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CHLOE EFFRON // WIKIMEDIA COMMONS (OVID), UNICODE (BACKGROUND)
CHLOE EFFRON // WIKIMEDIA COMMONS (OVID), UNICODE (BACKGROUND)

11 Tips From Ovid for How to Get Over a Breakup

CHLOE EFFRON // WIKIMEDIA COMMONS (OVID), UNICODE (BACKGROUND)
CHLOE EFFRON // WIKIMEDIA COMMONS (OVID), UNICODE (BACKGROUND)

If you’ve had a rough time dating recently and are nursing a broken heart, look no further.

Around 2 CE, the ancient Roman poet Ovid wrote Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love), instructing men and women on how to find and keep a romantic partner. But not long afterward Ovid also wrote Remedia Amoris (The Cure for Love), a Latin poetry manual for how to navigate a breakup. If you feel betrayed by love, as Ovid writes in Remedia Amoris, he can help: “Learn how to be cured, from him who taught you how to love: the one hand brings the wound and the relief.”

1. STAY BUSY—DON’T BE IDLE. 

Ovid’s first piece of advice to handle a breakup is to stay busy. So how should you keep yourself occupied? Ovid suggests that you hang out at court (you can defend any friends who might be on trial), engage in war, or study agriculture in the countryside. As he writes in Remedia Amoris:

“Give your vacant mind work to occupy it. There are the courts, the laws, the friends you might defend: make your way through the splendid camp of city togas. Or admire the youthful service of blood-drenched Mars … Country matters too delight the spirit, and the study of agriculture.” 

2. TIRE YOURSELF OUT BY HUNTING AND TRAVELING.

If you’ve already spent time at court, fought, and studied farming, you should also learn to hunt. Hunting hares, deer, and boars will tire you out, so you’ll sleep better at night without thinking of your ex. Travel, too, can help, since the change of scenery will give you solace and heal your heartbreak.

“Or you can cultivate the art of hunting … Sleep at night, not desire for girls, welcomes the weary man, and the limbs will be restored by calm rest … You only need to journey far, though strong chains hold you back, and start to travel distant ways: you’ll cry, and your lost girl’s name will oppose it, and your feet will often stop you on the road: but the less you wish to go, the more you should go … the long road, give you a hundred solaces for your cares.” 

3. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY.

When you’re nursing a breakup, you may want to stay inside, cry, and not talk to anyone. It’s more important than ever, though, to surround yourself with other people. According to Ovid, if you spend time alone you’ll be sad as you reminisce about your ex—and nights will be the hardest to get through:

“You who love, beware lonely places, lonely places are harmful! Why flee? You can be safer in a crowd. You don’t need secrecy (secrecy nurtures passion): in future it’s the crowd that will assist you. If you’re alone, you’ll be sad, and the form of the girl you’ve left will be there before your eyes, so like herself. Because of that, night’s sadder than the daylight: your crowd of friends missing, who might ease the gloom. Don’t shun conversation, or let your door be closed, don’t hide your tearful face in the shadows.” 

4. DON’T EAT ONIONS.

Because onions are an aphrodisiac, according to Ovid, don’t eat them! All types of onions will do you harm, whether they’re from Italy, North Africa, or Greece. You should also avoid another aphrodisiac, arugula (a.k.a. “that lustful garden rocket”). From Remedia Amoris:

“Behold, there’s still your diet, to complete all the doctor’s duties, I’ll give you what to swallow and avoid. Italian onions, or the ones they send you, from the shores of Libya, or the ones that come from Megara, every one will do you harm. It’s no less fitting to avoid that lustful garden rocket, and whatever readies these bodies of ours for making love.” 

5. THINK ABOUT ALL THE BAD QUALITIES OF YOUR EX.

If you’re feeling down about not having your ex in your life anymore, don’t get stuck idealizing your former partner. Instead, think of all the things you didn’t like about him or her. Perhaps she was greedy, she liked other people, or she rejected your love. Even if your ex’s legs were beautiful, think about them as if they were ugly. If that doesn’t work, sneak over to her house to see her when she’s not wearing any makeup or jewelry (maybe don’t actually do this one). As Ovid explains: 

“Tell yourself often what your wicked girl has done, and before your eyes place every hurt you’ve had … Let all this embitter your every feeling: recall it, look here for the seeds of your dislike ... It helped to continually dwell on my friend’s faults, and it often was the thing that made me better. ‘How ugly,’ I’d say ‘my girl’s legs are!’ and yet they weren’t, if the truth be told … And appear suddenly, when she’s applied no make-up to herself, having hastened your steps to your lady in the dawn. We’re carried away by adornment: in gold and gems all’s hidden: the least part of it’s the girl herself.” 

