Dear E. Jean: Last year I met an adorable fellow at a bar. One thing led to another, and we ended up going home together that night. We saw each other off and on for several weeks, then he dumped me, saying I was too young for him. I’m 24. He’s 31. Six months later, he started dating a phony, obnoxious, downright dim-witted woman I work with. (We work in TV.) She was with me the night I met him! I had a hard time dealing with them being together, seeing as how he broke my heart, but I managed to function at work. Well, guess what, E. Jean? That bitch got engaged to him! Now it’s impossible for me to pretend that they don’t exist as she is wagging her ring all over. I’m inconsolable! How can a woman like that get engaged, and someone like me—smart, funny, friendly, cute—be single? It’s unfair! So unjust! How do I deal? —The Cast-off
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Cast, my kumquat: Trust me, I’ve been there. You’ll never get over him until you stop hating her. Besides, the proper etiquette for picking up a random homie in a bar is for the young lady to make the event fun for everyone. So, how to “deal”:
1. Distance yourself. Step back, be the dragonfly on the wall when you interact with the woman—and observe yourself in the experience. Be “curious, not judgmental,” as old Walty Whitman says. You’ll feel instantly less wigged out.
2. Give her an engagement gift. This will make you see yourself—to elaborate on your female dog metaphor—as less the foam-flecked Hound of the Baskervilles and more the lovable Lassie.
3. While children are starving on this planet, you can loudly complain about “unjust,” but do it while you volunteer at a family homeless shelter. Check out the National Center on Family Homelessness (“For Every Child, a Chance”) at Familyhomelessness.org. You may meet someone here who’s “adorable” and not a total dickhead.
This letter is from the E. Jean archive.