On ''Laguna Beach,'' Tessa agonizes over why boyfriend Derek isn't calling or talking to her; meanwhile, Rocky's new ex acts like a jerk

”Laguna Beach”: He’s just not that into you

”Everything’s moving past me, and I’m like sitting here, and I don’t know what to do.” Tessa may not know how to handle boys, but she sure as hell knows how to sum up her problem succinctly.

Apparently heartbreak ran rampant while I was off last week — which is really okay, because that all just sounded annoying, and I’m glad to be here for the messy aftermath. That really is the best part of any split — life is so boring when you’re all happily couple-y. From tragedy comes opportunity, after all. And no one seemed more aware of this than Alex: ”It’s a new start, it’s a new beginning,” he declared at the driving range. (Such golfers, these boys.) He announced that he was ”working on” Lexie and Rachel, though reality threatened to intrude upon that delusional plan when he called Rachel and she sniffed, ”Who is this?” Ah, but his ego was not deterred by such minor impediments. (I admire this, really.) He forged ahead and asked her and Lexie to Chase’s concert, and he was rewarded with a sort-of noncommittal but nonrejecting promise of groups meeting up with groups in the vicinity of the event. Of course, he didn’t hear Lexie’s post-call zinger while she and Rachel discussed his tendency to break up with girls at bonfires and then promptly ask for every other female in sight’s phone number: ”I’m sure he’s gonna creep on some other girl.” Normally I can’t stand Lexie’s blank bitchiness, but now I’m seeing exactly what she’s good for.

Not to mention that oh, holy God I’d rather listen to her scoff around all day than hear poor little Rocky and Tessa continue to analyze Derek’s nontalking to Tessa. I mean, the Alex breakup was harsh, so Rocky gets some time with that. But Derek and Tessa went out for sushi once, and now it’s some epic romance for the ages? At least this reminds me not to ever, ever sound like this while discussing my love life. (Admit it: We’ve all been there. That’s why this is so painful to watch.) Okay, so he didn’t talk to her at the bonfire, and he didn’t return her phone message. Anyone wondering why He’s Just Not That Into You is necessary can stop now. (And yet, interestingly, Chase moseyed on by just long enough to enable Tessa by telling her to chill because there’s a ”three-day rule” on returning calls. Dude, is there a three-day vow of silence in play the instant you actually see a girl in person at a bonfire? ”Hey, Tessa, this is Derek. I really wanted to talk to you during those several hours when we were on the same 500 square feet of beach on Saturday, but I decided to save up everything I wanted to say and tell you now on Tuesday.”)

Rocky, on the other hand, was picking herself up and rebounding quite nicely with my boy Nick W., previously known only as Cameron’s wisecracking sidekick. He was even pretty suave for about three seconds when he picked up Rocky (and perpetual third wheel Tessa, natch) for the concert, telling her (and, yes, Tessa) that they looked nice. Then of course he had to ruin that by adding that they weren’t really wearing concert attire: ”You look like you’re ready to go to a debutante ball or something.” We’ll call it even, though, because I think he actually meant well — and, more important, he accompanied the Rockster at a crucial moment: her first public encounter with an ex.

A very awkward Rocky-Alex brush-by near the door started things off. (And, curiously, neither Lexie nor Rachel was exactly Alex’s date. Or anywhere near him most of the time.) But, hey! There was a special appearance by good old Breanna, who seemed to be there expressly to receive Alex’s proclamation that he had broken up with Rocky. Particularly brutal if you recall that a few episodes ago he was being the sweetest, most supportive boyfriend ever during Rocky’s showdown with the junior Conrad. Far worse, however, was Alex’s outburst — and dramatic exit — upon seeing Rocky with Nick. Total illegal use of the word ”slut.” Multiple times. ”She’s so desperate,” he huffed to his friends as they left. ”It’s so obvious. What a slut.” I don’t think she actually heard him, but the poor thing was still doubled over sobbing in the parking lot after he departed.

And then it was back to — yawn — Tessa the next day. ”I saw Derek, but he didn’t like talk to me.” I knew what was coming next, and so at first I tried to look away from the TV, but I could still hear her calling Derek and demanding that they ”talk.” Oh, Tessa, baby, how many times must I yell this at the screen before it gets through to you? No. No, no, no. Just, no. Someone seriously needs to take this girl’s cell-phone privileges away if she’s going to keep demanding to have talks with guys. Rule that’s much better than the three-day rule: Do not request a talk with any romantic interest unless you have made out with or gone out with him or her a minimum of three times. Preferably more. Any talking that needs to be done otherwise will happen organically and spontaneously and will require no special requests.

The good news is that, once pressured, Derek pulled the trigger and said, ”I think it would be better to just be friends right now.” Bless her heart, she replied, ”Yeah, I know. It’s not good right now anyway.” You think?

Any other thoughts? Do Rocky and Nick have a future? Will Alex ever be able to persuade any other Laguna girl to date him after the way he’s behaved? (There’s always Tessa….)

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