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1:46 PM Tue, Nov. 13th

Dear Annie: Baby, won’t you look my way?

Dear Annie: I am a 21-year-old guy in college. I am on my school’s cross-country and track teams, and in my spare time, I am the bass guitarist and one of the vocalists for a band.

Here’s the issue: Despite what appear to be ideal opportunities to meet women, none seems to be interested in me. I’m friends with several of them, but that’s as good as it gets.

I guess it’s because of my looks. I have a crooked nose; my ears stick out (I mean WAY out); I have a gap in my front teeth (like David Letterman); and I have freckles under my eyes. Think Alfred E. Neuman from Mad magazine but with brown hair instead of bright red.

I’m also very skinny, which I need to be to run miles in short periods of time. I know that some girls like guys with muscles, so that rules me out.

When the band gets done playing for the night, it’s as if the room tilts away from me, as all the girls are talking to my better-looking band mates. The only girls who come talk to me are either relatives or those who ask me to introduce them to one of the other band members. (This happens frequently.)

I don’t mean to make this some sort of misogynistic rant. I know that women can’t control whom they are attracted to any more than my male friends and I can control whom we are attracted to.

I’ve thought about asking both male and female friends what my problem may be or what I could do to improve the situation, but I can’t because I’m too embarrassed.

I’m an athlete AND a musician. I shouldn’t have any problem at all, right? Please help. – Stuck Alone

Dear Stuck: Trust me, not all girls prefer human Ken dolls. The “imperfect” attributes you mentioned can add to your charm. You just have to learn how to make them work for you. You can do that using the single most attractive trait: confidence.

So be confident that exactly who you are is enough. Let your warmth and intelligence shine through. Crack jokes; laughter is an aphrodisiac. When you’re playing shows, flash that gap-toothed grin proudly and women will think it’s the cutest smile they’ve ever seen.

It may be a “fake it till you make it”-type process, but gradually you’ll start to feel that room tilt in your direction.

Dear Annie: Nowadays, many people are talking faster than I can listen. Instead of having clearly enunciated words, sentences all run together as one continuous sound.

I’m not the only one who can’t decipher the noise. Using the TV remote, I’ve tested my comprehension skills against my wife’s, grandkids’, neighbors’ and friends’. Sometimes we replay a clip a few times and still can’t agree on what was said. I gave up on listening to phone messages; they’re so rapid they blur. Even a clear message is wasted when the return number is rattled off quickly at the end. Annie, you can help the nation if you use your column to encourage clear speech. – Hearing Gibberish in Georgia

Dear Gibberish: I hear you loud and clear. We’re living in a world that’s so fast-paced it can become disorienting, and that carries over to speech. I’m printing your letter as a reminder to us all to take a breath and slow down.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.