Love is in the air
Fact: The English language has 1,025,110 words. Fourteen new words are created every day.
Opinion: The most overused word is “love.”
I love macaroni and cheese; Mozart; my orange cat, Louie; and the purple bougainvillea that is still blooming in my house.
How do I like your new hairdo? Love it.
Would I like to go to the (fill in the blank) with you? Love to.
How did I like the homemade prickly pear and prune preserves you gave me for Christmas? Loved them.
We are an enthusiastic people. We express ourselves in superlatives. We don’t just like, admire, esteem, enjoy or appreciate something; we love it. Luv it. Love love love it. XXXOOO — that’s us. We believe Virgil’s “Love conquers all” and the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love.”
Love is the ultimate expression of behavioral, biological, spiritual, selfless, compassionate, longing, romantic, familial, desirable, appreciative, benevolent, emotional emotion.
Our religious books tell us how to love our god and our neighbors. They describe what love is — kind, patient and unselfish.
Love is the ageless subject of music, painting, poetry, novels, movies, greeting cards and jokes: “I love you more than coffee, but don’t make me prove it.”
For Valentine’s Day, we don’t want any of that highbrow stuff. We want romance, chocolate, flowers, Champagne, dinner out, stuffed animals and lots of valentines.
Or, maybe not. Nuala O’Faolain’s forceful memoir of a Dublin woman, “Are You Somebody?” describes what she loved throughout her life. First, as a young woman: romance, passion and affairs. Then, as she aged, she found things to love besides lovers: health, landscapes, friends, food and drink, books, music, a cat and a dog, career — and herself, as a mature woman.
I can identify with that. One of my happiest Valentine’s Days lately was buying myself a new mop that really worked. Simple joys make me happy.
Happiness is a popular subject of books and lectures these days: how to be happy and stay happy. One way, I heard someone say, is to recognize when we’re happy. We spend a lot of time reminding ourselves of things that make us miserable; we should make a point to tell ourselves when we’re happy.
When we see the sun shining through a maple tree in a particularly beautiful way, we should tell ourselves, “That scene makes me happy.” Simple joys.
The opposite picture of soaring romantic love is that of bleak, broken hearts. I was in my 20s when I called my mother to tell her — choking with tears — how upset a discarded beau was.
“He said he might kill himself,” I told her.
All my mother said was, “So, he thinks you’re the last potato on the plate, huh?”
Good point. Excellent point. Get over yourself.
I love (oops) the “archy and mehitabel” stories by the late Don Marquis, newspaper columnist/philosopher of the 1920s. He is famous for inventing the literary character of Archy, a newsroom cockroach who typed in lower case because he couldn’t operate the shift key. Archy wrote about other newsroom creatures: Freddy the rat, a moth and a lightning bug — “a regular hick from the real country.”
Mostly Archy wrote about a scraggly alley cat named Mehitabel who said she was the reincarnation of Cleopatra. Mehitabel believed in free love and bouncing back from misadventures.
Whatever befell her, especially romantic misfortune, Mehitabel maintained a positive attitude.
“still in the ring …,” she told Archy, “ … and always jolly in spite of hard luck.”
“Toujours gai” (“always happy”) was her motto for life:
“tojours gai archy
“what the h dash double l
“i am always merry and always ladylike”
I love a cat with a healthy philosophy for life.