February 12, 2011 in Washington Voices

Love is a many-faceted experience

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Love stinks.

Once upon a time in the second grade I had a big crush on a classmate named Frank. When the teacher reassigned seating and placed us at the same double desk, our pedestrian classroom became heaven’s door.

Then one day without warning, my beloved shot to his feet and vomited, barely missing me as I leapt aside, aghast. The desk, the floor, Frank – all were covered. No amount of kitty litter could trump nausea and revulsion. Forget poor Frank’s humiliation – a walking Krakatoa, he utterly extinguished my romantic dreams. So much so that my memories of him end there.

Love is sweet, but changeable.

I’ve always loved candy conversation hearts, those sugary confections whose chalky sweetness calls up childhood memories. But to my great dismay the flavorings have changed. Now, why mess with a good thing? Give me those old tooth-piercingly sweet hearts with no identifiable flavor whatsoever, that bear antiquated phrases like “Oh You Kid,” instead of icky ones with fake apple or sour flavors that say “Whatever.”

Love gets even better.

To balance the candy heart disappointment, chocolate has only improved over the years. Now we have exquisite, high-cocoa-percentage chocolate that revs up dopamine to red alert levels. The creamiest chocolate has a fat level high enough to melt under the touch of a cold finger. Sophisticated flavorings, fillings, and lovely sculpted shapes have brought chocolates to a whole new level of ecstasy.

Love is continually renewable.

Remember those cheap kiddie valentines we used to obsess over and then toss out, clogging the landfills with transitory devotion? Now I can guiltlessly promise to love my sweetie 4 Ever, with an ecologically responsible card made with recycled wood chips and vegetable dyes, and sign it with a recycled water bottle pen. This of course makes me feel both loving and righteous (and therefore barely tolerable). I hope future generations rise up to thank me, but I won’t hold my breath.

Love is creative and daring.

A handmade card (on recycled paper, of course), with an original poem written in your own hand, is a unique expression tailored just for your sweetie. So you’re not Shakespeare, and couldn’t rhyme if you had time, eating a lime. That’s what free verse is for. And those millions of quotable love songs.

Love is kind and has a sense of humor.

I’m not a crabby person, but there are days when I’m not my ideal self. I’ll never forget the first time I told my husband, Richard, “Oh, I’m such a grump today!” His hug and fond reply, “But you’re MY grump,” was all it took to make me laugh and get over myself.

Love is extravagant.

Maybe this is the year you want to express your love with a fabulous gift. Choosing something special to thrill your sweetie, and his or her delight in it, can be a memorable experience. Jewelry and electronics stores are standing by.

Love’s best expression is free.

Saying “I love you,” and giving of yourself daily, means more than any object in an enticing box. Heartfelt praise and appreciation, given often and well, go straight to the heart and lodge there forever, brighter than any gemstone or touchscreen. No pesky gift-wrapping, either.

I wish I could have a do-over with Frank. I’d remember love’s kindness, humor, sweetness, daring, and extravagance.

I’d firmly plug my nose, look him fondly in the eye, and say with a wink, “Oh you kid!”

You can reach Deborah Chan at tabbytoes@comcast.net. Previous columns are available at spokesman.com/ columnists/.

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