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What is Love...


Unabashed affection

Earlier this week I asked my fake 5th grade class to complete this phrase, “What is love…” I’d like to share some of the totally not real responses that I received.


Love is knowing that Jenny ate all the cupcakes but then when mom finds out all the cupcakes are gone and Jenny feels sick to her tummy then you don’t tell mom that Jenny ate all the cupcakes and instead you blame it on the ferrets because you know that Jenny feels bad enough.

- Christopher R., age 10


I know that I am loved because my parents wash my underwears. No one would wash my underwears if they didn’t love me.

- Snyder M., age 11


Love is Daddy telling Mommy she looks pretty in the morning even though she looks like Gruncle Stan.

- William F., age 11


I want no other, no other lover. This is our life, our time. We are together I need you forever

- Rick A., age 9


Love is not beating up my brother Christopher even though he blamed my ferrets for eating mom’s cupcakes.

- Jenny R., age 10


At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.

- Plato, age 10


Kids are cute. If I had to give one piece of advice about kids, it would be - don’t. They smell funny and don’t get Dad jokes (which are amazing and a staple of my life). “I don’t have time for your trash” is normally the response I get. I just think my kid may grow up unfunny. I’d do a DNA test on us, but I’m afraid who else would show up on my doorstep. I digress.


In the fifth grade, we all used to have to make Valentine’s day boxes. Remember that? The kid’s in my not real fifth grade class don’t do that anymore. I wrapped mine in tinfoil and cut the hair of my sister’s doll to make a red mohawk for my mailbox. I finished it with a littlle silver sword and shield. It was the best Spartan warrior a shoebox that could ever be. I named him "Hearticus." I was a weird kid.


You gave every kid in your class a card, if you recall. It was no small affair to pick out the right set of cards. Feverishly, you would scan every box in the store to pick out the right collection (Smurfs or racecars or Charlie’s Angels). Mine spoke to me. Then you picked out the right card to give to every person. No kid talked during the hand-out process. We just awkwardly looked at each other feigning complete disinterest in fear of giving away our secrets. Tepid and non-specific cards for the boys. Vague sentiments of affection for the girls.


I saved my best Valentine for Lisa Smith (sounds fake, but real). The crème of the Scooby-Doo pack read, “I ruv you Raggy!” That one simple phrase encompassed the entirety of my heart. And Lisa it was yours. Sheepishly into her bedazzled shoebox it went.


At home, I poured opened Hearticus, emptied his contents onto the floor, and with the fear and excitement of a matador I began to read the cards I received. I remember this one still with a time healed dull ache:


“I don’t like you, I like Joel. That’s who. - Lisa S.”


I was crushed of course. I will never love again! Until. Until. Until I opened another.


“I ruv you Raggy” it said. “I think you’re cute. - Gretchen B.”


Behind the dugout in the 8th grade, I kissed Gretchen three times on the lips. That’s a moment I remember in vivid technocolor.


Anyway, here’s what I learned. Love is pain and frustration and comfort and found in dark unexpected places. Love is shared accomplishments, even though we had little to do with them except make macaroni and cheese on a regular basis. Love is Dad jokes and the patience to sit through them. Love is sex and not sex. Love is Buttercups and Dread Pirates. Love is the ability to break a dish and still have a bed to sleep in. Loving is giving another person (or ferret) the power to fuck up and be forgiven. Love is small apartments and hope.

Heck, I am not an expert on love. I do know that I feel love, and I am loved.


I want to hang out with people who say, “I fucking love you,” when drunk. Whether that love soberly manifests in a pat on the back or paint peeling sex. I want surrounded by unabashed lovers.


Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I’ll give you this little advice. Do not be afraid to love even though it will break your heart. Allow yourself to be loved, whether you feel you deserve it or not. Love and be loved often. There is no weakness in love, unless you love cauliflower. Then it’s a monstrosity.


“into her bedazzled shoebox”...Happy Valentine’s Day.