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MORE secrets from The Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual

dumpFace it, it’s no fun, and we’ve all been there… unless you’re one of those who’s married your elementary school sweetheart and have no experience whatsoever with the words:

“It’s not you, it’s me…”

…which everyone (except you) knows actually mean: “It’s not you, I’m an asshole.”

There are a zillion different scenarios, which I won’t delve into here. For instance, the kind where you see it coming: he’s phoning less and less. Your stomach lurches every time you look at your cell phone and notice all the little green arrows. Huh. Every time you see his number, YOU called HIM.

Bad. Bad sign.

SO…. you start getting a little pissier each time you DO talk. HE doesn’t want to call someone who’s always pissy. Would you? Things spiral downhill from there… yet somehow… when the big fat DUMP comes…

Surprise! (was it me? what did I do? why doesn’t he want to have babies with me? wait – I don’t WANT babies. wait – was it me – wait. WHAT?) All you say, however, is just a quiet, emotionless: “Okay.” Sometimes your back stiffens and you get a little formal, and you might give him two whole words: “That’s fine.” 

The big fat LURCH in your stomach comes up– and sometimes, later, even the contents of your stomach itself.

The point is, he or she doesn’t want you anymore, despite all your brilliant qualities, your sparkling conversation, your cool emoticons, nifty predictive texting, and the Brainbone Awards gleaming on your Facebook Page.

So you’ve eaten three and a half Ben & Jerry’s Rainforest Crunch tubs. And the Family Size Bag of Fun-Size Snickers. And the loaf of toast, with Thousand Island dressing dipping sauce, when everything else was gone.

You’ve called in sick, so you could surf the Web all day. You’re struggling to resist e-mailing him, and as you’re trying to distract yourself, you find yourself on WikiHow.com, seeing if you can teach yourself how to pull off a Denial of Service Attack Hack on his web site, or if you would get caught if you learned how to program a Trojan Virus that would wipe him out of existence, or at least write your name over and over on his screensaver.

But you know, from the Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual that you were handed in the cigarette-smoke filled bathrooms in school that you will not do any of these things.

It’s okay to fantasize epic revenge, of course. In fact, now’s as good a time as any: Here, I’ll help you: 

Go ahead, you can’t be judged by your thoughts, only by your actions; let’s get it out of your system, and then you’ll be free. C’mon, you can do it. You know you want to. Yeah, see? I see you smiling. 

You see him, don’t you? Old, and alone. Your picture, clasped in his bony, fragile hand, his other hand, trembling and thin, raised to his sobbing, thickly creased face. Your young, beautiful face is partially obscured by his many past tears, it is obvious. The room he is in is dark and cold, and an old, tattered blanket rests across his wheelchair. You can just barely hear his voice call your name, in a throaty voice profound with regret – then you hear the nurses behind him, whispering more loudly amongst themselves: “Poor bastard. He’s been like this for years. All he’ll ever say is her name.”

There, now. Don’t you feel better? Now, get over yourself.



Stoically behave as if you do not care; it’s not as if anyone can actually HURT a superwoman such as yourself.


Casually toss your hair back, as if moving onto the next dance partner at the waltz, your crinoline waving around you in a graceful cloud.


Gently (so as not to further damage the delicate skin under your eyes) clear those dark smudgy puddles of mascara and tears, and max out your cards at the Esteé Lauder counter so you will look even MORE fabulous. You are allowed to get your eyebrows waxed, perhaps a mani-pedi, but you are NOT allowed for the next four to six months to cut your hair. You are WAY too vulnerable.



  1. There are plenty of fish in the sea.
  2. He doesn’t deserve me.
  3. I was too good for him.

You will NOT:

Wander aimlessly through the 7-11, absently muttering “ASShole,” loudly enough to offend innocent passersby.

You will NOT:

Jam your car into Drive, or into Park, hard enough to do enough damage to cost you actual money, because it will most certainly not be said asshole who will be paying for it now, will it?

You will NOT:

Get dolled up and go alone to a fancy bar – or worse, a dive bar – just for the comforts of flirtation or free drinks. Do I really need to explain why THIS is a bad idea?

Don't let this happen to you.

Don't let this happen to you.

And, this bears repeating, because you WILL be sorely tempted: 
YOU WILL NOT, I repeat, NOT, CUT YOUR HAIR. Maybe – and only if a unanimous decision is approved by your closest friends – consider a color change or highlights, but ONLY IF DONE PROFESSIONALLY. 


Recall that as The Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual gets scribbled over during your lifetime with jotted notes, footnotes, and Post-Its, it evolves, somehow, into the Not-So-Fucking-Secret-Mutually-Supportive-I’m-Here-For-You-Sister-Woman’s Manual, and you learn:

THE CONCEPTS are actually TRUE.

