OK, you're in high school and you believe it's high time you start dating. But first you must learn a few things to help you begin.
Let's say that you've found someone with whom you feel comfortable enough to go out. How do you go about trying to attract him or her?
Most teen-agers we talked to say begin by just being yourself. Don't try to become what you think he or she would like you to be.
"If they don't like you for what you are, then they are not worth it," Jill, a senior at Voyager Christian High School, advised. "Someone else is probably waiting to go out with you."
Next, you want them to notice you.
"If there is someone you really like and want to go out with, do little things to get them to notice you," Brewer said.
Some people really go to extremes to attract the attention of the opposite sex, but one sure-fire method is flirting.
"Flirt with them," Brewer said. "If you're the shy type, then do all you can. Talk to someone that knows them and ask them to tell the other person (how you feel). That way you'll know if they want to (go out) or not, and you won't be rejected face to face."
It often helps, teen-agers say, to try to get to know the person better. Write notes to him or her, telephone or just talk during lunch, break or whenever you get the chance.
"If I like a girl, I try to get to know her better," said Christian, a recent graduate of Voyager Christian. "If I still like her, I'll ask her if she wants to go out sometime."
Finally, ask them out. But if they don't respond, don't worry. There's always somebody else.
"If you are turned down," Brewer said, "don't think of it as being rejected. It's their loss. There are a lot of other people out there."
But let's think positively. Let's say that the object of your attention shares a mutual fascination and a date is arranged, so where do you go?
"When going on a first date, a person should pick a place where other people are present and there are many things to look at and do," Ruth von Sydow Staggs, a Voyager Christian teacher, advised. "In other words, if you are nervous, there is nothing worse than going to an intimate dinner for two and staring blankly into space."
Generally, you might go to the movies or maybe for a quick bite to eat. The outdoors type may prefer the beach, the park for a picnic or the zoo.
"A typical date would be taking a girl to dinner and a movie," Eby said. "I like to have part of the date where we can talk. I want to get to know the girl better . . . find out what she thinks about things."
Once you've decided where you're going, deciding what to wear becomes easier.
"Wear something that you like and feel comfortable in," Brewer said. "Don't wear something you wouldn't usually wear."
Said Staggs: "Wear something comfortable that will not tear when you sit or squat down. Don't wear white unless, of course, you are going to a wedding, because white will automatically attract every piece of dirt for miles around."
And speaking of messes, Staggs offers this dining advice: "Don't eat spaghetti with meat sauce, which can splatter all over your face and outfit. Order foods that are easy to cut and eat."
So how have those first-date experiences worked out?
"My best date was taking a girl to a Sadie Hawkins dance," Eby said. "It was a girl I barely knew. I met her a couple of months before. We went, had a great time and have become good friends."
Said Staggs: "I went on my first real date when I was 16. I was extremely thrilled and nervous because the boy who asked me out was on the football team. I really do not know how I got him; I thought he was too popular and image-conscious. Actually, I only admired him from afar.
"We went to the Laguna Beach Sawdust Festival. We drove down the coast and talked. He took me home, and I didn't have to worry about that dreaded first kiss since he didn't even try. We dated again later a few times, and now we are good friends."
And the worst date?
"My worst date was taking a girl to Disneyland," Eby said. "I spent $40 on the tickets, and she wanted to leave an hour after we got there. She said she didn't feel good, but actually she liked my friend more than me."