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

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

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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.

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

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