Friday, February 03, 2006

The Dark Side of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day. A day Hallmark and many others has convinced us means romance and love, a day to show someone you care about them through some sort of memorable occasion. It’s synonymous with candy, hearts, and roses; Cupid and Aphrodite; love. All things romantic.

But it also has a dark side. Ask any woman whose heart has been broken just days before the date because her partner felt that they couldn’t live with the lie during V-day. Ask any man who has been left by his partner for another. Ask any girl who has stared at those long aisles of pink and red, dripping in chocolate and flowers and realized that the longest lasting relationship she’s ever had has been with her heating pad.

Valentine’s Day: it’s not all candlelight, chocolate and oral pleasure.

The Boss and I, being the bitter, jaded book-hags that we are, decided to this dark side must be acknowledged. People needed to know that they weren’t alone, that others cringed at the very word Valentine and desperately wanted the fourteenth to pass without incident. For in our bookstore the start of February was heralded with the sounds of hearts breaking across the state, and slowly they began to drag themselves towards the self-help section.

“He broke up with me because he said I was too old for him,” one woman told me.

“She said I just didn’t understand her needs,” another man said.

For every perky couple browsing the relationship section for the newest book on sexual positions for the romantically inclined, there’s some poor soul limping into the store with a general look of “what the hell just happened?” mixed with “I was just hit by a semi doing sixty around a steep curve and it rolled over my ass.”

It was for these folks that we created the “Dark Side of Valentine’s Day” end cap. It’s not on any promotional planner and it doesn’t follow any planogram laid out by the company. It’s just a collection of titles we think call to those who’ve been through the hell of being dumped right before Valentine’s Day.

The first year we decorated it with the classic break-up lines despite the company’s strict “no handmade signs” policy, or slap-in-the-face comebacks to the “love lines” of all time.

“I feel like you see the real me.”
“Yeah, and I’d like to see less of you.”

“It’s not you. It’s me. Well, okay, it’s you.”

And so and so on. Our top seller that year was Why Do Men Love Bitches? by Sherry Argov. The next year it was He’s Just Not That Into You. This year, in an attempt to add a little humor, we put up the Sweet Potato Queens’ Wedding Planner/Divorce Guide, and we’ve seen a spike in sales for It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken.

There are other books on the end cap, other trends I’ve noticed, but I’ve got to get ready for work, so instead I’ll ask y’all for some input.

What’s your top breakup book of all time?

What’s the pick-up line/breakup line that makes you cringe and your own sarcastic response? You know, the one you are thinking in your head as it happens, or come up with later when you are getting blotto on wine and pouring your heart out to your friends.

This is equal opportunity and open to both sexes, so bring on the answers. There are still eleven more days until Valentine’s Day for me to get this end cap right.


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lady t said...

Glad to hear that I'm not the only one who dreads Valentine's Day,the one holiday that underscores your mating status with bold red(do enjoy the excuse to eat chocolate,tho)and don't get me started on the self-help section! I share George Carlin's views on that whole subgenre:)

Anyway,a good break-up book would be Wuthering Heights. Nobody's happy in that entire story and misery loves company as they say! I prefer Jane Eyre but she gets her man at the end(those Bronte gals were ubermoody-Tim Burton should probaly make his next animated feature about them).

Bookseller Chick said...

Ah Jason, I'm pretty sure I'm just a flash in the pan...I only wish I knew which one! Numbers have returned to normal today, so we'll see how this all works out. If anything it will give me more opportunities to hound, er I mean, help people.

Ooh, Lady T, so true, and you are not alone. If you're going to be depressed go all the way. Those Brontes were a weird group though, have you ever read the Bronte Myth? Interesting stuff.

Nicole said...

I think I need to stop reading V-Day posts. I really honestly have nothing against it and no bad memories. Only really good ones. Ah well.

christine fletcher said...

Love is Hell, by Matt Groening.

Or Anna Karenina.

I don't care for Valentine's day, but happily it's been many years since I've had a really lousy one. Knock wood.

Bookseller Chick said...

Nicole you are lucky, and I hope that never changes. I have some very good V-day memories as well, but it's not for everyone. We also have a very Pro-Valentine's Day endcap.

Christine, I hope your run of luck continues and excellent choices. Nothing says failed love like Anna Karenina.

Anonymous said...

My favorite Valentine's Day book is The Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love, particularly the Five Men You Must Have In Your Life At All Times -- very good advice for the modern woman.

As for the worst break-up line ... How about, "You're such a wonderful person, I'm sure you'll find someone soon." I have to admit I've never found a good riposte to that one -- anyone have suggestions?

Bethany K. Warner said...

Valentine's?... Oh, you mean Singles' Awareness Day.
Since I just read it, it seems like a good (by good, I mean "dark" and "vengeful") prelude to the season, I'll go for "Gentlemen & Players" by Joanne Harris.

Bookseller Chick said...

Anon, I love the Sweet Potato Queens just about as much as I love my mashed potatos and homestyle gray (which is to say that I like'em a whole damn lot). As for that break-up line, I think the only follow-up possible is a cool, "Yes, because it's obvious I didn't find that someone in you," before you slide from your bar stool/chair/couch/whatever and walk out the door (or kick them out if it's your house). You must be at least 200 feet away, or out of viewing distance before you cry.

Bethany, ooh, I wanted to read that one. Will now get it from the bookstore in celebration of the coming day. Until then I'm going to try to find Singles' Awareness Day t-shirts.

Bethany K. Warner said...

While you're looking for the shirts, steer clear of "Smittens" to dual-person mittens, that by design are red and vaguely heart-shaped so you and your honey can hold hands in the cold. (gag)

Celia said...
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