly:

1. You are 10 years old.
2. There is a school dance.
3. You want to go.
4. With a cute boy.
5. And you want him to invite you.
6. But he’s a guy.
7. And guys are too busy picking belly-button lint to realize what’s going on.
8. Which is exactly how I spent my entire school year when I was 10 years old.

All this has you conflicted. On one hand, you want to go to the dance with this boy. On the other, girls don’t traditionally ask boys to dances—although this rule never made sense to me.

So basically you’re stuck.

Well, the first thing I can tell you is try to get used to it. Because it won’t be the last time.

I stress this because when you get older you’ll be tempted to feel bad about yourself when you get confused about romance. Someday your heart might get broken and you’ll want to point the blame at yourself.

I don’t know why, but we tend to blame ourselves when something doesn’t work out. And when we’re lonely, it’s easy to think we’re not good-looking enough, or popular enough, or wearing the right shoes.

But don’t do that. You’re perfect. In fact, you’re better than perfect. You’re you.

Furthermore, I can guarantee that if this boy isn’t noticing you it has nothing to do with your movie-star looks, magnetic personality, or your superb taste in columnists.

This is a communication issue. And luckily, such issues can be fixed. So let’s get down to the nuts and washers.

Now, I bet you think you’re giving off all the classic signals of a girl who is dying to be asked to a dance, right? And in Girl Universe you’re probably doing it textbook.

The problem is, this boy lives in Boy Universe and is currently tied up doing important things like experimenting with bottle rockets on the extremities of Ken dolls. He’s distracted.

So we have a few options here.

Certainly, we could get his attention by walking up to him and asking him to the dance. But that’s uncomfortable, and we are afraid of weirding him out. Which would only put us further from our goal. So this means we have to be smart.

How? How do we make sure this boy notices you, and more importantly, asks you to a dance? The answer is: trickery.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First let me tell you a story given to me by my wife’s friend Anne.

When Anne was in seventh grade her school used to throw square-dance parties wherein middle-aged teachers would dress up like characters from “Little House on the Prairie” and force students to dance in the gymnasium.

After the square-dance portion of the event, children were then administered large doses of RC Cola and sugary baked goods, whereupon everyone danced freestyle to songs like “YMCA” and “Play That Funky Music.”

Then came the slow dances. In seventh grade, slow dancing was where things got real.

Well, Anne had a problem.

Anne was madly in love with her friend Matt. But Matt was clueless because Matt was your prototypical boy. Matt spent most of his waking hours concerning himself with issues involving relief pitching and armpit music.

So Anne did something ingenious. Her mother, who was from a small town in Mississippi, came up with an idea. Anne would get Matt’s attention by baking a traditional Mississippi chocolate cake, something her mother nicknamed a “Dance Cake.”

The cake was enormous. According to Anne, it was a huge, “homemade chocolate monument to insulin.” At the dance, Anne placed the cake onto the food table and talked to Matt with pure confidence.

She said, “Look, I baked this.”

Matt reflected on this statement then excitedly tried to help himself to a slice of cake, whereupon Anne slapped his hand.

“No,” she said. “This is a Dance Cake.”

Matt failed to grasp the deeper meaning, so Anne explained: “Anybody who eats a piece of my Dance Cake has to dance with me.”


And do you know what? It worked. Anne tells me they danced together all night, waltzing on the gymnasium floor to the 1981 anthem, “At This Moment” by Billy Vera and the Beaters.

I got in touch with Anne this morning and asked for permission to share her story. She texted me back right away and do you know what her reply text read?

“My mom says it also works on marriage proposals.”

So relax, you’re 10 years old, enjoy your life. Be yourself. Be confident. Don’t ever sell yourself short. Make sure your cake is done in the middle. And whatever you do, never, ever stop writing letters to me.

Because I promise, we are more alike than you might know.


  1. Mark D MacIntyre - May 21, 2021 7:49 am

    It’s comforting to know that you are still 10 years old in your heart Sean.

  2. Fleming Straughan - May 21, 2021 11:34 am

    Your writing is a welcome addition to my morning
    Just a thought, maybe for you to address. 10 year old girls and boys go through that awkward dance. What happens at the other end of life when you’re 60, 70 or 80. Especially when you add the internet introduction to the recipe. Would that be worth your reflection?
    Thank you for your writings

  3. Tammy S. - May 21, 2021 12:12 pm

    💗💙 So sweet! And great advice!!

