DEAR ABBY: I have an offensive habit of looking people "up and down" when I first meet them, and when I think no one is aware of it. I have tried breaking myself of the habit, but I often don't realize I'm doing it until I catch myself. I know other people notice.
I'm a shy, self-conscious person, but at my age I should be comfortable enough with myself to not allow my insecurities to be so obvious. How can I stop this bad habit? -- MS. LOOKIE-LOO IN GEORGIA
DEAR MS. LOOKIE-LOO: You may be looking people up and down because your social insecurity makes it difficult for you to look them in the eye -- which is what you should be doing. As with any habit, breaking it will take practice. When you meet someone, make a conscious effort to look no further down than the person's shoulders. If you can't continue eye contact, shift your glance between the person's mouth and forehead.
DEAR ABBY: My co-workers and I are having a debate and need you to settle it for us. "Anthony" was born in Mexico and spoke Spanish for the first four years of his life. He was then adopted and has lived in the United States ever since. He does not remember any Spanish at all.
Anthony says that Spanish is his first language (since it was the first one he learned) and that English is his second. My other co-workers, however, say that Spanish cannot be his first language if he doesn't know any. Who is correct? -- SPEAKING UP IN INDIANAPOLIS
DEAR SPEAKING UP: If Spanish was the language your co-worker learned in his early childhood, then Spanish was his first language. However, because he has spoken (and thought) only in English since the age of 4, English is his dominant language. Readers, do you agree?
DEAR ABBY: My wife and I went out to dinner recently at an upscale restaurant in a hotel in a nearby city. During the dinner I asked my wife not to scrape bread crumbs from the tablecloth onto the floor, and to please not use her fingernail to pry something from between her teeth.
She became upset with me for saying it. What she was doing embarrassed me; it didn't look appropriate. She says I should have waited to tell her. We have agreed to abide by your words. -- EMBARRASSED HUSBAND IN OREGON
DEAR EMBARRASSED: As long as you couldn't be overheard, there was nothing wrong with you saying it. In an upscale restaurant, the server is supposed to remove crumbs from the table -- not the diner. And if there was food between your wife's teeth, she should have excused herself from the table to remove it. (Ick!)
DEAR ABBY: I am a 14-year-old girl and have a brother two years older than me. We look a lot alike. I often get, "You look like the girl version of your brother," etc. This doesn't bother me, but I really don't know a polite response to the comment. Any ideas? -- RESEMBLES MY BROTHER
DEAR RESEMBLES: Just smile and say, "No, he looks like the boy version of me."
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)