the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

I Love You


This afternoon, Sophia and I watched some reality/food TV show called “Take Home Chef” on TLC. In the show, hunky Australian-British chef, Curtis Stone, accosts clueless women shopping in a Los Angeles supermarket and invites himself over to their home to cook an elegant meal. In the episode we saw, Curtis finds a pretty brunette in the cereal aisle, a stay-at-home mommyblogger in the making, who finds it impossible to say no to Curtis’s offer of a “surprise” dinner for her vegetarian husband (or be on TV).

As Angelenos, Sophia and I recognized the supermarket as the upscale “Gelson’s Market” which must have assured the producers that the “victim” would be in the right upscale demographic. As Curtis and the wife drive home (from now on I will refer to her as FM — future mommyblogger), Curtis asks FM to call her husband to make sure he won’t be home until five o’clock, plenty of time to prepare the surprise meal.

FM calls her husband on the phone. They blab a bit. Before FM hangs up, the husband says, “I love you,” and FM answers, “I love you, too.” How cute!

Later, in the show, as Curtis prepares his eggplant and risotto, FM calls her husband again, to double check his arrival time. Just like before, the conversation ends with mutual “I love you”‘s.

As Sophia and I sat on the couch, watching this nonsense:

Neil: “Did you see how they always said “I love you” to each other? Every single time. Maybe that was our problem. Maybe we didn’t say “I love you” enough.”

Sophia: “We always said, “I love you.”

Neil: “But not after every phone call.”

Sophia: “That was not our problem.”

Neil: “Maybe we should try their technique. Always saying “I love you” at the end of every phone call.”

Sophia: “Now?”

Neil: “Why not?”

Sophia: “We’re separated. Just because you’re here doesn’t change our status.”

Neil: “We still love each other, right?”

Sophia: “Sure… but…”

Neil: “Maybe this will just help us to relate better…”

Sophia: “It’s cute, but…”

Neil: “But don’t you love me, regardless of…”

Eventually, I wore Sophia down and she agreed to try my experiment.

The rest of the TV show sucked. The dopey husband came home to his big surprise, tried to look happy while really looking pissed, and the couple ate their vegetarian meal while Curtis said goodbye and left their lives forever.

Later, I went to Starbucks for a cup of coffee. As I tried to do the crossword puzzle, Sophia called me up and asked me to pick up some groceries at the supermarket (not Gelson’s).

Neil: “Sure.”

Sophia: “Thanks.”

Neil: “I love you, Sophia.”

Sophia: “Oh, right. I love you, too.”

As I drove to the supermarket, Sophia called me again.

Sophia: “You know, I’m actually pretty hungry now. Rather than going to the supermarket, could you go to the Thai restaurant and bring back some soup and a noodle dish?”

Neil: “OK.”

Sophia: “I’ll see you soon.”

Neil: “Wait… wait…”

Sophia: “Yes… yes, I love you.”

Neil: “I love you, too.”

I made it to our favorite Thai restaurant, which we think is run by three Thai teenagers, who take turns cooking, serving, and singing Thai karaoke.

I ordered some spicy noodles.

“What type of meat?” asked Thai Teenager #1.

I called Sophia on the phone and asked her the same question. She wanted “beef.”

“Beef,” I told the Thai Teenager, then sat down to wait for my order. As I listened to Thai Teenager #2 singing some Thai disco song, I realized that something was wrong with the world. I quickly dialed up Sophia on the phone.

Neil: “You forgot to say “I love you.” at the end of the last conversation.”

Sophia: “No, I did say it. But you hung up too quickly to hear it.”

Neil: “No, you didn’t. I said “I love you,” and then I was waiting for your response.”

Sophia: “You never said ‘I love you!” You asked me “What type of meat?” I said “Beef.” And then you hung up.”

Neil: “No, you said, “Beef.” I said, “I love you.” And then nothing.”

Sophia: “You’re crazy. You didn’t say anything after I said “Beef.””

