Op-ed: What's "Love" Got To Do With It?

BY Advocate Contributors

November 01 2011 7:00 AM ET

So,
I have this pair of boots at home. You probably wouldn’t think twice about
them. But I sure do. I’m not wearing them as I write this for reasons I’ll
explain later. But I’d like to be wearing them.

I
like the way they make me feel. Isn’t that sad? But these boots. I’m telling
you. Kind of a classic style — never goes out… and the upper part is soft and
yet the heel isn't too high and the toe isn't too blunt. They're simply perfect
— I love them! There. I said it. I. Love. My. Boots. 

I'm
sure my kids have heard me wax poetic about my love for my boots. And of course
they hear me tell them all
the time how much I love
them. It occurred to me. Could I really be using the same word to describe my
feelings for a pair of boots, albeit a fabulous pair — and my own kids? Because
it's apples and oranges. Right? At least, I think it is. Or it should be.

And
what do they think
about it? "Yeah, sure… my dad ’loves‘ me…" but that's not a short
list, believe me. He also "loves" dark chocolate and cashmere.
Mozart. Philadelphia Story,
Top Chef and mint
chocolate chip ice-cream… the list goes on and on.

Yeah,
OK, I'm empty. And I have a lot
of love to give. But how can I use the exact same word to describe so many
things for which I actually don’t
feel the exact same thing? Perhaps it's like colors? Maybe. But
"blue" isn't just blue.
There's about a million shades of blue. And all of them mean blue. But if you ask kids to tell
you the color of the sky? They say “blue.” But, come on. The sky is never the
same shade of blue. Thanks to some pasty, skinny-jeaned, straight-to-the
nearest-gay-bar slacker at J.Crew who gets paid 10 bucks an hour to come up
with 30 shades of every color — we have words to describe every variety of
blue: navy, midnight, lapis, ocean, chrome, maritime, dusty Baltic, warm
Riviera, my God. A couple of words and you’re transported to an island
somewhere with a hammock and a mojito.

I
like to think of words as my own personal GPS to lead me closer and closer to
what I really feel. But what words do I have to differentiate my intense love
for my son, Jonah, and say, pad thai? I don't. I love pad thai. And I really love Jonah. But I have to admit.
Sometimes? I really,
really love
pad thai.

Eskimos
have like 200 different words for the word "snow." We don't. “Snow.”
Got it. Clear as a bell. I know what you're talking about. But "love"?
With all the words in the English language, is that all we have to describe
that particular warmth in the chest, quickening pulse and flush in the cheeks
we feel about a person that, at times, makes us do such foolish things? And the
same word for an object or food we might crave, overcome huge obstacles to
obtain and then over-indulge possibly to the point of vomiting? Well, that's
bullshit.

It’s
no wonder the word "love" is so over used. And mis-used, overrated and
under-appreciated. How many times have we ended a call with: "Bye! Love
you." And do we really
love the person we say that to? Really, really?? The other day, I realized I'd
been signing off all my emails "X, O, Dan,” basically sending a kiss and a
hug to my lawyer, my agents, my accountant – some guy on the neighborhood
committee warning us about the coyotes in the neighborhood and God knows how
many other people I clearly have no interest in hugging or kissing. Except
maybe the coyote guy. He's pretty cute.

Clearly
“love” means something.
It exists. I'm not suggesting it doesn't. And I clearly didn’t get enough of it
or I wouldn’t be in a business where love is dispensed as freely as a sample of
wrinkle reducer in an after-party swag bag. And just as valued. But we've all
felt it and it does
have a value — an evolutionary purpose that keeps us productive — and
reproductive. I’d even venture to say: happy. But if it has to be defined by
each of us individually then all the more reason for there to exist more than
one word to describe it. Right?

When
we were talking about having kids, Don and I loved the idea of it. We were going to be
dads. Pitter patter of little feet. Someone to take care of us when we were old
and withered and drooling in a cup. Loved it. Then we spent five months sharing
our lives with our birth mom in every possible way so she knew the kind of love
we were capable of. We wanted her to know we were reliable and she wouldn’t
change her mind once the baby was born. It felt scary. That, I didn't love. And
trying to get her to quit smoking without pissing her off. Didn’t love that.
And pushing pre-natal vitamins — assuring her that they’re just as energy
boosting as the Super-Sized Mountain Dew Slurpee she devoured every morning
with her chocolate covered Cinnabun.

Then
we were in the delivery room. We held our birth-mom’s hand as she closed her
eyes. She was afraid and we were there to comfort her. Yes, we loved her – and
loved the courage she displayed in making the sacrifice she was making. And
when my daughter Eliza and later Jonah, entered the world and were placed into
our arms, warmth filled my chest. Tears streamed from my eyes. Yep. I was in
love. How did that
happen? A completely involuntary, indescribable response to this moment –
looking over at Don, our smiles hidden behind our hospital masks, in a puddle
over our new family.

On
this year’s anniversary with my partner of 19 years (and my husband for three years),
I marvel at the power, complexity and expansive ground the word “love” seems to
cover.  I feel blessed to have so
much in my life.   And maybe
if we had too many words to describe it, it would lose a bit of its luster — its
celebrity.  Its democracy.  Its scope.   Love doesn’t discriminate.   And one day, I’m confident, our kids will live in a
world where we don’t discriminate against anyone on the basis of whom they
love.

A
few days ago. My son, whom I love, threw up. On my boots. Yep, “the” boots. The
boots I love.
He'd eaten beets. That's right. Beets on my boots. And I felt my chest get all
warm – no, hot... hot...
I don't know what words we have in our language to describe that feeling I had...
But I assure you, my friends — it was not "love."

 

Dan Bucatinsky is a
writer/actor/producer known for writing and starring in the indie film
All
Over The Guy.  With producing partner Lisa Kudrow, he runs Is Or Isn't
Entertainment, behind the groundbreaking, cult comedy
The Comeback,
and is now in production for the third season of acclaimed docu-series
Who
Do You Think You Are for NBC. Their current project Web Therapy,
is a new half-hour version of the award winning web-series exclusively on
Showtime.  His upcoming book
Does This Baby Make Me Look
Straight? from Touchstone Books is due out in 2012 and you can follow
Dan on WhoSay and on Twitter @Danbuca.
 

Tags: Commentary

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