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Single White Nerd: The Break-Up Bookshelf

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a blogumn by Michael Kass

Photo by John Buckler
Photo by John Buckler

From time to time, I find myself in the terrifying position of “dating” someone. This happens when things progress past “hanging out,” but have not yet reached the “going steady” stage. And it is usually at the “dating” point that I realize that I want to extricate myself from the nascent relationship before it gets to the letter jacket exchanging, key-giving, watching each other pee point.

Now a normal, well adjusted person would simply sit down with the other person and have The Talk. “Gosh,” that person would say, “You’re swell. But this isn’t for me. I’m not worried about you, you’re so smart and pretty. I need someone less smart and pretty because I’m so insecure. Now leave before I start to cry.”

Something like that. I am neither normal nor well-adjusted. Add to that a high, almost crippling degree of conflict aversion and. . .well, the termination of a dating relationship can create a bit of a pickle. Or it could create a bit of a pickle if I hadn’t recently hit on my latest Fantastical Scheme. I call it “The Break-up Bookshelf.”

Most of the women who have the misfortune to date me tend to gravitate towards my bookshelf. There they find an eclectic array of theatre, philosophy, fiction and travel writing with the occasional DVD box set thrown in to switch it up. It took me years to cultivate a book shelf that reveals, obscures, tantalizes and encourages in equal measure. Anyway, the ladies dig it.

“Wow,” they think, “you’re so enlightened and sensitive, but you also like mystery books. I must get with you biblically now or at least entertain the idea while I eat your food.”

Here’s how “The Break-Up Bookshelf” works. All of those tantalizing, revealing, etc. titles are swapped out for books that send a single clear message: This man is a disaster–RUN! Books like “The Tucker Max Stories,” “Oedipus: Hero to Mother Lovers,” “The Sociopath Next Door.” To heighten the effect, leave a couple of the books strewn about, face down, opened to particularly revealing passages. Go to the bathroom. Give the target of your machinations plenty of time to “snoop” through the “evidence.” Odds are that she’ll give YOU the break-up talk and you’ll be home free!

Of course, there’s also the chance that the plan could backfire. That she could see your books as a cry for help, an opportunity to fix a broken man-toy. Then you might actually have to talk, communicate, share thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Best not to think about that scenario.

Anyway–I’m going to test my new idea for you. This week I have a lady-friend coming over for dinner. I will cook a tasty chicken dish involving wine sauce. There will be salad, candles and soft music. My behavior will tell a story of romance and seduction. But there, in the corner, my bookshelf will tell a different tale. One of dysfunction, anger management issues, and an unhealthy attachment to childhood toys.

I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, may your relationships be functional and your bookshelves fully stocked.