Neil: “Maybe you didn’t hear me. Maybe it was the reception. Or you thought I said “Beef” when I said “I love you.””

Sophia: “I’m not going to mistake “Beef” for “I love you.””

Despite wanting to continue with my experiment, I knew this was not for us.

Neil: “You know what? I think if we continue saying ‘I love you” after every phone call, we’re not only going to get divorced, we won’t even want to talk to each other.”

Sophia: “Thank God you realize that!”

Neil: “Do you want white rice or brown rice?”

Sophia: “Brown rice.”

Neil: “OK, see you soon.”

Sophia: “Bye.”

Later, I went home and we enjoyed our Thai food lovingly prepared by Thai Teenager #3. The rest of the night was very nice and we didn’t say “I love you” even once.

Sometimes, love is never having to say “I love you.”

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Dating for Liberals


  1. treespotter

    nice. very nice.

    and oh, i love them rice with pineapple in it.

  2. better safe than sorry

    i watch that show a couple of times a week, i did a blog on curtis!
    the thing i don’t like about the show, is they don’t show enough of him with his guest doing the actual cooking. the thing i love about the show (and i’m now adding to my cooking style) is that when he tosses a salad or mixes ingredients, he uses his hands, really gets the feel of the ingredients. this is how i’m tossing my salads now and i find it does make a difference, things get coated properly.
    i love you.

  3. ams

    I agree Neil. Who needs to make everyone else choke on their vegetarian dinners due to the avalanche of pukeatiousness that cannot be held back.

    I always have to laugh though when one of my colleagues gf’s rings him and tells him she loves him and you can just hear him saying “me too” on the phone. Vom.

    I love you.

  4. Nics

    There’s a DJ called Scott Mills on Radio One and sometime in the past year he started telling his callers that he loved them. It was funny at first, now it’s just sad, it just takes away from the meaning.

  5. kristen

    Now I’m wondering what favorite Thai restaurant you go to in Redondo and is it the favorite one we always go to when visiting?

  6. Scarlet

    Haha…”Beef!” “Beef, too”

  7. Mr. Fabulous

    Mrs. Fab and I always say it at the end of every phone call. In fact we say it so much during the course of the day it is probably sickening.

    But now I am thinking we should say “Beef”. Something about that appeals to me…

  8. gorillabuns

    the eternal worrier in me is quite sure, if i don’t say i love you at the end of every phone conversation, my husband is going to die in a fiery plane crash with the last words remaining, “i want beef.”


    1st, The couple sparring you and Sophia do is far more vomitous/sweet than the constant “I love you”s

    2nd,That’s how my mom gets off the phone with EVERYONE, (and I may be turning into her)

    Love you, talk to you later.

  10. plain jane

    I finally figured that shopping at an uspcale market is how they guarantee that they end up going a gorgeous kitchen. I laugh to think if he “picked me up” and came back to my ratty kitchen!

  11. Deborah

    I have an odd fascination with Take Home Chef even though I noticed that he only picks beautiful, thin and generally well to do women (and the occassional man to make it look “unbiased”). I do think my cooking skills have improved watching the charming aussie come up with yummy dishes on the fly. But I digress. When L & I were getting close to separating he did the “I love you” on the phone bit ad naseum. The more he said it, the more I wanted to pull away. Now, we can can say it, or not, on the phone & now know that truly our love is grounded in a place that doesn’t require cutesy sign-offs. Good luck to the two of you, limbo is a hard place to be.

  12. paintergirl

    I’ve seen that show and he always picks cute girls.The husband was mad because he thinks his wife will be thinking about the hot Aussie in her kitchen everytime she makes risotto.

    We have solved our I love you dilemma. We have a made up word that we say. Why do we think it’s weird to say “I love you”?

  13. Megan

    Like my big bro Fab, I’m an expresser. My hub and I say it at the end of every phone call, too. Always have. Everyone is different, so just go with the flow.

    And Neil, beef dude. Seriously.

