L'amour brings spelunker out of cave

Valentine's Day lures him from the darkness.

Published February 24, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

On Valentine's Day, a French spelunker emerged from a two-month stint in an underground cave in southern France -- and he did it for love.

Michel Siffre, 61, had intended to stay beneath the earth much longer, according to a Reuters report, but after 76 days of total darkness with no watch and no human contact, he decided to abort his subterranean experiment on Feb. 14 because he missed women.

"I am very, very happy to be back amongst you," he told the journalists and scientists who came to greet him as he emerged from the grotto. "Believe me, it was very long -- and all these smiles, how long I dreamt of them."

Siffre, who indulged in similar burials in 1962 and 1972, claims to have been researching the effects of isolation on the human aging process. According to his theory, youth lasts a little longer in the absence of company.

He commented on how good it was to feel sunlight again, and, when asked what was the most difficult aspect of his life underground, Siffre said, "What I missed most was women, and hygiene to an extent as well."

Here's hoping he had a good shower and a little lovin' to boot. In that order.

By J.A. Getzlaff

J.A. Getzlaff's Daily Planet appears every weekday. Do you have a tip or tale for J.A.? Send it to DailyPlanet@salon.com.

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