6. AVOID CONTACT WITH YOUR EX.

According to Ovid, recent heartbreak is like a fragile wound. Even if your scar has scabbed over, spending time with your ex will rip the scab right off and open the wound. To avoid running into your ex, don’t go for walks near where she lives, don’t stay friends with her family, and definitely don’t talk to her maid to fish for information about how she’s doing.

“If you love, but don’t wish to, avoid making contact … Another man was already cured: being near harmed him: he couldn’t bear any meeting with his mistress. The wound, poorly healed, reopened at the old scar … Don’t take your walks in the colonnade where she’s accustomed to: and don’t adorn the same functions … Say goodbye to mother, sister, and the nurse who’s in the know, and whoever plays any part in your girl’s life. Don’t let her slave come by, or her maid, with lying tears, humbly saying: ‘Greetings!’ in their mistress’s name. And if you want to know what she’s doing, still, don’t ask: endure! It will profit you to hold your tongue.”

7. DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME WITH WITCHCRAFT AND SPELLS.

Ovid doesn’t put much stock in herbs, magic arts, wicked spells, and charms. He strongly advises against using witchcraft to make your ex fall back in love with you. From Remedia Amoris

“Harmful herbs, and magic arts … With me in charge no spirits will be ordered from their graves, no witch, with wicked spells, will split the ground … No pains will be charmed away to ease the heart, conquering love won’t be put to flight by burning sulphur … So whoever you are who call for help from my art, put no faith in witchcraft and incantations.”

8. LET YOUR EX KEEP THE GIFTS YOU GAVE HER.

Although you should think about your ex’s negative qualities and avoid seeing her, don’t let yourself hate her. After all, as Ovid points out, you shouldn’t hate someone that you once loved. Instead, be indifferent towards her, and let her keep any gifts you gave her during your relationship. 

“But it’s wrong to hate the girl you loved, in any way: that conclusion suits uncivilized natures. It’s enough not to care: who ends his love by hating, is either still in love, or finds it hard to leave off being sorry. Shame for a man and woman, once joined, now to be enemies … Tell her to keep the gifts you gave her, without any ruling: small losses are usually a major gain.”

9. IF YOU SEE YOUR EX, PRETEND THAT YOU’RE HAPPY. 

It’s bound to happen sooner or later—the inevitable run-in with your ex. Even if you’re deeply grieving and heartbroken, put on a happy face so your ex thinks that you’re doing fine. And definitely don’t cry in front of her. If you act as if you’re not hurting, eventually you’ll feel better for real.

“Make it seem to your girl that you’re chillier than ice: and if you’re grieving deeply, look happy, lest she see it, and laugh, when tears come to you … Pretend to what is not, and that the passion’s over, so you’ll become, in truth, what you are studying to be … he who can imagine he’s well, will be well … The new day will dawn: lose your words of grievance, and show no signs of suffering in your face.” 

10. THROW OUT ALL REMINDERS OF HIM OR HER. 

If you reminisce about the good times you had with your ex, your heart will hurt even more because your passion will be reignited. Even though you won’t want to, Ovid suggests that you burn all the love letters from your ex. You also should avoid visiting places that will evoke strong memories of the times you spent together.

“Don’t re-read the letters you’ve kept from your sweet girl: re-reading letters shakes the steadfast heart. Put them all in the fierce flames (you’ll hate to do it), and say: ‘Let this be the funeral pyre for my passion.’… And often places hurt you: flee the places where you slept guiltily together: they’re a cause of grief … Remembering reopens love, the wound’s newly re-opened: trifling errors damage the weak-minded.”

