Mickey and Sylvia (did they even have last names?) said it all in their big '50 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 around, 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. . . .

Reserachers at Johns Hopkins and the Universities of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Bridgeport have recently published scholarly disserations 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 name 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.

"Becca, Becca," he moaned, his ashen face rolling from side to side on the pale blue sheet. "Becca, Becca."

His fever was 104, his eyes glassy as his taut brown fists drummed out his supplication. "Becca, Becca . . . Becca, Becca."

It was either the man or the woman -- it doesn't matter which -- hovering over the thin form who murmured, "He wants Rebecca."

Both of them knew the black-haired beauty he was asking for. They had seen them together, running through a meadow, laughing and singing and shouting to the sky; sitting quietly on a step listening to the rain; standing back from an easel to consider his explosions of color.

They knew she liked to read to him when he was tired. And when it was time for him to go, she helped him into his coat.

But Rebecca -- the daughter of a diplomat -- had gone home to Malta. He would probably never see her again, Washington being what it is, a place where intimacy flares and is gone. Cruelly and finally.

"Becca, Becca, I want you."

"Get some water," hissed the woman. The man rose and came back with a small yellow cup. "Here," they said in one voice, as together they cradled and pulled him gently to a sitting position. "Here," they said, "take this."

Dry lips encircled the cup. A swallow. And then another. And another. A damp cloth put to his head. And then all of his clothes lovingly removed and his body lowered carefully into a tub of water.

The raised drops of perspiration on his lips began to melt. He lay back, his toes doing a small dance in the water. He looked up and smiled.

The woman sighed. "He's better. His fever is going down."

"Yes," said the man. 'But he's in love, you know, with an older woman."

"I know," said the other. "She's five. And he is only three."