There’s not much one can count on these days –but February is still loyal, and comes around every year touting “love” — whatever that is – or is about to be. I have this very scary cartoon patched to my kitchen wall; It pictures a human woman with her arms around a shrimp about her size. The caption reads: “The other day I told my A.I. (artificial Intelligence, in case you’ve been hiding under a rock) that I love shrimp tempura. And it said, ‘ What’s that?’ And I repeated in a surprised voice, ‘What’s shrimp tempura?’ and IT said, ‘No. What is love?’”

Do YOU have an answer?

When I wrote my first February column lo! those many years ago, I interviewed a bunch of people and received a variety of responses none of which had any connection with the others.

Of course, there are all kinds of love: for children, relatives, pets, friends, country, eggplant, sports cars, football teams, Paris, a new kitchen, Bradley Cooper, or The Beach. (I know, left out a few things) But I am talking about what is referred to as “romantic” love — the kind that is supposed to last forever but half the time doesn’t. One of the tidbits I recently read in an academic psychology magazine suggested that research showed that “romantic love” (undefined) lasts an average of 18 months. Perhaps it was referring to lust. I never actually followed up on that because it rang very possible to me.

On another angle, I recently received the following answer in all seriousness, to ‘What is love?” from the male half of a 60 year plus marital union: “Love is always giving in to your partner.” Try passing that around at your next dinner party, and let me know who starts the fireworks and how it turned out.

And in a recent Sunday New York Times VOWS section. an inspirational love story about a couple who met through an internet dating site, proceeded to find out “everything” about each other through emails because they were geographically distant, and after two years finally met – and yay! married!

Both had been widowed, she 85, he, 87. Cynic that I am, when I hear a story of such compatibility, I generally ask for a report on the relationship after about 20 years. Check mate!

I will not seriously address a recent New York Times article about people falling in love with their robots – presumably “programmed” to be the perfect mate – and the subsequent fallout of massive changes in sexual identity, suggesting the label “digisexual.” A discussion for another time.
But what I do know on a very visceral level is that between social media and the unstoppable coming of a profusion of A.I. gimmicks presumably on the market to enhance our life style, human “touch” is on the wane and that is so very sad. A simple touch as an expression of love is losing its relevancy and along with that, the intimacy of human contact.

Perhaps skype can fill that void for some people, but for me, there is nothing like just plain holding hands and piercing the eyes – the tunnel– into another soul. Love is so many things – and its essence so differently defined and accepted by each of us.

I wish you bundles of whatever love is to you. Happy Valentine’s Day.

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