Mickey and Sylvia (did they even have last names?) said it all in their big '50s chartbuster, "Love Is Strange."
That's it, right there: Love is Strange.
It's blind, but it will find a way to make the world go round, and at first sight, too. Strange.
It supports an entire industry composed of fortune-tellers, bartenders, desk clerks, Las Vegas ministers of the non-denominational faith, psychiatrists and piano players sitting behind brandy snifters stuffed with dollar bills.
Puppy love. Calf love. We love not wisely but too well and all is fair . . . and leave 'em. . . .
Researchers at Johns Hopkins and the Universities of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Bridgeport have recently published scholarly dissertations on love. Previous researchers include Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Verdi . . . why even bother to finish the list?
Except to say, as these tales prove, that it might as well end with Mickey and Sylvia, whose names will live forever -- unlike some of the following, which have been changed, along with certain identifying details. To protect whatever remnants of privacy love leaves behind. Love is strange.
He remembers the first time he noticed her -- it was a hot July night at Abe and Caroline Fortas' house in 1952. It was a dance, but he didn't get to dance with her that night.
She remembers meeting him at a dinner party at the Fortas' -- this was after the dance -- and telling him she liked to go to the movies because you got to hold hands. A few weeks later he called and asked her to see "Cry the Beloved Country."
Two years later they got married. It was a second marriage for both of them. "I didn't have any doubts about Clayton," said Ralph Seward. "But I have doubts about myself. I was scared of commitment and all those silly things men go through. I had a lot of growing up to do."
In December, they celebrated their 25th anniversary, and decided to get married again, in the Georgetown Presbyterian Church which they attend and which is next door to their house. They had to get special permission to serve champagne at the reception afterward in the church hall.
She wore an "off-white dress, sort of Grecian," with camellias that her son sent from Greenwich, Conn.; one in her hair, and one at her waist. He wore -- "He's a very handsome man," she said -- dark trousers and an Indian silk jacket. They invited 160 friends for 4 p.m. on New Year's Day, and Abe Fortas, who plays the violin, and some others played music. Ralph, who is in his 70s, and Clayton, who is "you figure it out," walked down the aisle to "Sunrise, Sunset."
The minister, an old family friend from Baltimore, noted that it was an unusual ceremony, and asked them to say why they were doing it.
"I said, 'I love Clayton with all my heart and soul,'" Ralph remembered. "And that being married to her and living with her has been the most wonderful experience that any man could hope to have.
"I said I wanted this occasion to be more than just a party with good friends, although we wanted that too. I wanted to tell Clayton again what she means to me . . . and promise once again to love and cherish her and take care of her as long as I live."
Clayton said, "I thought it was a wonderful way to start a new decade. I said that most of the years had been happy, but in times of trouble he'd been a constant help. And that I'd love him forever and a day."
The minister read beautiful words from the Psalms and Corinthians :13, and renewed their vows.They walked back down the aisle to music by Scott Joplin.
"You know usually when I have to speak in public my knees shake, and my voice shakes," said Clayton. "But this time I was perfectly composed."
"We were scared to death then, and I guess we're still scared," said Ralph, a labor arbitrator and lawyer. I'm scared just talking about it. But she's wonderful and getting married to her was the best decision I ever made."