Bad Grades? Girl Trouble? Just Ask Mark Godes, Boston's 13-Year-Old Answer to Abby

updated 11/07/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/07/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

Dear Bobby:

In my class there is an argument over who's smarter—girls or boys. The girls think they are, but my fellow classmates think the boys are. Who is right?

—CONFUSED

Dear Confused:

Nobody is right. Some girls are smarter than boys and vice-versa.

That's just one example of the kind of straightforward answers that flow from the pen of Bobby Simpson, a/k/a 13-year-old Mark Godes of Chelsea, Mass. His advice column has been running in the Boston Herald once a week for the past year. Though he specializes in "kid's stuff," like how much an allowance should be (it depends) and whether or not it is impolite for grandparents to listen in on teen phone calls (it is), Godes has handled questions about gay rights and suicide with such aplomb that his editor, Betsy Buffing-ton, claims, "He's such a sensible kid it scares the hell out of me."

Godes convinced the Herald's managing editor to start running a kid's column on the strength of two editorials he had written for his local paper at age 9. Now he receives some 25 to 30 letters a week and responds to three or four in his 300-word column. "The answers to most questions are obvious," says Mark, who is paid $50 per column, but he consults friends and occasionally a social worker on the tough ones.

An eighth grader at Cohen Hillell Academy in nearby Swampscott, Godes likes basketball and admits to a sitcom addiction. (Told by his editor that "Mark" wasn't catchy enough for his column, Godes plucked "Bobby" from The Brady Bunch and tacked on Simpson for good measure.) Mark's parents are divorced; his father, David, is a security guard, and Godes lives with his mother, Muriel, a former secretary, who provides a service denied most journalists. Since he can't type, "Bobby" dictates his column to Mom every week.

From Our Partners