Monday, February 25, 2013

"you don't love me!"

Talking to a friend this morning about a problem he was confronting with ill-concealed irritation, the two of us segued into a riff on the cri de coeur, "You don't love me!" It was silly and we laughed ... and it was serious.

In how many obvious and camouflaged ways does that cry from the heart crop up? From the stereotyped Jewish mother to the subtle wheedlings anyone else might employ: "You don't love me!"

One evening, a long time ago, I was in the throes of some compelling problem as I went out to a Chinese restaurant with my friend Dave. The two of us ordered and ate and discussed some of my problem. But when the fortune cookies arrived, mine held a peculiar and somehow jolting observation: "He will help you as much as he can, but he cannot help you much."

The specificity of the fortune struck me as peculiar for a fortune cookie ... mostly, when you crack open those dry and largely flavorless containers, you get bland and flavorless generalities like "love is right around the corner" or something similar. The fortune I received seemed to cut through the current situation like a hot knife through butter.

Mostly, "you don't love me" means you don't love and understand me in ways that I might find convincing. I demand that you love me in ways that I will credit and find soothing. I am a foot-stomping child: Do it my way! ... even if I am not entirely sure what my way is. Because I am in the throes of a cri de coeur and because, in our humanity, we both feel pain, I seem to feel that I have a right to require you to be on board and in agreement and ... make me feel better.

It's all pretty human, but also it is interesting: What in the wide world of sports makes me imagine that you don't love me, that you are withholding anything whatsoever? I may throw as many tantrums as I like, but does that mean -- even if 'you' are as unyielding as a piece of gravel -- that the love is somehow missing?

It's something to consider, I think.

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