Valentine's Day is Sunday, and retailers everywhere are on puttin' on the glitz. Also the red, the pink, and the heart-shaped boxes of chocolate.
Everywhere, that is, except for the corner of 20th and Broadway, Uptown Oakland.
The lonely little loveseat.
This is how the corner window of Sears, Roebuck— Oakland's only remaining department store—looked on February 10. If you're not familiar with Oakland, let me set the scene: This is as close as we get to Main Street. The busy 19th Street BART station is just outside of the photo frame. City Center and the federal buildings are a few blocks away.
And then . . . this: the saddest store window in town. A vacant leather loveseat (oh, the irony!) and ottoman on a limp rug that looks like a giant wine stain. It could be the stage set for a misanthropic, soul-curdling Neil LaBute play. The bachelor pad of a guy too depressed to create clutter. The office of the VP of human resources at Despair, Inc. The anti-Valentine.
Why so glum, Sears? Last June I gently mocked you for your surreal/zany/depressing Father's Day display, but that tableau— same corner window, by the way—was positively sumptuous compared to this one. Do you hate Oakland and wish you could be somewhere snazzier? Is the loveseat a metaphor for the hollow commercialization of Valentine's Day? A cynical allusion to love's labors lost?
Cue the mournful Japanese flute:
Loveseat on a rug—
empty, like my shriveled heart.
Somewhere, Cupid weeps.