If LU offered a class on heartbreaking, I’d be the professor

J.B. Sivanich

Part I of II
I don’t remember exactly how it happened when I discovered what role destiny had assigned me in life, but it went a little bit like this: There was kiss on the cheek on the tire swings – I honestly can’t remember if I was the lips or the cheek – and there was a Tonka Truck and a temporary sand castle involved – I’m pretty sure I was the Tonka truck. I do remember that her name was Lilly and usually she was the cool girl in my class but for some reason – either she was really attached to that sand castle or she thought I was much more committed than my 5-year-old self could ever possibly be – she threw an uncharacteristically substantial fit – my Mom just decided to give me a hair cut rather than go through the effort of picking all the sand out of my hair.
It was the feeling of complete satisfaction I had as I sat with Ms. Silva on the bus while the rest of my classmates enjoyed the remaining part of their day at Atwater Beach that I will never forget. Fifteen years later, with quite a few more experiences under my belt, I can honestly say that there is no sensation like breaking someone’s heart. They say that teaching is the most rewarding thing you can do in life, but I’d beg to differ.
Besides a few years of misdirection from second to fourth grade – that was the “cootie” stage, if you can remember that far back – I have been continuously perfecting and refining my skills; I even have kept a “playbook” that would conveniently make for a good course reader.
I would like to briefly mention that I was known by my high school English department as “Little J.B. Wickham.” I don’t want to go much further because I think it would be a little redundant to comment about the reputation that I have carved out for myself here. All I will say is that I have left – and am still to this day leaving – behind a trail of tears, broken promises and shattered dreams that is increasingly starting to rival the Appalachian.
Before I enlighten y’all with a few “how-tos,” I want to say that I have seen some incredible heartbreakers, male and female, gay and straight throughout my years in the business – yes, it may come as a shock to you but there are actual trade shows – and so to de-genderify the topic I will just speak of the person whose heart you are trying turn into something resembling a pumpkin after a gang of sexually frustrated teenagers take baseball bats to it as a “target” or a “mark.”
Choosing a mark is the first step in heartbreaking and an important one. You should choose someone who is somewhat interesting but not too confusing to the point that is too much to handle. If you ever, at any point, worry about developing attachments to your target, well then you are in the wrong business my friend.
A true heartbreaker only cares about the next trick, the clothes they wear and maybe a pet that carries some childhood significance. A lack of previous romantic experience is a major plus, but sometimes what is easy is not always the most
fun – I’ve been to too many dinners
where, after two compliments
about how their ponytail is “classic,
but kind of innovative in a way
I’ve never really seen before,” a few
quoted lines from “The Princess
Bride” and the “accidental” flashing
of a Ben Franklin the chase is over
and the fun gone.
My seventh grade basketball
coach once told me that before I
take a free throw, I should always
visualize myself making that shot.
I never got to take that advice
because that same coach kept me
on the bench until my Mom called
him and pulled me off the team,
but I have never forgotten those
The best advice I can give to
all you aspiring heartbreakers out
there is to imagine your target
right after the “pull” – that’s a
little professional jargon for y’all,
but I think you know what I mean.
Imagine them lying on the floor,
crying in incomplete sentences to
their best friend at home, older
sister or whoever has to suffer the
role of being their confidante. The
question you have to ask yourself
as you envision this situation is,
“What do I want he/she to say?”
That’s it for today’s class. It’s a
Friday and I’m in a good mood, so
no homework.