Saturday, November 29, 2008

Valentine's in New Orleans

Valentine’s Day
I’ll Get You For This!
Okay, I’m channeling Carrie Bradshaw here; but, is it not true that when you tell someone that big old “L” word that, in essence, you are committing to a technicolor, gossamer lined, cotton candy, hold ’em close and never let them go, love you to death debt of honor; and, at the same time subjecting yourself to a like indenture? In other words, when you say I love you…do you really mean “you owe me”? Do I hear the shackling of the handcuffs to the heart?
Now, don’t take this personal; these are just questions, and perhaps a waste of space except that February is ripe for such inquiries, what with Valentine’s and all…plus, there is my never ending tendency to challenge your thought processes.
At this point let me clarify that, yes, I do have a lover in my life and not only does my lover act, show and treat me as if I am worthy of love; my lover tells me that she loves me and I appreciate each and every time that I hear it from her lips. Yet, I remain amazed at the plethora of connotations that are implied with the use of the word ‘love’.
“I love you”. Did your Mama an ‘em lay that one on you (“I love you, Little Booger”) when you were young; and, did you not know that any mischief, mayhem or mis-step that you made would be a breach of faith to that love? That, that love, that was given so freely and then held over your head like a fragile bird (that you could destroy with a slip in your behavior), was cemented with those words? What do we actually mean by those three little words? AND, do we accept or place burdens on ourselves and others, perhaps naively, by their use? Is it as well an award and a reward? Is the word ‘love’ slung around like a garnish of whipped cream? Does it curdle with misuse or neglect; and, (like whipped cream) does it’s use in sex seem a little weird sometimes? A re-enforcement, a goose bumpy, puppy face-licking phrase of sub-serviance?
First though: Asking about what we mean by love itself can fill this newspaper and plenty of others and so, we’re not going to get into all that here. Better to save that discussion (what is love?) for a dark and stormy night, by a warm fire with a couple of brandies under our belts. I’m wondering about the many ways that we use the word. Disparities abound in a myriad of circumstances with the uses, the oft overlooked conundrum: what do we really mean when we say “I love you”? Can it possibly be as simple as that; the epitome of human felling can be condensed into three words? Let’s see.
Now, sometimes the ‘L’ word is used as a benediction as in when you’re leaving someone in a hospital bed, kissing a child good night or ringing off on a phone conversation. At times, guns drawn and ready to break down the perp’s door and my partner and I take a deep breath and I say “ready?” and she nods assent, I say softly “I love you” and we bust in guns blazing!
Newspaper cartoon of a girl child waking up her father and he says: “huh, wha?” and she says “Dad, I just wanted to tell you what a wonderful father you are and that I love you”. The dad smiles and the child adds “and I just spilled a gallon of fruit punch in the refrigerator”.
But wait! There’s more: Is it a natural or conditioned response that when someone says ‘I love you” to say “I love you, too”? Try responding: “Why, what did you do?” or “Yes but, I love you more” or (here’s the best one) “Okay. Grab me a beer, will ya?”
Okay, show of hands… how many of us take our critters close and say those words? I do, and I’m not too shy to admit to kissing my cat and nuzzling my dog; or, nuzzling my cat and kissing my dog. Either circumstance has me saying those three little words. Incidentally when a dog licks you is that an ‘I love you’ or a ‘don’t kick me’? Who can swear?
Does Jesus really love me? Did God love me so much that he sent Jesus to save me? I don’t know, I haven’t met either one of them. Which brings up love in religion and the faithful. Is it love or fear? Does Buddha love me? Muhammad? Does eternal love require eternally saying it? What is expected in return? No, you can’t have my beer.
Can you love a government the way that you love someone’s sweater, earrings or lipstick? And don’t tell me that I don’t know the difference between love and lust; although, I have been known to use ‘the word’ interchangeably for both types of attraction.
And I’m here to tell you that I am a great fan of the spoken word, especially when it’s to express love; however, this Valentine’s I’m making a resolution to mix it up: learning to say ‘I love you’ in foreign languages, wagging my tail or purring are also things that I’m up for trying. But also, there are other ways to keep love’s attention: treat, act and show are good places to start for the non-verbal communication of our feelings.
Face it, we show our loved ones that we love them by our actions and how we treat them; ‘the do’s: politeness, respect, space considerations and compliments as well as understanding, patience, forgiveness that go with the practicing of the Golden Rule. Add to that the ‘nots’: not being a pain in the ass to be around, not acting the fool, not overstressing your opinions and not knowing when to shut the fuck up.
Another thing that you can do is to read this article to your loved one. Just make sure that you stress after the reading that; “Honey, I’m sure that he’s not talking about us!”. Happy V.D. (Valentine’s Day) P.S. I love you.

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