Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Path to Ex-tasy: The Path to Ex-tasy: Sometimes You Just Have to Be Petty

A glorious thing happened to me recently. I surprised an ex-boyfriend, completely and totally, at a party. An ex who hurt me somewhat when we broke up several years ago and, oh, promptly went on to marry the next woman he dated. We hadn't spoken since.

I planned the whole thing. I knew he'd be there, but he didn't expect to see me. I was dressed up, and mentally prepared. It couldn't have gone better. I walked in -- with an attractive date -- and had the joy of hearing him say, loudly, across a suddenly silent room: "Oh my god, I can't believe you're here." When I walked over to say hello he was so shaken he couldn't respond at all.

Oh, I won that round with flying colors.

It might sound petty. It might sound bitter. But this concept of "winning" is one I will not deny myself. I mean, it's just so fun.

Every once in awhile, we catch an ex at a disadvantage and it boosts our confidence so high we can almost forgive the poor sap for trashing our heart. We have to take our consolations where we can get them, after all. Yes, those are the glorious times. Winning is wonderful.

Of course, there are also the times when both of you know you'll be together at a party -- or worse, a wedding. You've lost the element of surprise and that's unfortunate, but the attitude is just the same. You can win these encounters too, and I'm going to show you how.

Let's start at the beginning: your attitude. Of course, the very beginning involves getting a great haircut and a stunning new outfit. But that's just baby stuff. . . You must present your perfect life as if it's, well, perfect. Living well is the best revenge, and you're going to let him know how well you're living. It takes work of course -- the basic Winning Procedure requires prep time. You need to look gorgeous, have a great job, be stupefyingly happy.

And if none of that's a reality -- just lie your face off.

(Here we must address a core Diva attitude -- I am not your moral or spiritual counselor. I'm about boosting your dating confidence and helping you have fun with what is otherwise a mind-bogglingly stupid method of propagating the species. As such, I happily advocate giving into your baser urges. Hard core revenge is out -- it takes far too much energy and anger -- but occasional dishonesty to flaunt just how much wonderfulness he lost when he lost you? Fully acceptable.)

Second, nail down exactly how to interact with him. If you ignore him, you appear bitter; if you fawn you appear desperate -- so take the middle path. Be perfectly friendly and perfectly distant all at the same time. Be nice -- but let no one mistake you for someone who actually cares. There's a perfect smile for this: your lips curl up at the side, but your teeth never show--and your eyes barely crinkle at all. Go stand in front of the mirror and practice this smile until the disinterest in your eyes actually scares you. (Added bonus: this smile also works wonders on people who try to talk to you in airplanes.)

Next, remember that she who has the most friends wins. Apprize all your friends of the situation ahead of time and make sure they know how much you're depending on them. They have three important jobs:
1) come to your rescue if you're ever stuck talking to him for more than five minutes
2) tell you several times an hour just how stunningly beautiful you look and how unhappy he seems
3) pull you away into the ladies room to give you a break from the strain of having to appear so damn upbeat the whole time.

(Optional, above and beyond the call of duty, friend's job: find you a blind date for the evening who is game enough to play the role of your new paramour. . . Jen once found me a Rent-A-Date with a mere 48 hours notice. I will never be able to repay her.)

All this acting isn't really going to make you feel much better. But we've all seen those women who start crying in the middle of weddings and you know you don't want to be one of them. If you turn the whole thing into a contest to be won, you're going to make it through with a whole lot more dignity.

And, hey, if you can render him speechless and miserable in the process, that's just a little added bonus.

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