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10 ways to take a break from a breakup
newly single? use your spare time wisely
by michael d. driscoll

There is nothing I can write here that would be news to anyone who has been through a breakup. It happens. It sucks. Life goes on. And slow songs really do carry much more personal meaning for me these days. I’ve discovered through Milli Vanilli to blame it on the rain, and not to look back (you can never look back) from Don Henley. Gloria Gaynor advises that I will survive while Neil Diamond echoes my feeling that it’s still cold under blue skies when love is on the rocks.

But when I’m not biding my time in Aisle 6 at the drug store searching for meaning in my life to the Muzak version of Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” I’ve developed a steady routine of equally meaningless tasks to help me take a break from my breakup.

1. Play Guess the Side Effects
By now you’ve probably noticed the addition of side effects towards the end of televised drug commercials. It seems anytime the ailment for which a drug is used pharmaceutical companies are required to make known the unhealthiness that can surface when trying to become, well, healthy.

The delicate humor of these commercials shouldn't be lost on anyone. I’ve even found myself trying to guess what side effect each medication will have on a body before it is revealed by the narrator. Horrifically, we can expect anal bleeding and/or dizziness as side effects for some of the more popular medications on the market. And that’s just great. Drug companies have cured your migraine in time for you to concentrate on your vertigo and bleeding ass for which there are more remedies with more side effects.

One commercial in particular boasts the healing power of Migrainex to alleviate migraines, allowing the cured to lead a healthy lifestyle that includes the wearing of plaid Capri pants on a bicycle built for two--because that’s what healthy people do on TV. Having never suffered from a migraine I deduced the side effect might be loss of appetite or sleepiness because it seemed reasonable to me. Never would I have thought a side effect for a migraine medication would be of all things a migraine.

This begs the question: if you have a migraine, and you take a medication that may cause migraines, how would you know if you are experiencing the side effect? You already have a migraine!

2. Watch “So Graham Norton” on BBC America
Any program with an adult content warning played before the show’s introduction is a time-waster I enthusiastically support. Norton is Britain’s openly gay talk show host whose sole purpose in life seems to be embarrassing his guests and exposing the studio audience. When he’s not showering his skits with innuendo or having Joan Rivers pretend to sell dildos in the shape of a tongue, he’s making his staff take pictures of women without underwear and posting them on a large easel for audience commentary.

3. Compare life to contestants on a reality TV show
No matter how low I feel I know I’m not hidden in a village on the coast of Australia eating bug puss or sitting in a room of catty women fighting over someone I met yesterday. Nonetheless, when all hope is lost I turn to reality television as escape from real life.

4. Become the eyes and ears of my apartment complex
When in doubt, eavesdrop.

5. Drink until I think I'm fabulous and then order a double.
For years my father has enjoyed his gin martinis even though I have publicly likened them to ethylene glycol with a dash of 409. This changed the week I became single again and now friends are starting to see my resemblance to Mr. Hanky’s wife. Like the popular South Park character, you can’t pry that shit out of my hands.

Unexpectedly, I’m easing into my new love of antifreeze and all-purpose cleaner by ordering it dirty, which means I get an appetizer of olives. I feel like I’ve wasted my money before now by ordering drinks without an edible garnish. Long live breakfast!

6. Read The Wisdom of No Escape
She had me at maitri.

Only in America can a poor, black child grow up to be a rich white woman (Michael Jackson) and a grandmother-turned-Buddist-nun teach me to meditate (Pema Chodron). This book teaches readers to befriend themselves and accept their faults as a means to achieve “loving-kindness.”

I want to be my friend, but I know how I get.

7. Buy groceries and then go out to eat
We all do it. Don’t judge.

8. Call the exes.
There’s nothing better for recovering from a failed relationship like revisiting previously failed relationships. While on my path to “loving-kindness” I have found two things work well for me. First, the best way to get over someone is to get under someone, and secondly, it’s fun to call an ex when they’re on a date.

A recent phone conversation with an ex began, “Hey! This is Michael. Driscoll. Michael Driscoll. Hey Hey…long time no talk. How are you? Tell me what’s going on in your life. Tell me everything right now.” It’s funny how an unexpected phone call at an inopportune time can freak someone out. But hey, some people prank-call strangers. I’m more comfortable pretending to catch up with people I've dumped.

For one unsuspecting victim I experienced an uncomfortable pause and looked for an opportunity get out of the conversation by saying faintly, “I’m driving through a part of town where I get very little signal, so if we get disconnected I’ll call you later” and then proceeded to hang up my home phone almost immediately.

9. Start a journal
Someone once said that if we don’t remember history we’re doomed to pleat it. Well, pleats or no pleats my friend, I want to remember this glorious time in my life, so I started a journal.

At first, the writing was awkward and cryptic as I tried to remember what it is like to hold something called a “pen.” My life has become paperless and pens are so pre-Apple IIe.

10. Ask for the veggie menu, then order a steak
I can only have a limited amount of fun at home before I have to take my show on the road, so on a recent trip to a groovy eatery I requested the vegetarian menu. Our waitress was named something like Summer-breeze or Summer-wind and she sported the stereotypical ‘60s frock and matching hemp accessories. She was not amused by my choice of a medium rare steak over the mostly tofu and oatmeal options presented in the “Healthy Heart and Aura” menu. Looking at her one shoe, I figured she was accustomed to disappointment and stuck with my order.

