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