Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Chemistry of Love

I am reminded that Valentine's Day is the next "holiday" coming up. The next big commercial one, anyway, and I spotted this story about love. Or lust, or chemical reactions. Whatever. Attraction to another is what we're talking about. According to a report at the BBC, a professor wrote an article for Nature in which he claims that love, or attraction to another, is simply the result of your brain's chemical stew and how it's being stirred up at any particular moment. All those dead poets were wrong, he seems to be saying. Professor Larry Young of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia contends that you really don't need tricks such as raw oysters, candy, or (one would suppose), baubles to set a romantic mood. Prof. Young may or may not like the notion or "romance," inasmuch as he's distilled the whole business down to flashing neurons and chemical reactions. Poor Prof. Young is probably very "book smart," but seems to know little about life outside the lab. I will tell you from first hand experience, shared with millions of other men over the centuries, that Prof. Young is full of crap. He has apparently never presented a bouquet of flowers to a woman, or seen a lady's eyes light up (and saliva begin to flow) when she is given an expensive jewel or a box of Godiva chocolates. Perhaps the good professor knows much about chemicals, and I don't doubt for a moment that what he claims is partially to blame for feelings of physical attraction to another. (Prof. Young, by the way, is not breaking any ground here; this theory has been put forth many times by many others previously.) While I agreed that chemicals and, yes, instinct play their parts in the whole scheme, I also know from decades of personally conducted experiments that gifts also play a role, contrary to what Prof. Young claims. Sure, those chemical reactions upstairs may help to open the door to the cellar, if you grok my meaning, but what the prof seems to not understand is that any chemical reaction needs a catalyst. A candle light dinner, a diamond ring, tickets to a play, or just a kind gesture and a smile can provide the catalyst that gets the chemicals reacting. I suggest that Professor Young get out of his laboratory and into a nightclub pronto. He might learn a few things that his test tubes and centrifuges can't teach him. Subscribe to Chicago News Bench