11. DON’T GO TO THE THEATRE OR READ POETRY.

Ovid reluctantly—he is a poet, after all—urges heartbroken people to temporarily avoid the arts. Theatre and poetry will soften your heart and remind you of your lost love. In short, the arts will do nothing for your recovery. As he writes in Remedia Amoris:

“But there’s value in not indulging in the theatre, till love’s truly vanished from your empty heart, The zithers, and lutes and lyres unman you, and the sound and waving limbs of the troupe. There lovers’ parts are danced, continually: the actor, with art shows, what delights: and what you must avoid. I speak unwillingly now: don’t touch the tender poets! Disloyally I banish even my own gifts.”

All photos provided by iStock.

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A Brief History of Black Friday
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The unofficial start of the holiday shopping season is often referred to as the busiest shopping day of the year. But where did this tradition start and just how big is it? Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions about Black Friday. Hopefully they'll give you some good talking points tomorrow, when you line up outside Best Buy at 4 a.m.

HOW DID BLACK FRIDAY BECOME SUCH A BIG SHOPPING DAY?

It's hard to say when the day after Thanksgiving turned into a retail free-for-all, but it probably dates back to the late 19th century. At that time, store-sponsored Thanksgiving parades were common, and once Santa Claus showed up at the end of the parade, the holiday shopping season had officially commenced.

In those days, most retailers adhered to an unwritten rule that holiday shopping season didn't start until after Thanksgiving, so no stores would advertise holiday sales or aggressively court customers until the Friday immediately following the holiday. Thus, when the floodgates opened that Friday, it became a huge deal.

SO RETAILERS WERE ALWAYS HOPING FOR AN EARLY THANKSGIVING?

You bet. They weren't just hoping, though; they were being proactive about it. In 1939, the Retail Dry Goods Association warned Franklin Roosevelt that if the holiday season wouldn't begin until after Americans celebrated Thanksgiving on the traditional final Thursday in November, retail sales would go in the tank. Ever the iconoclast, Roosevelt saw an easy solution to this problem: he moved Thanksgiving up by a week. Instead of celebrating the holiday on its traditional day—November 30th that year—Roosevelt declared the next-to-last Thursday in November to be the new Thanksgiving, instantly tacking an extra week onto the shopping season.

BRILLIANT! HOW DID THAT WORK OUT?

Not so well. Roosevelt didn't make the announcement until late October, and by then most Americans had already made their holiday travel plans. Many rebelled and continued to celebrate Thanksgiving on its "real" date while derisively referring to the impostor holiday as "Franksgiving." State governments didn't know which Thanksgiving to observe, so some of them took both days off. In short, it was a bit of a mess.

By 1941, though, the furor had died down, and Congress passed a law that made Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November, regardless of how it affected the shopping day that would become known as Black Friday.

WHY CALL IT BLACK FRIDAY?

If you ask most people why the day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday, they'll explain that the name stems from retailers using the day's huge receipts as their opportunity to "get in the black" and become profitable for the year. The first recorded uses of the term "Black Friday" are a bit less rosy, though.

According to researchers, the name "Black Friday" dates back to Philadelphia in the mid-1960s. The Friday in question is nestled snugly between Thanksgiving and the traditional Army-Navy football game that's played in Philadelphia on the following Saturday, so the City of Brotherly Love was always bustling with activity on that day. All of the people were great for retailers, but they were a huge pain for police officers, cab drivers, and anyone who had to negotiate the city's streets. They started referring to the annual day of commercial bedlam as "Black Friday" to reflect how irritating it was.

SO WHERE DID THE WHOLE "GET IN THE BLACK" STORY ORIGINATE?

Apparently store owners didn't love having their biggest shopping day saddled with such a negative moniker, so in the early 1980s someone began floating the accounting angle to put a more positive spin on the big day.

DO RETAILERS REALLY NEED BLACK FRIDAY TO TURN AN ANNUAL PROFIT?

Major retailers don't; they're generally profitable—or at least striving for profitability—throughout the entire year. (A company that turned losses for three quarters out of every fiscal year wouldn't be a big hit with investors.) Some smaller outlets may parlay big holiday season sales into annual profits, though.

IS BLACK FRIDAY REALLY THE BIGGEST SHOPPING DAY OF THE YEAR?

It's certainly the day of the year in which you're most likely to be punched while reaching for a Tickle Me Elmo doll, but it might not be the busiest day in terms of gross receipts. According to Snopes.com, Black Friday is generally one of the top days of the year for stores, but it's the days immediately before Christmas—when procrastinators finally get shopping—that stores make the serious loot. Black Friday may, however, be the busiest day of the year in terms of customer traffic.

