The Healthiest Word

The woman asked me, “Why do you tell people you love them?”

I’d just said, “Love you, brother,” to the man who bagged up some groceries for me. The man always greets me with a smile and a good to see you. I said, “Because that’s how I feel.”
     “But you don’t even know him.” She sounded appalled.
     “I don’t have to know somebody to feel loving towards them.”
     “Nobody ever really feels loving towards someone, unless they know them.”
     “I don’t know what to tell you.”
     “I mean I know when I like somebody, or, sometimes, you know, sometimes you know straight away you don’t like someone.”
     “Hold up.”
     Her head tilts. The movement asks, “What?”
     “How is it knowing you like or don’t like someone without knowing them works, and feeling loving towards someone you don’t know makes no sense to you?”

“It’s two different things.”

He knew the healthiest word and said it. “Okay.”

Two hours later, they were out for a walk. A neighbor down the street had a box of puppies out front so they could get some sun. He watched her face light up with joy when she saw the puppies, hurrying over to get a closer look.

“Honey, look! We can adopt one, she said so. Look at them. Don’t you just love them?!”

He knew the healthiest word, so he smiled and said it. “Okay.”

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