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.

In the California hills west of Palo Alto is a reservoir called Searsville Lake, beneath which lies the drowned hamlet of Searsville. Ernie and Willa, who were raised on adjacent farms close by, used to roam on the hill where the schoolhouse was, looking for initials on the trees.

The idea of those vanished schoolboy romances appealed to them because it reminded them of themselves. They had known each other as long as they could remember, and they (and everyone else) took it for granted that they would marry.

But a couple of years after they finished high school Ernie got a job with Southern Pacific and went to live with relatives in South San Francisco. And then one day, right around Pearl Harbor Day, Ernie recalls, they had a terrible fight. And Willa suddenly married another guy.

Ernie married soon after. He didn't see her for nearly a year, but after that they kept in touch more or less: Christmas cards, birthday cards, maybe an actual letter now and then.

Willa and her husband moved to Washington. He did something in the Department of Agriculture. They had four children. Ernie and his wife, still in South City, didn't have any kids, much to their regret.

Willa's husband died in 1971. Heart. Then, four years later, Ernie's wife had a gall bladder operation and something went wrong and she died on the operating table.

That fall, Ernie came to Washington, and Willa met him at Dulles. They married almost immediately. They were both 56 years old.

And you know something? It didn't work. They found they had grown into two different people, and they just didn't get along and they were so astounded that they stuck it out for three years before admitting it to themselves and deciding to get a divorce.

But wait. "Before we do anything I want to go back to Searsville Lake," Willa said. "I just want to see it."

It was their good luck charm, I guess. Anyway, they went there, and of course it was all built up. They didn't recognize anything. Couldn't even find Schoolhouse Hill. Ernie says he was depressed at first, but after awhile he got used to the idea. Actually, in some strange way, it was kind of a relief, he says.

They came back to Washington and things got better. That was a year ago, and they are still together. I think they are going to make it.