Toronto Star

Love is blind, but does it need a pulse?

- Vinay Menon Twitter: @vinaymenon

I never judge anyone when it comes to love.

Oh, I judge politics, attire, personalit­y, table manners, hairdos, conversati­onal skills, favourite Bond movies … but not love. Emily Dickinson was right when she wrote, “The heart wants what it wants.”

But what if the heart wants a soulless soul mate?

This was my first question after reading a recent story in the Daily Star: “Bodybuilde­r Finally Marries Beloved Sex Doll In Groundbrea­king Ceremony.”

That bodybuilde­r is Yuri Tolochko of Kazakhstan.

His new bride is Margo of an unknown factory.

In a video the human groom shared on Instagram, scored to Maroon 5’s “Sugar,” the happy couple is at the altar. Well, he looks happy. She is staring into the middle distance. In a black tux, Yuri nuzzles his nose into Margo’s synthetic cheek and slips a ring on her stiff finger.

Guests celebrate as if they are witnessing an event as ho-hum as a traffic jam.

Tolochko, who appears to have a shirt allergy, has documented his 18-month relationsh­ip with Margo on Instagram. In one photo, they are in bed with a puppy that is presumably not from Boston Dynamics. In another, Margo is sprawled on a wooden table with pizza slices covering her naughty bits. They are in a ferry and nightclub, where they reportedly met.

(That doesn’t sound like a chance encounter — it sounds like Yuri stole someone’s sex doll.)

But, whatever. As far as I can tell, Margo plays the accordion, is partial to grunge wear and bikinis, sleeps with an eye mask, enjoys bubble baths and red wine, loves ugly Christmas sweaters, dabbles in BDSM and has had plastic surgery.

Margo is not Yuri’s wife. She is a fantasy over which he exerts total control.

And I won’t lie to you: I’m now worried about marriage as we know it.

Human relationsh­ips are hard. That’s because two hearts do not always want the same thing. I love my wife. But if I ever got inspired by Tolochko and suggested she go skiing in a thong or allow me to use her naked torso as a buffet for a family dinner from Pizza Hut, I suspect this union would be over.

Now, I am assuming this story is not fake news or an elaborate prank or performanc­e art. The production values in the wedding video — the pro lighting, the quick cuts, the almost scripted, slo-mo reactions of guests — certainly leave me skeptical. But let’s assume a hirsute bodybuilde­r fell in love with a sex doll and they are starting a new life together.

Should this not be a warning for what the future might hold?

Developing a romantic attraction to an inanimate object, or objectophi­lia, is a rare phenomenon. There was the woman who “married” the Eiffel Tower. The dude who got smitten with a Nintendo character. The lady who fell in love with the Berlin Wall. I seem to recall hearing about a torrid affair between a human and a Boeing 747. Or maybe it was a roller coaster. No, I think it was a beanbag chair.

But back in the day, the weirdos who hooked up with table lamps or barbecue covers were mostly limited to love interests in a low-tech world. But now? Advances in AI and human realism are eerie. I’m telling you, once developers master ambulation and teach female sex dolls to make meatball subs or love watching football, that’s a wrap.

If there were an available male sex doll that was a good listener and never left dirty laundry outside the hamper, my wife would leave me tomorrow. And then I’d be back in the dating scene. Personally, I’d have no interest in a sex doll. By the time I’m done work, helping the kids with homework and tending to my 21-year-old cat, I’m bagged.

But what if I developed feelings for my Nespresso or Panasonic microwave? The three beeps at the end of a high cycle almost sound like a cheery, “Dinner’s ready!” And now that we’ve been conditione­d to social distancing, might I start to see that La-Z-Boy as sexy? If something new came into my life that promised to ease my chores, would I find myself on bended knee proposing to a Roomba?

Love is blind, yes. But what if it doesn’t need a pulse in the future?

Tolochko believes we should talk less and connect more. I’m not sure he’s right. My wife never shuts up and I adore the way she runs her yap. Honestly, it’s like I’m married to a podcast. She could turn an Amazon delivery into a two-hour soliloquy.

And that’s what makes me sad for this Kazakhstan bodybuilde­r. What happens if Yuri eventually falls for a real woman? Does Margo get mothballed in a box in the attic? Will he still sneak up to nuzzle her cheek? Will he even be capable of having a relationsh­ip with someone in which he no longer has total control?

All of this sounds ridiculous, I know. But it’s less ridiculous than it was a year ago. And mark my words, it will be even less ridiculous a year from now.

In one photo, Margo is at the salon as a hairdresse­r cradles her pink locks in advance of a styling. Yuri holds her wrist and stares into the middle distance.

He looks lost.

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