I couldn't speak—my throat had a honest-to-goodness lump and my eyes were swollen. When I got home I went straight to my room. Upon emerging, my father had a hug waiting and had taken down each and every photo of me and my fiancé, replacing them with crazy family pictures. I have no doubt that my mother was also instrumental in this quick shift of goods.
That day I decided that if men could use women, women could do the same, so I did—many times and without remorse. About once a week my father would remind me to be careful and ask me to remember that all men were not like my fiancé. Looking back, I think he was trying to tell me to have faith. Read: The Bad Girl's Breakup Rx
After my dates I would come home and tell my dad how it went, including the small idiosyncrasies that made it impossible for me to see the man again. Wrinkled shirt, bad glasses, expectations that I would pay for his meal as well as my own... you know the routine.
In February of 1996, after being stood up on Valentine's Day, I decided that I was finished with men. Once again, my father encouraged me to be safe and to be myself. He reminded me that my value was not measured by whether or not I had a man in my life; I could and would be successful without one.
One evening, I met a gorgeous but obnoxious cowboy at a bar. We had both knocked down a few, and I danced with all his friends. I was sporting the flirtatious attitude you get when you put on your dancing boots. (Don't pretend that you don't know what this is!) While I danced, he drank every beer I left on the table.