2019-03-15 / Commentary

I Love It

It’s not a criticism; It’s an observation

“I love it.” Not I love her or I love you, or any sentence using the most misused word in English. I love it has become a go-to when real words, or real emotions, aren’t readily available. People on television use that phrase so much I’m starting to notice.

It’s like that really goofy song you hate that gets stuck in your head; you don’t want it there but it won’t go away. Now every time I hear those three words, I tense up. An overreaction for sure but I can’t help it at this point.

Not sure when I first noticed this phrase, but I’ve been more irritable than a married man on Valentine’s Day since. I’ve almost stopped watching some sports argument programs. In truth, the shows that feature this phrase the most aren’t really that good. I love it pops up when someone is caught off guard and has nothing on the teleprompter to spontaneously read.

I think this whole tectonic shift in language, emotion, and finally habit was caused by those men in the late ’60s who decided to be more sensitive and less traditionally manly. Men like Alan Alda, Phil Donahue, and Yani. The folks who altered the legacy of Daniel Boone, Lewis and Clark, Chuck Norris, and John Wayne, and left us with Toxic Masculinity, fanny packs, and man buns.

Men I grew up emulating didn’t say love at the drop of a hat, or to fill empty space in a conversation. Men only said I love you to someone they really loved, and then only when every other action, deed, or sentence wasn’t sufficient.

I definitively discovered my father loved me when I was 14. I had run away from home over a haircut and he took me inside to call the local authorities off the search when I returned. As he tried to reprimand me without getting mad, he began crying—the first time that ever happened. The second time I saw him cry was 35 years later, when my siblings and I surprised him and our mother with a trip to New Orleans for their 50th wedding anniversary. He didn’t cry much.

I don’t remember the first time he actually uttered the words I love you. I’m pretty sure my mother said it the first time I pooped in a toilet rather than a diaper. I guess that explains part of the problem. Women and men have different criteria about their feelings and how they express them. At least they used to.

Now people routinely love everything. Sportscasters love the latest LeBron dunk. Foodies love the dessert at a hot local restaurant that offers some exotic sweetener, mixed with unknown fruit flavors, and a mundane sauce with a French name. And every woman alive really, really loves her BFF’s latest haircut.

Today, the only word more overused than love is amazing. When I was a teenager amazing was hard to do. An amazed reaction only resulted when something was, well, amazing. Now everything from cat videos to home remodels to Velveeta cheese dip is amazing. Tyler Florence recently said Applebee’s salads were amazing.

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