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, psychiartrists 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 of John Hopkins and the Universities of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Bridgeport have recently published scholarly dissertations on love. Previous researchers include Shakespeare, Tolstory, 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 indentifying details. To protect whatever remnants of privacy love leaves behind. Love is strange.

She adored him because he was an authentic preppie with dark curly hair. He adored her because she had a lot of men's crew-neck sweaters and a Midwestern outdoorsy look.

At 18, the first few weeks of college, it was love. Their first date was in 1974, a bike ride along Lake Michigan. Their second date was the same bike ride, finished off with a bottle of wine on the beach. Back in Ohio, the guys just took her to movies.

Then there were dinners, parties. The second year, they went camping in Wisconsin, hiking in Colorado, skiing in Utah. He was from Iowa, and his father had farms and money.

The third year, things got lousy. She was spending long hours studying. He felt ignored by a young woman who had turned, in his estimation, from the great outdoors to great ambition. She considered him simple.

It ended messily, and they decided they hated each other. He left school for Outward Bound, then maple sugaring in Vermont. She stayed and got good grade, relenting to visit him in the spring. (He lived in a frame house with a patchwork quilt her sister had made.) She cried when she left. Two weeks later, she vowed to forget him.

She went to New York. He called her once from Kennedy Airport, on his way back from the Caribbean. He said hardly a day went by when he didn't think of her. She was touched, spend two weeks daydreaming, then decided she was a fool.

She moved to Washington. He went back to Iowa, taking agriculture courses so he could run the family business. She often thought, in fancy restaurant or at big parties, that she might be living on a farm and making quilts. Sometimes it sounded wonderful. Most times, she knew it was stupid. And finished.

Two months ago, she saw a movie about farmers. She thought of him and when she got home at midnight, she recalled. They talked for two hours.

So now she's taking in few vacation days in this little place called Ames, in Iowa.