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Love Tactics & Valentine's Day Wishes

by Mary Chase
Posted on February 15, 2020

This Valentine’s Day I celebrate a decades-long love affair with the instructional manual Love Tactics: How to Win the One You Want. I bought this gem when I was in high school at the Army base PX overseas where I grew up. I'm certain I bought it very sincerely and without irony, having never had a boyfriend and never been kissed (without it being a dare anyway, but that’s a story for another post). I remember reading it with reverence. Like it could change my life. I don't think I ever put any of the advice into action, thank goodness, because it’s terrible, terrible advice. Advice like, you're the drug dealer. Give them a little love for free until they're addicted then take it away.

I grew up a little, but still took the book with me to college because surely it would be vital in securing my incredibly-useful theater degree (and securing a cute college boyfriend). And lo and behold (yep, I just used an old Middle English abbreviation for look; I saved us half a syllable of reading, but then added all this to explain, so maybe not real a net win), I was able to use it as the basis for what I was sure was a scathing performance piece on love for my Gender in Performance Studies class. At this point, I'd had all the experience of one very sweet, timid boyfriend who did nothing that required feeling scathing about anything, I assure you, but still I was scathed. I remember writing the tactics on cardboard sandwich boards that I wore to advertise my assertion that love was a myth not a game. I got an A in that class but did not get a date.

I brought the book with me through multiple moves after college and eventually met my husband. I proceeded to break just about every rule outlined. I did not play hard to get. I did not pretend to be interested in Spider-Man. I did sit in line for hours to get tickets to the first showing of the movie, but I didn’t pretend to enjoy it. I did not buy him little gifts then go off the grid. I just acted kind of like myself. Perhaps a version of myself who wore more make-up, but still pretty much me.

I brought the book with me when we moved into our first house, and it survived many book purges, yard sales, and trips to Half-Price Books over the years. Then two years ago, when I was panicked trying to find an idea for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month), I pulled it out wondering if it could provide any inspiration. I came up with a book idea that I’ve been working on for the last two years that makes me giggle every time I think about it, and I wonder if my fifteen year-old self had some master plan all along. Buy the book now. Someday you’ll need it.

So here is my Valentine’s Day wish for anyone game enough to read this whole post (and, okay, for everyone who wasn’t too, because honestly this is my wish for everyone!). I wish that you never think you need a book like this (although go ahead and buy one if you want to—shockingly it’s still available on Amazon—because who knows where it might lead?). I wish that you always know that you are amazing and beautiful and absolutely enough. I wish that you have a day overflowing with love and a year where love flows freely in all directions pushing you easily towards your goals. I wish for us to all know that we are better when one of us reaches a goal. That there’s still enough for the rest of us who aren’t quite there yet. I also wish for a year filled with wonderful, illuminating, thought-provoking, funny books that we pack up in boxes and carry with us for the rest of our lives.

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4 comments on “Love Tactics & Valentine's Day Wishes”

  1. Great photo set up of the book. I'm sure that book had all kinds of bad advice. You know you have a keeper when the love the real you. That's a beautiful wish.

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