  14. Paris Parfait

    Ha Ha! What’s that old saying – different strokes for different folks?

  15. Alexandra

    This is so funny! You’ve done it again! & oh that is so true- I’d much rather have someone show they love me through actions than by words-though I like the sound of the words too!
    (p.s.) To answer your question, Yuki sushi is this amazing sushi restaurant here in Portland on NW 23rd. I just was there last evening in fact! The very, very, VERY best!

  16. Pearl

    Neil, let’s pretend that Sophia does not read — or edit — your blog. So here’s what you have to do:

    Being that she’s a linguist, you don’t just say “I love you” in English; you have to say it in countless languages.

    Even better, leave little folded-up notes for her where she’s sure to find them (in her purse, in her lunch bag, in her pillowcase, in her Curious George undies….)and have them simply say “I love you” in the language of your choice, or pick a quote about love to leave in a note. eg. “A day without kisses is like a night without stars.”

    If nothing else, you will put a smile on her face and a spring in her step.

  17. bbreath

    Wow. I think this may be the first non-sarcastic comment ever from me…

    I think that people who force the “I love you’s” out, or those that form the saying “I love you” habit ruin the meaning behind it. Love isn’t a habit, after all. It’s an emotion, a feeling.

    I’d much rather say it, or have it said, when it’s really heartfelt.

    Now DON’T EVER tell anyone you heard me say that. I have a rep to protect.

  18. ms. sizzle

    ha ha! this is brilliant.

  19. EEK

    It’s definitely different for everybody. The worst is when somebody says it at the wrong moment. My ex-boyfriend and I were having an argument once where he was blatantly in the wrong. (I’m frequently the perpetrator of the offense myself, but in this case it was definitively his fault.)

    During a pause in the argument, he said, ‘Uh, I love you?’ I told him to shut-up. I was in no mood to be placated.

  20. Mist 1

    I don’t even say “goodbye” before I hang up.

  21. psychomom

    I don’t mind “I love you” especially when it comes from my teenage boys who rarely say it without wanting something. My older son drives me crazy with “do you hate me?” if I get a little upset with him.

  22. ajooja

    My wife and I say “I love you” like crazy. We’re almost sickening, but not quite.

    (Of course, that probably means we are.)

    “You’re schmoopy.”

    “No, you’re schmoopy.”

  23. Jurgen Nation

    I find myself saying “I love you” to Matt automatically without even realizing it. Do you have any idea how creepy that is? Oh, wait.

    I’m going to e-mail your post to him and call for an immediate change to Beef.

    Beef, Neil. Thank you for this.

  24. Neil

    Years ago, we used to get our slang from Shakespeare. Now, we watch too much TV. Yesterday, we learned that “meh” came from the Simpsons. Today, I looked up “schmoopy,” another term I never use. Of course, I then found out that it was popularized on “Seinfeld.”

  25. Bre

    I always end a phone call with friends and family with “love you!” which gets awkward when I’m discombobulated at work…

  26. mmariem3

    I love all the women on Take Home Chef change once they get home into something a little more glamorous while cooking.

    Hilarious though… I unfortunately do the “I love you”s to most of my friends. I’m sick; I know.

  27. Crankster

    Call me crazy, but nothing says “I love you” quite like running all over town to get food for someone.

  28. Bama Girl

    My husband and I don’t end every conversation with “I love you,” but I am amazed how many times he says it when he is around a bunch of other Marines. Tough guys say, “I love you!”

  29. emma

    What a dumb concept for a show, I mean it would be better if the hunky chef picked up single girls and then it would be exciting to see if he seduces the girl through the meal, not wait to see if the dopey husband comes home.

    As for saying i love you all the time it just smacks of insecurity in my humble opinion.

  30. 2nd Pearl Past the Post

    Oh the tyranny of prescriptions for love…saying it often nusances it enough to break the brain…didn’t you once post on that? I love you to mean (anyway /when you please me/ whether I want to or not / yah whatever/ can we go to the bedroom / pretty please) etc?

