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Image: Bob Guiney's book
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msnbc.com contributor
updated 11/10/2003 11:10:38 AM ET 2003-11-10T16:10:38

If you’ve been watching ABC’s “The Bachelor,” you may be confused by the rise of its star, Bob Guiney. Perhaps you have spent many nights staring at the ceiling, thinking, “I, too, can do The Running Man for eight or nine steps before becoming winded. I, too, have permed hair shipped in from the last season of ‘The Brady Bunch.’ I, too, can work a turtleneck like nobody’s business. Why Bob, and not me?”

FORTUNATELY, you don’t have to agonize much longer. In his new book, “What a Difference a Year Makes,” Bob recounts his journey out of the pain and indignity of divorce and into the graceful and welcoming arms of reality television. Prepare to learn something, because a guy who has spent the fall season squeezing women like tomatoes at a vegetable stand is about to tell you how he learned what’s really important.

Bob’s story is roughly this: He first cackled his way into America’s collective heart as one of the eligible Bachelors on the lone season of “The Bachelorette.” He was “the funny one” among the 25 stiffs who courted Trista Rehn, which is a little like being “the understated one” on an episode of “Jackass.” Trista, in turn, had been one of the rejected girls on the original version of “The Bachelor.” Now, having been turned down by Trista, Bob is back to be the man on the other side of the roses.

Are you following? See, he is doing unto others as Trista did unto him, and as was previously done unto her. In some production offices, this is what passes for irony. Hey, what are you going to do? Writers are expensive.

So now, inevitably, there is Bachelor Bob’s book. In the words of the ponderous quote that adorns the inside of the book jacket: “Sometimes what feels like an end is actually a beginning. And that’s when the real work starts.”

While that’s a serviceable description of how life feels, it’s a far better description of how reading the book feels. Nevertheless, it is possible to mine a fair amount of rather pithy advice from this slim 158-page tome. Thoroughly reading Bachelor Bob’s book might well be the most valuable 20 minutes of your life. He has much to teach.

DIVORCE BY POST-IT NOTE

Be prepared for unexpected adversity. Bob was once a college backup quarterback. Thus, as he explains, many people assumed that the world was laid out before him — a banquet for the taking, as it traditionally is for college backup quarterbacks. Even better, he married a woman named Jennifer who loved him even though he was in a band called “Fat Amy.”

Sadly, the marriage didn’t last, and Jennifer appears in the book as an ephemeral ideal floating through Bob’s life only to tragically slip through his fingers.Well, except in one chapter where she’s sort of treacherous and Bob seems to imply that she lied to all their friends about the circumstances of the divorce. But, you know, consistency is the hobgoblin of little Bachelors, after all.

At any rate, Bob rebounded from these setbacks, despite a knee injury. So if you ever find yourself divorced and limping, don’t give up hope. Fame may be right around the corner.

Look for that silver lining. The story of Bob’s divorce would look a little pathetic to many people. You see, one day, Bob came home to find that Jennifer had disappeared, and qualified herself for an award for Most Unexpected Use of Office Supplies by leaving him . . . a “Dear Bob” yellow sticky note.

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Cold? Yes, but at least if Bob ever wanted to be reminded that she was gone, he could move the note anywhere and it would hold fast.

A major plot point in the book — like “Rosebud” big, or “I see dead people” big — is the fact that Bob walked around for long and agonizing months thinking that Jennifer had signed the note “J,” only to later look again and see that she in fact signed it in full — “Jennifer,” which made him feel a lot better about the whole thing.

This ‘J/Jennifer” epiphany has something to do with seeing things as they really are or some such, and while Bob’s comfort at this revelation is baffling at first glance, his persistent optimism is the mark of greatness. Or possibly intoxication.

HANGIN’ WITH THE WEAZ

Try to get some friends with bitchin’ nicknames. Bob has friends with names like “Silky G.”

In fact, in the acknowledgements, you will find the following list of associates: “Dok, Weaz, Kipp, Yam, K. Steele, Looch, Rza, Roach, Chrissy, Casey, Jimmer, Ozzy, and Jacko.”

Not for Bob the Daves, Joes, and Steves of the world. It’s part of valuing yourself and never settling for less than you deserve — why would you have dinner with the kind of clowns you know today when you could be hanging with Looch and Jimmer?

So one step on your road to being more like Bob might be asking your friends how they would feel about being assigned pseudonyms. Surely there’s a prospective “Roach” in your crowd somewhere. They may resist, but if they won’t get on board, they’re holding you back. Kipp is out there waiting — go get him!

WHO’S CRYIN’ NOW?

Spend a lot of time listening to Journey. For whatever reason, Journey plays an major role in the redemption of Bachelor Bob. It turns out that Bob can almost believe that the song “Don’t Stop Believin’” was written about him and his awesome friends. (You know, Weaz and Yam and whatnot.)

He even recounts singing Journey songs himself, both on the first night of “The Bachelorette” and at a party his friends throw him to cheer him up on his former anniversary. The book doesn’t even cover the fact that he sang a Journey song during a date with one of the rejectees on “The Bachelor” — that’s a special bonus for the narrow segment of Bob’s broad-based readership that is made up of “Bachelor” fans, I suppose.

It seems that at all the important junctures in Bob’s life, Steve Perry has been there, like Bob’s personal Jiminy Cricket, only with longer hair. And you know, it’s no accident that the band is named Journey, either. Bob wouldn’t be where he is today if he had frittered away his time listening to a band called Stagnate.

Don’t get mixed up with complicated women. Bob thinks the guy should always be the one to propose. Bob thinks it was “symbolic” that his wife didn’t take his name. Bob says affectionately, with a rueful little head-shake you can almost see on the page, that “Midwestern women can be tough.” (My guess is that he wanted to say “feisty,” but he had trouble spelling it.)

On the other hand, of course, Bob recently dumped a woman on the show because she was 35 (he’s 32) and admitted that she wanted to have kids within the next couple of years. Traditional, but not all tie-me-down about it — that’s the woman for Bob.

TV OR NOT TV

Don’t underestimate the nexus between love and television. Unsurprisingly, Bob thinks going on television is a swell way to meet people. It’s just like any other kind of relationship situation with cameras and group dates and a regularly scheduled public ceremony where you reject people you’ve slept with. It’s not like it’s weird or anything.

In fact, Bob’s philosophy would seem to encourage viewers to take seriously any feelings they may have developed for him while watching him on TV. He certainly seems to have developed feelings for Trista before he ever met her.

When he saw her on television talking about how important it is to have faith that you will one day meet the right person, that sustained him, even before he knew that she would one day personally dump him on TV in favor of several guys so sleazy that they actually left slime trails everywhere they went. What’s more, he and Trista are still friends, and Bob isn’t at all bitter that she didn’t pick him.

Assuming that Bob’s bachelorettes take the same view, I’m sure that scattered in among Weaz and Dok and Ozzy, you will someday find three or four of the women Bob has given a little squeeze and decided weren’t quite ripe. They’ll all be hanging out at Looch’s house . . . singing “Open Arms” . . . watching “The Bachelor VIII” . . . and Bob will be there, rocking out with whichever woman is lucky enough to land him.

And who knows? If you follow all his advice, you might be there, too.Linda Holmes is a freelance writer in Bloomington, Minn.

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