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Loves Me, Loves Me NOT! : Been jilted in love? This his-and-hers guide to surviving the depths of 'the Dump Zone' may be just the antidote you need. : Him: Stay away from country music, especially if you have access to sharp objects.

January 06, 1994|JOHNNY DODD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES: Johnny Dodd is a correspondent in the Los Angeles office of People magazine.

Remember those movies where this guy (usually with a necklace fashioned from femur bones) shoves his hand into another guy's chest, rips out his heart and starts munching on it, ventricle by ventricle? The victim lets out this scream, his eyes spin around, all this stuff shoots out of his nose and then he dies horribly.

If you ask me, he got off pretty easy.

At least he didn't have to listen to garbage from his girlfriend like: "I really hope this won't affect our friendship," or "If you had let me eat your heart sooner, this never would have happened."

Greetings from the Dump Zone--the land where we guy cast-offs in the game of love dwell. It's really not such a bad place. On good days we mope around in our boxers, gingerly probing the gaping hole in our chests with our fingers. On bad days we read Leo Buscaglia or Norman Vincent Peale, stare at old snapshots and rock back and forth.

She and I had been going out for just about forever when she decided to shed a few unsightly pounds by dropping me for a lighter guy.

Since I never could find a listing for a lobotomist in the Yellow Pages, I had no other option but to mine all the really deep and twisted thoughts swirling around in my head. Slowly, instead of wallowing in self pity, there arose in me a deep desire to help my fellow dumpees. In other words, I decided to milk my personal tragedy for everything it was worth.

What follows are 10 helpful hints practically guaranteed to allow you to "round the corner" (see Tip 5) and embark on one of the limited lifestyle possibilities open to guy dump victims.

Tip 1: For the first three to 48 months, stay very far away from country music, especially if you have access to sharp, pointed objects. (Bonus Tip: If you happen to notice that Valentine's Day is looming near, slip into a coma for two or three weeks.)

Tip 2: In conversation don't be tempted to use you-know-who's name or "my ex-girlfriend." Instead, refer to her as the Dark One; She Beast; Cruella, the Archfiend, or She-in-Whose-Womb-Surely-Dwells-a-Colony-of-Dysfunctional-Sea-Monkeys.

Tip 3: Have the U.S. Postal Service put a mail-block on your address. This will help prevent your sending a certain someone the horrifically scathing letter that even your mother says she deserves. A mail-block could save you upward of, let's say, $842 in UPS charges when the by-now psychotically enraged you-know-who sends all your belongings to you C.O.D.

Tip 4: The 122nd time your well-meaning friends use the word "process," as in "Gee, Johnny, you must process all those feelings," make the veins in your neck bulge out, make a fist and announce: "Hey, buddy, process this, why don'tcha." That'll be the last time they butt into your business.

Tip 5: Post-dump existence requires the ability to comprehend metaphors. "Rounding the corner" is another phrase you may hear quite often as in "The first step in rounding the corner is to find the metaphorical keys to the proverbial car." This can sometimes be tough since Ms. Sunshine probably gave them to her new beau. Anyhow, once you get the car running, so to speak, gun the engine and drive like hell. When you finally spot that allegorical corner, slam on the brakes, crank the steering wheel and go into a power slide. If you're lucky, you'll slam into a gasoline tanker truck and there'll be this real cool explosion.

Tip 6: To calculate just how long you'll need to round the corner, figure on it taking half the time you spent in the relationship. To determine how that corresponds to beer consumption (a post-dump necessity), use this simple formula: Number of beers (number of years in relationship + ex-girlfriend's weight) x 365,000. (For mixed drinks, use the same formula, only divide ex-girlfriend's weight by alcohol proof.)

Tip 7: Avoid the Rebound Syndrome, especially if it involves a female wrestler named Chocko. Possible exceptions to that rule can be made for Kathy Ireland, Heidi the Tool Time Girl on "Home Improvement," and Trixie from "Speed Racer."

Tip 8: During those inevitable telephone tiffs following D-Day, remember to get the most out of your receiver. Don't be tempted to simply slam down the phone whenever the conversation turns pathetically ugly--which it inevitably will. Do that and all she'll hear is an insipid little click, hardly the eardrum-splitting explosion the situation warrants. Solution: Connect an industrial-grade air horn to a stadium-size amplifier and wait for the appropriate moment. You'll probably only get one chance, so timing is important.

Tip 9: Smile at life and it smiles back at you. Scowl at life and even sneer a little, and women come out of the woodwork. Before you know it, they will be buying you Alfa Romeos and paying for your beer. I'm not really sure if this works, but I overheard two guys in an elevator swear it happened to one of their buddies.

Tip 10: Always ignore those post-dump survival-tip lists. The only people they remotely help are the hacks who write them and the bank accounts they love. Deep down, they are no doubt praying that you-know-who will read it, decide she's made a mistake and then, two or three months later, she'll extricate that heart all over again. Only this time, instead of her hands, she'll use a bazooka. Jeez, some guys never learn.

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