  31. brooke

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, but everytime I read about you and Sophia I thank the gods I’ve never married.

  32. Neil

    Brooke — But look how you have to take out your own garbage!

  33. s@bd

    FM is ME!
    (Except that I’m not brunette, my husband isn’t vegetarian, we don’t live in LA, I don’t have a cell phone, I don’t shop at Gelson’s and I’ve never been on the show.)

    BUT, my husband and I always say it.

    I especially enjoy making him say it when he’s at work. Especially if he’s with a bunch of cops. (I’m not all sweetness and light, you know.)

  34. Dating Dummy

    Cute. And sometimes saying ‘I love you’ means saying someone’s cooking is good, even if it isn’t.

  35. Cover Your Mouth

    I’d say “I love you” is implied in driving all over town to get your gal dinner and ensuring the correct type of meat be included.

  36. Becky

    Showing it is best. It’s not actually just an emotion, it’s a verb and not just a sexual verb.

    Who needs some mushy amorphous emotion?

    It’s the service to another; whether in chasing all over town to buy food, or taking out the garbage or giving physical pleasure or changing diapers or paying bills or whatever.

    But saying it is important, too.

    It’s a “both/and” situation. One without the other doesn’t work, or doesn’t work for long. How often you say it depends. How often you SHOW it should be often often often.

    I’m just saying.

  37. Dana

    Look! It’s a chance to bring back the old expression “Where’s the beef?” when your spouse forgets to say it–that is, “holds the beef.” Isn’t it interesting how you managed to make a beef over saying “beef”?

    Did you order both noodles AND rice?

  38. Janet

    Ok, this is freaky. You read my mind with this post. I just jotted down a note to self to write a post about the Take Home Chef. Now I have to wait at least a few days more before I call ahead, I mean post it.:)

  39. camille

    Very interesting indeed. My blog starts with the words… Beef is over-rated. Try it. Happy reading, i do hope you beef it as much as i beefed writing it.

  40. nobody

    Ah. I signed my post Camille, so you didn’t get a link to my blog, having recommended you to read more about saying beef! Well it’s at anyway. Beef x

  41. Two Roads

    I’m in the contingent that says I love you when they feel a deep emotion. I don’t withhold it on purpose but I have to feel it to say it regardless of what the other person on the line does. So if they say I love you I don’t feel an obligation to reciprocate.

  42. melanie

    fried rice and patience… its whats for dinner!

  43. Roberta

    I never order beef in Thai restaurants… not gonna lie.
    Not gonna lie is another expression I picked up from the young kids. Makes me feel all hip.
    (That was a bit of reincorporation for you.)
    Maybe I’m wrong. I really could be wrong. But I thing having lots of sex is way better for keeping the love alive then saying I love you at the end of every phone interaction.
    Not gonna lie.

  44. peefer

    I say I love you to my children all the time because A) I want it fully-engrained in their heads, and B) I’m generally afraid they think I’m an ass.

  45. SFGary

    I would have kicked the guy out of the house if he had served up risotto and eggplant.

    On the subj. of I love you’s how come there’s a 50%(is that about right?) divorce rate if a bunch of these married folk are saying I love you? something is just not working.

  46. Samm

    This “I LOVE YOu” thingy, i always use it on hubby whenever i want something, or just when he pisses me off bad. And it ALWAYS worked, lol. Me dam devilish, muahahaha…

  47. V-Grrrl

    Me, I love the three Thai teenagers offering karaoke and brown rice.

    And for the record, I think Neil should end his phone conversations with “Chicken.”

    Me, I’m going for “Pork.”

    Sophia, now I know all about your major beef with Neil.

  48. Linda Freedman (TherapyDoc)

    So bogus, this I Love You thing on the phone. Nice, but I can’t tell you how many couples I treated where the guy said I love you while loving someone else at that moment (physical sense of the word). It’s gonna’ take more than talk, dear.

  49. Brian

    Thank you

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