Every woman knows this story.  Girl meets boy.  Girl falls
in love with boy.  Boy disappears without a word, making
said girl feel like a disposable razor.  It’s a story Ericka
Langford has heard of but never experienced, until now.

After six weeks of deepening the butt imprint in her couch,
Ericka’s best friend drags her to an adult arcade in Kansas
City for a night of fun.  Instead, Ericka runs into her Ex –
and the son of a bitch is with another woman.  
Devastated, she reviews her past relationships and comes to a few
conclusions.

1.  Every time a relationship ends, she lowers her
expectations.  Now the bar is so low a dachshund
can reach it, though she has yet to meet a man
who can.  

2.  At thirty-four, she knows the dating pool is
murky, if not stagnant in places.  Most of the men
she meets are married and lie about it, serial
womanizers, or come with so much baggage she doesn’t want to touch
them with a pair of tongs.

3.  All of the men she’s dated have one thing in common.  They’ve been
jerks, not that they seemed like jerks at first.  

Ericka decides she needs to make a few changes in her life.  As a strong,
independent woman, she doesn’t need a man to feel complete.  However,
she is sick of going home to an empty house and tired of missing the feel
of strong arms around her as she falls asleep.  Besides, cooking for one
sucks, especially since it means she ends up eating the same meal
morning, noon, and night for a week.  

She needs to find the person she used to be, the one who doesn’t fall for
idiots and stands up for what she believes in.  More importantly, she
needs to find a way to see past a jerks camouflage so she can get what she
really wants – a functional relationship with a non-jerk.  With the help
of her quirky girlfriends, she starts mending her broken heart.  She also
starts a list of jerk traits – The Jerk List.  The plan is to expose herself to
as many jerks as possible so that when she is ready to date again, she
doesn’t waste time on men who can’t help her reach her goal of having a
functional relationship.

Her new neighbor, Scott, is a fountain of information, starting when he
mows his lawn way too early in the morning on Ericka’s day off and she
disables his lawnmower wearing nothing more than a tank-top and her
underwear, a fact he won’t let her forget.

Derek, an old flame, returns when he finds out she’s single.  He boosts
her self-confidence even while trying to get back into her bed.  Then
there are the men she runs into on the internet dating sites, guys like
Assdigger69, a nerd who talks about coffin insurance during a speed-
dating event, and losers who think fifty, rich, and Viagra does equal a
regular thirty something man.   

She also learns a few things about herself.  Strength doesn’t always mean
standing alone.  A gas-powered margarita mixer and a few Gonorrhea
songs can make her laugh even when she’s waiting to see if her stupidity
has killed her.  And thanks to surprising a goose on her nest in the
middle of the night after a blotched robbery, she learns that friends help
each other even if it means going to jail.  

Most importantly, she learns that everyone is a jerk in some fashion, and
the key to happiness is not settling, but finding someone important
enough their quirks don’t matter.
Jackie Bannon
Looking for love and stepping into everything else
Dog image was obtained from Julien Tromeur at www.stock.xchang.com