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Love? Oh, right ...

Hearing or saying "I love you" is like the calm before the howling storm. These simple words have been the mystery that has befuddled men and women for centuries. And, that mystery has rarely been completely figured out. Rarely, but on occasion it has.

Young people (like we all once were) either hesitate to say these words, or repeat them offhandedly at almost every conceivable occasion. Men quake at the thought of uttering them to "that special woman". Young girls dream of saying them to "that hot guy" but never actually do. Guys learn early (mostly in locker rooms) to refer to girls from every other angle, but to always avoid that four-letter word - love. Yes, they do say the word; they love pizza, fast cars and winning the big game. They will even say "I luv you", though sheepishly, when their mother or (worse yet) their grandmother gives them no way out.

Some guys and gals learn to use it as a weapon. It can be used to coerce, embolden, embarrass, calm or greatly unbalance individuals. Such usage is something I warn my daughters about.

Love is everywhere. It sure is. It's in commercials, songs and poetry. On TV, it was even a boat. In furniture, it's a type of seat. In cars, it's a bug. According to the singers Captain and Tennille, even muskrats feel it. In the musical, "My Fair Lady," it's pronounced "loverly." It's biblical; "The love of money is the root of all evil." (If you want a teenager to read the Bible, forbid them to read Song of Solomon.)

There are so many sayings concerning love. Love is in the air (better than smog or burning tires). Love is the key (it does unlock some doors, but not bank vaults). Love is a many splendered thing (what exactly is "splendered?). Love is never having to say that you are sorry (so why does my wife insist on me saying it all the time?). You can't live on love (but, here, the love of money does come in handy). Love is eternal (but I won't be on this earth long enough to prove that). Love song, love story, love of your life, love those Indianapolis Colts.

We celebrate the idea of love with weddings, anniversaries and Valentine's Day. Traditionally we think of red hearts (what a bloody mess), of Cupid and his arrows (ouch) and syrupy sweet cards (now that could be a sticky situation if you do or don't give one back).

When I was younger (all right, far younger), I was trying to get up enough nerve to ask a girl on a date. My father sat in his easy chair, didn't say a word and lightly smiled; you know, that smile that hints that he knows something that you don't? He knew the lesson shown in the musical, "Fiddler on the Roof," where the old man asks, "Do you love me?" His wife replies, "My parents said we'd learn to love each other. I'm your wife. For 25 years I've washed your clothes, cooked your meals, given you children. I've fought with you, starved with you. If that's not love, what is? I suppose I do."