The heart icon has been with us since paleolithic days, and all this time it has been your standard, double-humped, come-to-a-point valentine heart. While its symmetry and balance do at least suggest equality between the sexes, these hearts are ultimately too ideal to be real. They're one-dimensional and shallow. They're all surface and no depth. Fortunately, sexual liberation has led to a smorgasbord of "realistic" hearts -- some of them more useful than others. The first of these I noticed was on a "Greatest Hits" valentine card. It had been pierced by a stud at its centre so it could be rotated. When you turned it upside down, its lobes suddenly became two full, pendulous breasts. Ah, Greatest Tits. Now I get it. That was my initiation into the under-side of the heart. Upending, I've since discovered, is fairly standard practice in heart porn.
For instance, there are those elongated hearts that stretch down like toffee to reach a more or less globular bottom. Right side up it looks sexless and hokey, but upend it and the lobes become big balls hung together in a sac, and that globular bottom is now a purple-headed pecker top -- the kind of penis that widens as it approaches its base. If you've ever come into a room unannounced to see someone furtively hiding his heart, its probably a 3-D version of one of these. You can buy them and lots of other strap-on hearts in sex shops.
But please do your best to avoid purchasing heart holes. They look like hearts but are actually heart shapes cut out of paper or cardboard. These are disgusting. They're absence of heart. The plague of our time. You can also get heart puzzles, but there's usually one piece missing. Door mat hearts are no good. They say welcome. But when you turn them over and step on them you fall like a ton of bricks. Hearts like this should be left in San Francisco.
Some people like top hearts. You push a little plunger in and make them spin till they shriek like missiles, at which point they begin to ooze gelatin that can be used as a lubricant. Not romantic as far as I'm concerned.
Then there's the double hook heart. It is touching -- one hook hung up on another -- but beware the heart that is just one hook hung up on itself in the mirror. It's the narcissist's valentine to self. This heart isn't even looking at you. It's only seeing itself in your reflection.
If you prefer a taste treat, check out the cookie heart. You bite it and all of its crumbs are also cookie hearts. Each of which when bitten makes even smaller tiny, perfect cookie-heart crumbs. These could be amusing for a lifetime.
Given the presence of so many hearts in the environment, its not surprising that we now have a growing problem with broken hearts. They are everywhere and can have bitter, cutting edges and poisoned bits that can severely maim anyone unlucky enough to step on one. It is advised to tread lightly around broken hearts. And don't get involved with any "pointless" hearts, as they are a waste of time.
Especially beware the ambush heart. Imagine a V shape made of wire-thin, tensile steel. You bend the two tops of the V inward, arcing them like bows until they meet upside down, where they click into one another, holding the heart shape tight and taut. Some poor fool comes along cooing romantic valentine nonsense and makes the mistake of touching the heart ever so slightly. SPROING!
The heart trap is triggered. It springs back to its V position. It's a harpoon, and you, baby, are Moby Dick.
Which brings me to my own favourite -- the infinite arrow heart. This is a heart that tracks you down, sometimes over the course of a lifetime. When it finally finds you, there's no escaping it. It zeroes in point-first and penetrates you, but it never reaches its own widest point; it just goes on widening you forever. Long past what you thought were your boundaries, your limits. There are no words where this heart takes you. It is holy. You are its ever-expanding halo. When love enters you in this way, there is no difference between you and the universe. It is simply the divine valentine. Robert Priest's latest book of love poems, Blue Pyramids (ECW), is in stores now.