  4. Connie Wood - May 21, 2021 1:05 pm

    Another humorous yet heartwarming column! Thanks

  5. Christine - May 21, 2021 1:06 pm

    Very good advice for 10 year old sweet girl from Georgia. Life is complicated at times but in the end things work out for the good.

  6. Katherine D Jones - May 21, 2021 1:32 pm

    Now THIS is a Classic Column! “Dance Cake” – I Love It!! And if this is trickery, then Long may it live. THANKS, Sean for sharing this story and the great advice within! Keep it going.

  7. Roxanne Langley - May 21, 2021 1:42 pm

    Advice gold right there. Your description of boys and the many merits of a good chocolate cake are spot on.

  8. Bob E - May 21, 2021 1:47 pm

    Very sweet…
    My older (conniving) sister psst psst to me that a neighbor girl liked me. It worked – we ‘went out’ but strangely it did not satisfy my tummy.
    Lucky Anne. Congratulations.

  9. Phil (Brown Marlin) - May 21, 2021 2:09 pm

    Bob hit on what I call “Plan B” wherein a friend of the starstruck one subtly mentions to the unsuspecting boy, who is probably busy making spitballs or picking a scab off his knee, that a certain young lady would sure like to go to the dance with him. The rest is then up to Opie or whatever his name might be.

  10. Nena - May 21, 2021 2:42 pm

    I remember my 4th grade son came out of his room after bedtime and said “Tomorrow is a school dance and I don’t have a date”. I told him “ Of course you don’t have a date, you’re in 4th grade!” I explained, a few kids will have pretend dates, but you will dance will all the girls you want and have more fun! 🕺By the way, in 1988, I went to a Billy Vera concert 🎶 in Owensboro, KY. Loved it!

  11. Wendy - May 21, 2021 3:15 pm

    And que the tears!

  12. Fred W Lennon - May 21, 2021 4:06 pm

    I can’t help but wonder why you would use a word like “prototypical” to a 10 year old. Perhaps she knows it because she is a smart girl but I’m SURE I didn’t know it when I was a 10 year old boy.

  13. Sandra Nelsen - May 21, 2021 5:02 pm

    Sigh. One of my daughters did a beautiful chalk drawing on a boy’s driveway asking him to a church prom, that WAS for the girls to ask a boy. His mom came out, and took photos, and said daughter is a lovely girl. He did not even bother to reply. She felt horrible…..but got over it at some point. She is married, has two step sons she loves dearly, a little son, survived stage three cancer at 28, six months of chemo, and is fostering a little guy who just turned two, and she says life is pretty perfect. That wasn’t the worst thing that has happened to her, just the worst at the time. When I asked her about it after reading this today, she said, you know, he was David something is all I can tell you, LOL!

  14. Linda Moon - May 21, 2021 5:45 pm

    Did you find out about a boy I liked a long time ago? If so, tell me, because I lost a letter from that Texas guy. If I had known about you back then, I would’ve written to “Dear Sean” about him. I needed to know about clarification #7 which applies to guys of 10 or way-past 10. Since I have superb taste in columnists, Columnist, you just might be getting a letter from me!

  15. MAM - May 21, 2021 6:28 pm

    Trickery gets easier the older you get! And it can be pretty subtle, but very effective!

  16. Steve McCaleb - May 21, 2021 7:41 pm

    Sean….please promise me you won’t ever grow up. At least not completely. Don’t think I could bear it. Good stuff son….again.

  17. AlaRedClayGirl - May 21, 2021 8:49 pm

    “Homemade chocolate monument to insulin”… if that doesn’t win the boy’s heart, then he isn’t worth having!

  18. Ann - May 22, 2021 12:31 am

    Sorry but 10 year olds should not be” going to a dance” with a boy….wait a few years..

  19. Cathy - May 22, 2021 2:40 am

    Now I want a piece of cake. This has become my feel good site.

  20. pdjpop - May 22, 2021 8:56 am

    Oh, man
    You’ve reached perfection.
    When you can explain the emotions and insecurities of children as you have done here, you have reached the writer’s summit. I love your descriptions of children when faced with these life changing moments. Yes, they are huge moments. You made them possible to face and even provided a plan.
    Yes, she has made a great choice in columnist who has shared a piece of himself and the wisdom of others. Let’s just hope the young man doesn’t blow it! And if he does, I know you are there for her.
    Thanks, Sean.

  21. Jay Payleitner - May 22, 2021 2:28 pm

    So . . . don’t give away the cake until it’s really done? And maybe get the ring before the dance?


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