Snopes's data shows the 10-year span from 1993 to 2002, and in that interval Black Friday was never higher than fourth on the list of the year's busiest shopping days by sales volume. In 2003 and 2005 Black Friday did climb to the top of the pile for sales revenue days, but it still gets stiff competition from the week leading up to Christmas, particularly the Saturday right before the big day.

DO PEOPLE REALLY GET INJURED ON BLACK FRIDAY?

Sadly, yes. One of the most tragic Black Friday incidents happened in 2008, when 34-year-old seasonal employee Jdimytai Damour was killed after a crowd of hundreds of people from the approximately 2000 people waiting outside knocked him own and stampeded over his back after the doors opened at 5 a.m. at the Wal-Mart on Long Island, New York.

In 2010 in Buffalo, New York, several shoppers were trampled trying to get into a Target. One of the victims, Keith Krantz—who was pinned against a metal door support and then shoved to the ground—told a CNN affiliate he thought he would be killed. “At that moment, I was thinking I don't want to die here on the ground,” Krantz said.

In Murray, Utah, 15,000 shoppers swamped a mall with such force, the local police had to respond to break up skirmishes and fistfights, and keep shoppers from ransacking stores.

In 2008, a fight broke out between a young girl and a man at another Wal-Mart store in Columbus, Ohio, over a 40-inch Samsung flat-screen television. It was $798, marked down from $1000. The New York Times reported that the not-so-aptly-named Nikki Nicely, 19, leaped onto a fellow shopper’s back and began pounding his shoulders violently when he attempted to purchase the television. “That’s my TV!” shouted Ms. Nicely, who then took an elbow to the face. “That’s my TV!” The fight was broken up by a police officer and security guard. “That’s right,” Nicely cried as her adversary walked away. “This here is my TV!”

HOW CAN THIS KIND OF THING BE AVOIDED?

In an effort to keep a few would-be clients from personal injury law firms, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created a special checklist for retailers expecting large crowds.

So what’s OSHA’s advice? Consider using bullhorns. Hire a team of police officers. Be prepared for “crowd crushing” and “violent acts.” Set up barricades. And, above all else, if charging shoppers come running, stay out of the way.

Haley Sweetland Edwards contributed to this story, portions of which originally appeared in 2009.

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A Speedy History of the Hess Truck
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Hess Corporation

Unless you know someone crazy about air fresheners or caffeine pills, holiday gifts purchased at gas stations don’t usually provoke much excitement. But if you were one of the millions who grew up in the northeast, the annual release of the Hess toy truck at Hess gas stations—usually green, always labeled with a Hess logo, always boxed with batteries—was and is as much a part of the holiday as Santa Claus and his sleigh.

The idea for an affordable, quality children’s toy sold at service stations at thousands of Hess locations in 16 states was courtesy of Leon Hess, the college dropout-turned-fuel magnate who began selling oil door-to-door in 1933 and graduated to gas stops by 1960. Hess decided he would trump the cheap merchandise given away by gas stations—mugs, glassware—by commissioning a durable, feature-heavy toy truck modeled after the first oil tanker he ever bought for his company. Unlike most toys of the era, it would have headlights that really worked and a tank that kids could either fill up or drain with water.

Most importantly, Hess insisted it come with batteries—he knew the frustration suffered by kids who tore into a holiday present, only to discover they’d have to wait until it had a power source before it could be operated.

The Hess Tanker Truck went on sale in 1964 for $1.29 and sold out almost instantly. Hess released the toy again in 1965, and then introduced the Voyager Tanker Ship in 1966. For the next 50 years, hardly a year went by without Hess issuing a new vehicle that stood up to heavy play and offered quality and features comparable to the “real” toys on store shelves. Incredibly, fathers would wait in line for hours for an opportunity to buy one for their child.

The toy truck became so important to the Hess brand and developed such a strong following that when the company was bought out in 2014 and locations converted to the Speedway umbrella, new owners Marathon Petroleum promised they would keep making the Hess trucks. They’re now sold online, with the newest—the Dump Truck and Loader, complete with working hydraulics and STEM lesson plans—retailing for $33.99. Bigger, better toy trucks may be out there, but a half-century of tradition is hard to replicate.

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