LC Van Savage
I Love You
I love you. You are special. I appreciate you. I like you so much. You are important. You matter. Ever notice how hard these words are to say to people who most need to hear them? Like family members or friends? Your dog?
We've gotten so Goosie Lucie with those phrases that now we drop them everywhere like verbal sawdust all over perfect strangers and casual acquaintances, but sadly, not on the ones yearning to hear them.
In the old days it was actually believed that to tell children they were loved, to touch or hold them would result in their growing up "ruined;" boys would become "sissies" and girls would become spoiled and would never find a decent husband. What's pitiful is that some misguided parents still think that.
I was recently taken to task by a daughter-in-law who advised me that she rarely heard us tell our #1 son that we loved him. I was stunned! When our boys were young, those words were the last they heard before they slept. Sometimes though, that was hard, especially on those nights when what I really wanted to do was strap them all onto a rocket and aim it at Pluto.
Actually I have said those words a lot over the years to our kids, even long after they stopped sleeping over, and began sleeping with their wives. But my DIL was right; I hadn't been saying them enough. I had tumbled into the "assume trap." So now I'm saying it a lot to them, to the point where our boys are responding with, "Ma! We get it. You can stop already, K?" Well, K, but just because they're sprouting a few grey hairs and losing a lot of other ones doesn't mean they're too old to hear those words, so it's my goal to hammer the message at them, at least until they go into the Witness Protection Program.
I remember being at a wedding in the sixties when all this lovey, touchie, gropie stuff began, and the preacher suddenly commanded everyone to turn "to the nearest stranger, reach out, hug him or her and say 'I love you.'" I shuddered. I thought I'd die, that is if I couldn't run first and I couldn't, being stuck in the center of a crowded pew. The stranger next to me was a Charles Manson clone and I wouldn't possibly hug him much less tell him I loved him. Eeuw. But everyone was being so gushily misty about the whole deal that I thought I'd better just do it because not doing it would have been far more noticeable than just getting it over with. Ugh. He was creepy. I dread to think what he thought of me.
Back in the sixties, as you will recall, people were shoving flowers into gun barrels, streaking, dancing on every surface, tie-dyeing, blowing weed, and blowing up libraries along with screaming about how much they loved everyone. For example, I once met a man back then named Mr. Black, a perfectly normal appearing guy. We stood and talked for about ten minutes. When we parted, he said "Oh, and I love you LC."
Oh, jeez no, you do NOT love me, Mr. Black, I thought. I glared at him. How annoying. How irritating. How are we supposed to answer someone when they say that and we don't even know them? And, if we don't say it back, it's assumed we're uptight, hung up, frigid or half-witted, right? Not in tune with our feelings. Rejecting our inner child.
Oh please. Look, I really am quite in tune with my feelings and my feelings are that I definitely do not wish to tell every person I pass by that I love them, and I don't want them to tell me they love me. Why do we have to profess an emotion we don't feel for a person we perhaps don't like, when all we want is to say it to someone important to us and mean it, and who will say it back, and mean it.
Oh well, peace and love, man.
"To Norma Jeane with Love, Jimmie"
co-authored with Marilyn Monroe's first husband,
is at local bookstores.
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org