Yesterday at Costco, a place I visit far too often, the cashier handed me the receipt and said “Love Ya..“.
My wife had to take a step back. Did she just say what I thought she said?
I know I’m not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, but hey – beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, right? Maybe I have that endearing look that made her blurt out that precious and coveted word, ‘Love’. Maybe she was just from Newfoundland, where everyone calls everyone ‘Love‘.
I suppose in the big picture, I shouldn’t be surprised. Aren’t we taught to ‘Love our fellow man’, ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’, and ‘Give love freely’? Okay, maybe that last one could get you in a bit of trouble. But what is it about this simple little word that scares the bajeebers out of young men, and makes young women swoon? I guess it’s pretty much the same for not-so-young men and women, too. The three word combination, ‘I Love You’ has to be one of the most powerful phrases in the English language.
Growing up in a house of boys, you can imagine that the ‘L’ word wasn’t thrown around very much, other than in the context of general comments like; ‘I love spaghetti night‘, or ‘I’d love it if this house could stay clean for 5 minutes‘.
Love was shown, it’s its unique testosterone-soaked way, just not spoken a lot. We do say it to each other now and again when we talk on the phone, but I suspect that we all find it a bit strange – like when you go to do a hand shake, and the other one tries a fist bump, and you end up grabbing his fist awkwardly.
“I Love You” can be expected and natural at times, like a mother might say to their child in a tender moment, or in a romantic comedy movie, where the ‘best friend’ of the opposite sex says it as he crashes an impending wedding….what a jerk! He couldn’t declare his love before she booked the caterer and sent out the invitations?
Couples say it to each other – sometimes even during a fight that gets out of hand. It can be a peace offering of sorts, or used as a form of preface before you say something negative; “I love you, but you make me crazy the way you squeeze the toothpaste”.
I’ve even heard people say it to total strangers, much like my admirer from Costco. At a restaurant, the waitress brings you a big glass of water just as you start to choke on a dried out piece of chicken; “I Love You” seems totally acceptable in that situation, because we all see it as a ‘thank you’ when their timing is perfect.
I guess the most awkward ‘Love You’ is between guy friends who aren’t romantically connected to each other. Typically, we like to qualify it with ‘Man’ at the end, so as to not imply any weird secret affection. “I Love You, Man!” – usually followed by a guy hug – pull him in really hard, bear-hug style, and pat him on the back.
Of course, you better reply in kind, right? You can’t just leave that hanging out there without an appropriate response. That’s even more awkward than the failed hand shake. Proper responses may go as follows, in descending order of acceptability:
- “I love you, too”
- “I love you too, man!”
- “Me too”
- “Uh, yeah”
- “Oh…um, yeah”
- “Well, good seeing you…”
…and you have like a nano-second to come up with your reply. Dead air is deadly. The length of hesitation directly corresponds to the unwillingness to respond properly. That’s not a ‘guy to guy’ rule either….in fact, with a spouse or other romantically connected person, you better be like Quick-draw McGraw with the ‘I love you, too’, or else!
I think that too often though, the ‘Love’ word is thrown around a little too liberally. I mean, it should be meaningful, right? It should be a sought-after expression. So, when people say “I LOVE this show”, it diminishes the word ‘Love’ a bit doesn’t it? Shouldn’t we look at ‘Love’ like we approach the old supply and demand rule? The less you hear it, the more important and valued it is? Maybe we should reserve using it for only those things that truly move us spiritually and emotionally.
No more “I (heart) NY”. That in itself is demonstration enough to argue the point, isn’t it? Have we become so casual with the word ‘Love’ that we can’t even be bothered to say it? Now we just make this weird shape with our hands… Should I really believe that when the adorable Taylor Swift looks at the camera and makes that contorted hand gesture, that she loves ‘me‘? We haven’t even met! Maybe she secretly follows my blog….hey, you never know! See what I mean?
It’s such a beautiful word, but it’s been cheapened somehow. But then again, maybe we need to say it as a way to fight off all that negativity in the world. God knows, we could stand to love each other a bit more. Am I being cynical about reserving the word ‘Love’ for only the most important moments in life? Should I seize every moment to tell all of God’s children that as brothers and sisters, I love them?
Maybe Taylor Swift really does love everyone – who am I to judge her? She’s happy, rich, and has thousands of fans – what’s not be loving about?
I think maybe I should stop being embarrassed in sharing my true feelings for my friends and family. Maybe I should tell them all that I love them.
I’m gonna start by heading back to Costco first thing tomorrow!