By Ken Hegan for The National Post

Feels like I’ve just been punched in the gut.

After six years of marriage, my wife and I separated. It’s an amicable split, but still devastating. I barely smelled it coming. Now the woman I vowed to spend my life with has boxed her stockings and moved away.

Our traumatized collie clearly blames me. I can see it in his eyes. While I bender-drank for days, he just lay on the couch, glaring between sighs.

Meanwhile, I’m struggling to survive the only way I know how:

Week 1: Beer.

Week 2: Buy giant flat-screen TV.

Week 3: Order Solo Dinners for Chumps cookbook (a must to avoid scurvy).

Then, in a moment of sobriety, I realized I can go one of three ways: (1) Sad Troll, (2) Jolly Drunk or (3) Successful Enlightened Man. I’m keen on (2), but as a favour to my mom, I am giving (3) a go. I’ll skip the whining and decide to be happy.

First step: Must. Meet. People. And by people, I mean smart, funny women who are irresistibly attracted to emotionally dented hermits.

I’ve never been afraid to ask for directions, so I went to the bookstore and searched through acres of self-help books but couldn’t find any survival books for separated/divorced men. Perhaps there’s no market for them because men thrive after divorce. (But I doubt it. Studies show married men are twice as happy as divorced men.)

So in lieu of a handbook for guys, I picked up How to Be a Super Hot Woman: 339 Tips to Make Every Man Fall in Love with You and Every Woman Envy You.

Not an obvious choice, I know. But I’m going to take their best advice, flip it around, and become a Super Hot Man. Why not?

The authors’ names, Mandy Simons & Emily J. Terry, seem quaintly Anglo, like they live in Connecticut and drink chamomile tea. But their chapter headings reveal a refreshingly ESL esthetic: “Get Tan Tips;” “Look Skinnier Tips;” “Seduce Men Tips.”

And the cover babe’s stilettos and short-shorts may be a clue that this dating bible is written by a pair of finger-snapping hoochie mamas. All the better: I could use a bit of their pizzazz. Will it rub off? Fingers crossed.

Page 1, Tip 1: “Dress in colourful clothes. They bring positive mood to all people around you.” Well, I certainly want to bring positive mood to all people. I look in my closet: nothing but bleak browns and undertaker greys. Note to self: buy pink shirt.

Their makeup and hair tips sound great but are a bit of a stretch for me: “You must smell like a flower. Perfume shopping is a big fun.”

“Bleaching eyebrows is risky if you try it alone.”

I strike pay dirt with their Self-Esteem Tips: “All people have some nice qualities. Maybe you are funny or pretty?” Now we’re talking! In very special lighting conditions, I perhaps am sometime both things. (Note: starting to talk like the authors. I will be Super Hot in no time.)

I love their Smile Tips: “It’s not bad also to pretend to smile because when you pretend it can eventually lead you to a good mood … even if it is not true, show others that you live in a pink world.”

I try to smile at the mirror. Ugh. Half grin, half grimace. But tip No. 105 has that one covered: “You can make your fake smile look more realistic by raising your eyebrows.” Cool. I give it a shot and look seriously deranged.

Time to start online dating! Out of nowhere, a fun new Facebook friend invites me for a drink. I hesitate. She’s smart and funny, but my gurus warn me not to rush into anything: “There is nothing as tacky as jumping from relationship to relationship as a leech jumps from host to host.” Then again, they also say, “Try to accept every invitation” and “Just be yourself but be nicer.” So I tell her, “Sure, I love drinking.”

We agree to meet at a hotel bar the next night. I spend the entire day getting ready. And by date time, I am looking fine, girl. Picture me in a hot pink dress shirt (Tip No. 208: “Avoid black on a first date”), and my best butt-hugging jeans, but not too low-riding (Tip No. 117: “too low a rise can lead to belly pooch hanging over the top of your jeans, which is not pretty”). Plus my hands are manicured and my cheeks are soft and shiny (Tip No. 18: “Don’t forget to moisturizer”).

In the taxi, I study my gurus’ Arrive to a Party Like a Diva Tips. They say, “Stand in the middle of the door frame. Stay there for a few seconds and give a slow glance across the room. Feel confident and sexy.” So I do it.

Then I lock eyes with my date. She looks amazing. I employ tip No. 272: “Kiss with your eyes first.” She smiles, jumps up and gives me a hug.

My heart races. It’s the moment of truth. I raise my eyebrows and pretend to smile.

— Ken Hegan