There ARE plenty of fish in the sea. The thing is, those fish are the people who really DO love you: your family, your kids, your friends – your guy friends, too, who come in really handy at a time like this – and your best girlfriends, who are AWESOME, and to whom you CAN mutter “ASShole” as loudly as you like, and they will set up a cheer squad for you, complete with pyramid.

If he’s foolish enough to dump you, he probably DIDN’T deserve you, and you WERE too good for him, so do YOURSELF a favor, and move on – it’s actually the best thing for you, because moving on, having no revenge at all, ironically turns out to be the best revenge of all –

… because men always want what they can’t have.

If you move on, have yourself a good old life, happy with yourself, you just MIGHT haunt them forever as the one that got away.

It won’t bother YOU.

You’ll be too busy fighting the rest of the fish off with a stick.

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The Trouble with Vincent

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Vincent VanGogh's The New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art is not the best place to have an abscess in your mouth, especially if you’re nine years old, and you also have new shoes that are making you have to curl your toes to keep them from pinching.

This is a good thing to keep in mind.

It also doesn’t matter that your mother warned you that new shoes are a terrible idea in New York City; they were SO colorful and pretty you just HAD to wear them.

It also doesn’t matter that you just WOULDN’T bring your jacket, because it was warm when we left. Mom will hand over hers, even though all Mom is wearing is a little black tank top and low-rise jeans that she only just realized barely covers her belly like a teenager’s; she can tell by the little breeze that keeps giving her goose bumps.

Mom is also thinking she is very grateful that since Peter’s been away, she’s lost about ten pounds missing him, or else that belly might be hanging over said blue jeans, making this not only uncomfortable for her, but also for onlooking museum-goers. When Peter comes back, and we all come here together, she will get Peter to hold all the jackets.

Because it will be a cold day in July before Mom lets anybody go anywhere again in new shoes and no jacket, that is for DARN sure.

Still: Mom got to see six Van Gogh paintings in person, and that was worth being cold. Sort of. Considering that Mom lost about 600 calories shivering, and Vincent lost his mind and an ear for the sake of those painting, Mom made out lucky in comparison.

:: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – ::

The painting you see pictured is Vincent VanGogh’s Cornfield with Cypress Trees, and it was my favorite of the lot. The reproduction here, like all reproductions of the massively, endlessly reproduced VanGogh images, does scant justice to the painting.

Everyone in the entire universe has seen VanGogh’s work by now, which is interesting, considering the man was considered – and actually, he kind of was – a total flake during his lifetime. He never sold a single painting, although now they’re worth zillions. Not to him, of course. Now he’s dead as a doornail, poor earless thing.

Even now, as talented as he is, if he were someone I knew, he’d probably be one of those friends who, when they call, you kind of go: “Listen, Vincent, I gotta run, can I call you back? No really, this time I WILL call… No, don’t drop by, the kids are… they’re sleeping. Daytime? They’re – they’re napping. No, don’t drop by then, either. Why? Um. Why, that’s a good question. Oh, I’ve got it! Because the principal of their school is coming by, that’s why. Listen, Vincent, can I call you back? I really have to run…”

And you wouldn’t want to even ASK him about his ear. He’d get all started on how in love he was with that girl. He’d go on and on. and you’d be rolling your eyes at whoever was with you in the room…

“Is that Vincent again? Hang UP, for Heaven’s sake!”

You’d be mouthing: “I can’t, I feel SORRY for him…”

Your friend would walk away, shaking his head and muttering.

If you were lucky, though, Vincent would SO appreciate you as his only friend that he’d send you paintings – which, since he was still alive, you would TOTALLY not appreciate. You’d look at the weird, vibrant colors, the thick layers of paint – and like everyone else who saw the radical departure from the sedate, perfect realism of painting back then, you’d force a smile onto your face and say: “Gee, thanks, Vincent, you REALLY shouldn’t have.”

You’d let him sit at your kitchen table and mope, though and probably watch him cry. You’d feed him, because he never had any money. Then, after he overstayed his welcome, you’d send him on his way.

If you were a goofball like me, you’d probably shove the painting into a closet, where one of your kids would decide to “improve it” with crayon or lipstick.

Either that, or your spouse would give it away behind your back to a keener-eyed friend who offered to take it off his hands, even though it meant something to you, because Vincent, as annoying as he could be, was, after all, your pal.

Then, a few years after Vincent died, you’d learn that he was declared a genius, and, thrilled that you had one of his works, you were now set for life, and your kids could go to any college they wanted, you’d go to dig out that painting you’d stored safely in that closet…

Only to find that your husband had sold it to his more savvy friend for a handful of magic beans.

In which case, the only thing to do would be to plant the magic beans, grow the beanstalk, send said husband up after the golden goose, and once said husband is out of sight into the clouds, chop down beanstalk and look for another painter friend.

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