Friday, December 07, 2007

"Love you, Bye!"

All the experts say not to leave the TV on or drink too much if you’re trying to sleep. Mostly, I ignore the experts but sometimes when I can’t fall asleep (and I think it’s because of sound, light, and maybe drunken stupor) I listen to a book on tape. Last night was one of those times. But when I fell asleep I had a dream that the earphones went into my brain and even when I took them off, and shut down the CD player, Harry Potter and his friends were still talking to me. It was a heinous situation. Me and Harry, connected forever, yet never finding out what the outcome was of the final book because it just kept playing disc 10 in my head. But thank God I woke up and that ended. And speaking of endings (nice transition huh), I have a difficult time knowing the most appropriate way to end an e-mail or a letter.

When I say appropriate I mean with people who you know and like but with whom you have no relationship. Or with people you want to get to know but don’t want to seem forward or pushy. With some of the people you can say “sincerely” (even if you’re not) And with some you can’t or shouldn’t say, “best regards” because that sounds so formal. And you don’t want to say “hugs” or “kisses” because that sounds so unsophisticated and familiar – unless it’s a good friend or family. “With affection” sounds old and stodgy. And “I love you to pieces” only works with a limited number of people. So I have taken to signing off with, “cheers” (how very British) or “all the best”. Those are nice, right? Those work if it’s a written communication, but what do you say when you are ending a phone call? Signing off is always difficult for me. I guess part of it is that in my family no one ever said ‘goodbye’ to end a phone call—they just hung up. I mean there were any number of times when I was finishing a sentence and before I got to the end I realized that my mother or my aunts were no longer on the other end. When they were finished listening or talking they simply hung up. Yes, it does account for some of my phone phobias, but I know they must be overcome in order for me to succeed (what crap). Anyway, I never know whether to say “see you” or “speak to you” or “catch you later.”
Jordan and her friends all say “Love you, bye”

When I was growing up my parents hardly ever said “I love you”. They loved me but it was not necessary to say it—as far as they were concerned. In fact, I never exchanged “I love yous”, with my high school and college friends – until recently because I really do love them and we’re of an age where it’s important to share this affection. But when we were younger, although we did enjoy each other’s company, we would have been uncomfortable had we actually declared our love. Even our boyfriends or more like boys we went out with, would never have made the “love commitment” unless they were so aroused it did damage to their brains (or elsewhere) and in their stupor they blurted their affection.

It’s not the case today. Everyone says I love you. (It should be a song). For example, I was walking around in Costco today and I overheard at least five people on cell phones say, “love you, bye”. Kids today find it easy to say “love you” but these were not just kids. One was an elderly black woman. One, a busy middle aged white grandma. I’m actually not sure if she was the grandma but she was busy chasing after some rowdy 6/7 year olds who seemed determined to destroy any toy within their reach. And no, they were not just playing with the toys, they were heaving them like it was an Olympic sport. Anyway, I don’t know who grandma was talking to, but in between “Don’t do that!” and “I’m going to kill you” she was loving someone, “bye.” Then there was a well dressed man in his fifties who was distracted but took the time to say “Love you, bye” before he hung up with whomever. And there were two young women talking to a friend who they claimed they both loved.

I can’t remember if I told Seth I loved him at the end of every conversation, or if I did it with Jordan. Probably not, because it wasn’t how I grew up—despite the fact that I love them dearly. I didn’t think I had to say it. But I was wrong and should have taken every opportunity to tell them what they meant to me. My mother now says it to the kids when she talks to them and Jordan once mentioned that David’s mom didn’t say “I love you”, when they talked, so she just kept saying it until grandma responded in the same way. [Editor’s note: that seems to have changed – most calls now end with “I love you”]

In a way, the casualness of the “love you, bye” makes it not as meaningful as a real, “I love You”. But that doesn’t make it bad—it just seems to minimalize the importance of the words because you hear people say it so often, and usually in a most casual way without thinking about what it means. At least that’s what appears to happen. But who knows, maybe I just need to look in the mirror and practice saying “I love you” or even “love you, bye” in ways that appear meaningful and sincere. So to all our readers (and I mean this from the bottom of my keyboard), I say, “Love you, bye.” We’re just sayin...Iris

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