Why is it that we see the heart as the universal body part to represent ‘Love'? This question came to me as I was lying next to Mrs G*Nice hearing the pop-pop-pop of her heart, which was beating like a drum. As much as I'd like to think it was my presence making her heart go all aflutter, the truth is, she'd been scared by noisy fireworks.
Biologically speaking, the heart is just a muscle that pumps the blood around our system. When you actually see it on medical programmes, it is full of tubes, valves and veins and is a long way from the cute graphical representation that we add to our text messages.
When we think about love and what it does to us physically, we think of a special someone who makes our pulse race and our faces flush. This phenomenon is, of course, kick-started by the muscle we call the heart.
Conversely, when relationships go wrong, we talk about being brokenhearted, and the once-positive graphic can be split in half with a huge crack that looks like the San Andreas Fault. This is where I start to question just how the heart marketed itself as the icon of love. There are many other body parts that should at least have been at the job interview.
Surely the brain is the first organ to recognise attraction and the potential of love? And the brain drives the eyes, which make the first connection, and is responsible for moving our shell of a body towards the opportunity. It powers the mouth to say whatever stupid or random thing we think of to break the ice... The heart at this stage is just a pulsing ‘gooseberry', hanging around waiting for you to make stuff happen! On top of all that, it's the brain that has the job of driving the imagination, which, quite frankly, is the magical element that gets any relationship off the ground and moving forward.
If, unluckily, a relationship goes sour, it's the brain that goes into crazy overdrive, generating constant questions and anxieties and preventing us from sleeping or even functioning in our normal way. Alternatively, I would say that the stomach is the body part in which we most keenly feel the pain of a relationship going bad. That badness seems to sit in the pit of that area, hanging somewhere beneath the lungs, as tender and painful as a bruise on the shin. So my point is, could we ever imagine a scenario where our Valentine's Day icons were cute emoticons of the stomach and the brain? That makes you think doesn't it!