“You’re one of those ‘vegetarians of convenience’ aren’t you,” she replied in disgust. “You only eat veggie meals when it’s convenient. You people give me such a headache.”

Not to be outdone by someone who eats hay and lemongrass, I asked her if she was familiar with Migrainex as a pain reliever.


Curious about everything, Michael plans to do it all. A ruffian by day and a lover by night he's managed to go where no one else has gone. His slight forgetfulness means he is curious about everything and plans to do it all. A ruffian by day and a lover by night he's managed...

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tracey kelley
5.30.03 @ 12:09a

Ooo, you're a sassy one.

Thank God.

The side effects of pharmaceuticals is a pricelss observation. I love the sotto voice used to convey this tidy bit of information, too.

heather millen
5.30.03 @ 12:19a

Welcome to #5, my friend, it's gotten me through many a heartache, headache, ear ache... really just about any ache you can think of.

Next time, go extra dirty. With three olives. (Yes, I'm still talking about #5 here.)


matt morin
5.30.03 @ 12:20a

Buy groceries, then go out to eat.

That is the funniest thing I've ever read. Classic.

robert melos
5.30.03 @ 12:56a

Milli Vanilli? Michael! Don't do it! You're young! You've got plenty of life left to live. There are hundreds of fish in sea waiting to be dumped by a guy as great as you.

For God's sake! Stop listening to 80s music. That'll bring you down faster than a Phobe Cates film retrospective.

michael driscoll
5.30.03 @ 8:19a

Matt: Not only did I buy groceries one night and then go out to eat, but I did this just before attending a dinner party where I ate yet again. Training for the bike ride has hijacked my metabolism!

michelle von euw
5.30.03 @ 9:21a

I definitely laughed out loud at #7 (because, yeah, I'm the queen of that). And Guess the Side Affects is too advanced for me -- I have to play Guess the Illness the fancy-named drug is trying to cure. Hay fever? Insomnia? Male Pattern Baldness? They all recover with those Capri pants and bikes!

erik myers
5.30.03 @ 9:40a

I hope I never have to take a medication where the side effect is Capri pants.

michael driscoll
5.30.03 @ 9:44a

You'd look so cute in a plaid pair. Don't deny the power of Capri pants--they're the new black.

sarah ficke
5.30.03 @ 9:48a

Erik, don't listen to Michael. Capri pants are the new Satan and that's all there is to it.

What I love about the commericials is the lovely, happy, soothing music they play as the narrator murmurs in a smooth voice "This may cause anal bleeding, nausea, dry mouth, and ulcers."

And I love Graham Norton. American TV could learn something from him.


jeff miller
5.30.03 @ 10:57a

I love number 8. Fantastic. If my wife ever leaves me, I'm going to start torturing the exes right away. The cellphone rap is just genius.

Great Column!

heather millen
5.30.03 @ 1:16p

You're all wrong. I'm in retail and I can tell ya, capri pants are the new shorts. It's all the buzz.

I don't abuse exes on the cell. Just currents and friends.

michael driscoll
5.30.03 @ 2:36p

Capri or not Capri. That is not the question. Amazingly, women with the "not so fresh feeling" end up wearing Capri pants on the beach when they've recovered from smelly crotch (technical term).

russ carr
5.30.03 @ 3:20p

Laura Petrie was always fresh.

robert melos
5.30.03 @ 9:52p

But Laura Petrie was only allowed to wear Capri pants or slacks in one scene per show.

michael driscoll
5.30.03 @ 9:59p

Who is Laura Petrie and why are we discussing her hoo-ha?

russ carr
5.30.03 @ 10:45p

I can tell Robert and I are the old men around here. Laura Petrie was Rob Petrie's wife on The Dick Van Dyke Show, as played by Mary Tyler Moore, back when MTM was a hottie.

michael driscoll
5.30.03 @ 11:02p

I am all the more educated now on Laura Petrie, her Capri pants, and her fresh hoo-ha.

russ carr
5.30.03 @ 11:28p

Of course, as I should have stated to the estimable Mr. Melos:

"Oh, Rob!"

sarah ficke
5.31.03 @ 9:47a

I knew what you boys were talking about, but I couldn't find anything more to say on the subject. Except, of course, that she was pretty hot for a black-and-white tv housewife.

robert melos
5.31.03 @ 10:15p

I find it sad to think there are generations who do not know Mary Tyler Moore as Laura Petrie. It's also disturbing because it makes me feel old.

tracey kelley
6.1.03 @ 8:45p

Useless trivia stuck in my brain: Did you know that MTM was ordered by the network to bind her boobs, because they were considered "too big for family television"?

michael driscoll
6.1.03 @ 8:56p

Didn't she reveal her boobs in a movie within the last few years? Like Celine Dion...it's all coming back to me now.

robert melos
6.2.03 @ 11:58p

I think that was Julie Andrews in "SOB". One of the funniest scenes I've seen in years. However, the only laugh in that film.

michael driscoll
7.31.03 @ 11:03p

I'm doing #5 tonight. :)

robert melos
8.1.03 @ 2:45a

Michael, I read that and thought of robots.

Hang in there, and remember at all times you are fabulous.

heather millen
8.1.03 @ 10:52a

Mike, I so wish you would've been in town when I was there last weekend. I would've delved into #5 with you headstrong and never for one second let up on reminding you how fabulous you are.

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