Hey, Kiddo: Now that you're almost 2 years old, it's high time we started a dialog about that mystical beast called love. I guess by the time you're old enough to date or really care about romantic love, people will be able to swap out their vaginas for the weekend if they don't like them, or find out who they should marry from an app that sniffs pheromones. But none of these amazing technological advances will ever stop people from pulling the same old steaming pile of chocolate when it comes to sailing the choppy seas of love.
Why? Because love is something that originates in the heart but must be translated by the head, and by the time you read this you're going to be all-too aware of the average person's reading comprehension.
They say love is a many splendored thing, and in my case, until I met your father, those splendors came in flavors like "I swear, I don't have a girlfriend, she's just got a key to my apartment because she feeds my cat sometimes" to "I just feel like I'll miss out on drinking a lot with my friends if I hang out with you."
I kid. Sorta. OK, lemme try this again.
Love can be very simple. Like, the way you love your goldfish crackers and how you want them in the middle of the night and it's the only thing you want to fall back asleep? Goldfish crackers, as far as I can tell, are totally going to stick around in the world and always be a thing and so you can count on those goldfish crackers. And they won't, like, be texting their ex on Christmas Day saying "I miss you" and then when you ask, "Why did you do that?" the goldfish crackers will not say, "Because it's true." Goldfish crackers would not do that to you.
Love can also be super complicated. Like how you love watching the The Cat in the Hat and we love that about you but how we can't let you watch it ALL the time because then, what, you're not even eating anymore because it's just ‘round the clock The Cat in the Hat, and of course we want to give you what you want but we're your parents and not your friends and so? I will show you another good trick that I know.
Reciprocity. Reciprocity is when one person is very loving and nice and does thoughtful things, while the other person is also loving and nice and does thoughtful things, instead of, say, still looking at pictures every single day obsessively of someone he made out with three years ago in secret who happens to look like a ferret.
I know, right? Ferrets aren't datable.
Once, in the 3rd grade, Steven [REDACTED] stared at me after drinking a particularly mustache-y gulp of whole milk. "I hate your guts," I told him.
"Yeah? Well I love yours," he said. After that, we never spoke again and nothing ever happened. So that's another way things can play out.
What else? I've found that the Van Halen song "When It's Love" is actually pretty salient. Jack FM plays it constantly in the mornings, and I have a feeling this isn't going to change at all in the next two decades.
Speaking of two decades, that's all it took for me to find it. Then one night, I walked into a bar and met your father. Actually, I'd already met him but didn't even remember, because he'd cut his hair or something? (This is a good argument against spending your 20s in the South, drinking.)
He did something really simple, like buy one of my friends who was leaving town a going-away drink, but he did it in this way that I knew he was going to be my goldfish crackers. So, in this way, you already intuitively understand exactly what love feels like, but you can still take as long as you want to figure it out.
Which is good, because you're gonna hear the shit out of this word for most of your life, and it will range from the completely insignificant "OMG — LOVE this balsamic vinaigrette" to the deeply felt, let-no-man-tear-asunder variety. The important thing is to know which end of an ace is up. And that is the end with the very, very sharp point.
Tracy Moore is a writer living in Los Angeles. Here's hoping they make heart-shaped goldfish crackers.