Monday, February 14, 2011

There's an app for that

I read recently (was it here in Comments?) that there is now an iPhone app to help Catholics prepare for the sacrament of Confession (or what we used to call Confession; I think it's now called Reconciliation). A digitally assisted Examination of Conscience.

The last time I went into the dark box and confessed my sins (as a teenager), we didn't need an app. We just made it up. So many instances of disobeying our parents, so many lies, so many times being mean to our sibs, trying to decide on an appropriate number that would not make us sound like either hardened sinners or goodie-goodies. This was by way of preparing for the big ones. Impure thoughts. Touching oneself.

No one explained why private thoughts and secluded touches added to the sum total of evil in the world, but it loomed large in our imaginations. Which didn't help in sorting out the single biggest problem in a human life -- how to mesh sex and romance. Maybe we could have used an app for that.

Anyhow, it's Valentine's Day, and somehow, against all the odds, I am still happily in love with my bride of 50+ years, and still grappling with the primeval conundrum.

And speaking of grappling, here's an example of a species that has solved (in its own inarticulate way) the problem.

The male damselfly's genital opening is near the tip of his tail. His penis, however, is just behind the legs. So before he mates, he must transfer sperm from the tip of the tail to the penis up front. Now he grasps the female behind her head with the tip of his tail. She curls her abdomen around and under until she brings her genital organ -- at the tip of her tail -- to his penis. And now their bodies are engaged, with all the trappings of romance, in a heart-shaped valentine, one of nature's more engagingly semiotic acts of copulation.

(Thanks to Charmaine K. for the photo. And if you don't already own a copy of Valentine, now's the day to order.)