Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love You … Is There an App for That?

Love You … Is There an App for That?
By Cappy Hall Rearick

"I like good strong words that mean something."
- Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

This morning while I wandered the aisles of Winn-Dixie looking for a box of Bisquick, I heard someone say, Love you! I’ve been hearing that a lot these days.

The young woman had conveyed those words into her cell phone. See you at eight o’clock then, okay? Love you!

Having intentionally taken in every word of her conversation, I continued to walk behind her while listening to see if she intended to say Love you! to someone else. I was not eavesdropping; I was researching. I’m a writer; it’s what I do. Right after she closed her mini-electronic slave and dropped it into her purse, she grabbed items off the shelves helter-skelter at mach speed and tossed them into her buggy: Cheerios, canned diced tomatoes, peanut butter. I got that grocery shopping was not her number one priority at the moment.

Was she thinking Love you! thoughts as she piled staples into her cart, I wondered, or I love you thoughts? There’s a difference. Who, I wondered might the recipient have been? Mother? Father? Husband? Child? Lover? I smiled at the thought of the woman meeting her lover in an out-of-the-way, romantic café at eight o’clock, drinking champagne. I recalled how she had inflected her words, how she had lowered her voice to match a throaty Demi Moore. Was he her version of Ashton Kutcher and she a willful siren, or was she just coming down with the Flu?

I continued researching while I looked everywhere hoping to discover where the Winn-Dixie gremlins had hidden the freakin’ Bisquick. Suddenly, she of the clandestine lifestyle, reached the end of the aisle and disappeared from view. I thought of following her but went on to Aisle Three instead. That’s where I heard, “See you later. Love you.”

Spinning around, I saw another woman who, like the hussy on Aisle Four, had spoken almost the exact words to someone on her cell. While pushing her two-year-old in the grocery cart, she punched in numbers on her cell. Good thing she wasn’t texting, we’d have collided. (Multi-tasking is second nature to today’s young women; my generation did not get the memo.) I still needed to find Bisquick, so I chose not to devote any more time “researching.”
Later while I was driving home sans the Bisquick I never found, and with a nice bottle of Pino Grigio I did find, I started thinking about the words Love you! When was it that they began to replace I love you? How long ago did it become an acceptable salutation, the final words spoken before ending a phone call?
A part of me would like to believe it conveys love sincerely directed to the person on the other end of the line, a gentle closure. Another part of me says, BALONEY! When tossed out at the end of a call Love you! is like saying ‘Whatever.’

My sons end our phone visits with Love you! and admittedly it gives me the warm fuzzies no matter how quickly the words are said. The Grandkids from Hell say it too, because they know I am three times older than they are and not getting any younger. They don’t want me to come back and haunt them from that big Elder Hostel in the sky.

Do I sound like a female version of Andy Rooney? Maybe so, but I ask you: why did Love you! have to replace those three little words we all long to hear? Why are they tossed like a European salad at the end of a phone call? Why not say the words within the meat and potatoes of the conversation? What is so hard about uttering the old-fashioned, grammatically correct salutation, Goodbye, before leaving Cell Phone City? 

As endearing as the words sounded to me while wandering endlessly down grocery Aisles Two, Three and Four searching for Bisquick I never found, Love you! strikes me as a bit disingenuous. At some point, the cherished words I love you have been replaced with a tag line. 

Would it kill people addicted to cell phones and cyber space to say something a little more sincere? How about this: “Hey, this may sound dorky, but I love you and I really mean it.”

Do you think there will be an app for that one of these days?