If You Feel Sick, It Could Be Love
By Dorsetta Hale

We’re longtime subscribers of National Geographic magazine. Not me in particular but rather the man I live with, my husband. I admire the photography. The pictures can be beautiful or grotesque, sometimes both, but they’re always fascinating. I typically skim over the text, but February’s cover issue, “Love: The Chemical Reaction,” caught my eye. I actually read the entire article written by Lauren Slater. I couldn’t resist the bold headline; “Love and obsessive compulsive disorder could have a similar chemical profile. Translation: Love and mental illness may be difficult to tell apart. Translation: Don’t be a fool. Stay away.”

It’s so easy to answer your 5-year-old when they ask, “Why did you marry Daddy?” All the wonderful little things about him that added up to romantic love are still fresh in your mind. Ten years later when your teenager asks you again, you wonder the same question yourself. Now you’ll have scientific proof. You looked at him; he looked at you. You dated, got to know each other and fell in-love or in scientific terms, became ill, seriously, but in a good way.

It’s all so clear to me now. That’s why I wanted to hug the man to my right at the grocery store checkout, whose only purchase was two dozen roses. Instead I simply said, “It’s much nicer to receive flowers ‘Just because,’ rather than on Valentine’s Day.”
He blushed and then the man to my left who’d just plopped down a six pack of beer and tortilla chips quipped to everyone, “He must have been bad. That’s the only time I give flowers.”

The gentleman to my right turned and said, “No, she’s right. They’re just because.”

All the ladies in the vicinity smiled and shook our heads. The poor guy was obviously in the first stage of romantic love. There’s not too much you can do once you’ve been exposed to it.

I used to be given flowers on non-holidays. Now whenever my husband does something for me ‘just because,’ it usually involves a trip to Home Depot.

When you live near the coast, there’s really no excuse to be unromantic. Inspiration is literally everywhere, even in the parking lots. I was just at Oceana High School and as I was leaving I was awestruck by the shear beauty of the vistas all around me. Twenty years ago, had my husband been there with me, I would have had an idea and he would have been willing. It’s no wonder the school closes the gate at night.

I’ll be curious to see if my husband reads this month’s National Geographic on his own because the picture of the couple embraced on the cover may throw him off into thinking it’s another one of my “Women’s” magazines. If he doesn’t, I’ll gently prod him on. I’ll use scientific terms I learned from the article, like oxytocin and dopamine. He’s a sucker for sweet talk.

Copyright 2006, Dorsetta Hale

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