Love Is a Fallacy - Written by Max Shulman
Cool was I and logical...My brain was as powerful as a
dynamo, as precise as a chemist's scales, as penetrating as
a scalpel. And-think of it!-I was only eighteen.
It is not often that one young has such a giant intellect.
Take, for example, Petey Burch, my roommate at the
University of Minnesota. Same age, same background, but
dump as an ox. A nice enough fellow, you understand, but
One afternoon I found Peter lying on his bed with an
expression of such distress on his face that I immediately
"Don't move," I said.
"Don't take a laxative. I'll get a doctor."
"Raccoon," he mumbled thickly.
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I was a freshman in law school. In a few years I would be
out in practice. I was well aware of the importance of the
right kind of wife in furthering a lawyer's career. The
successful lawyers I had observed were, almost without
exception, married to beautiful, gracious, intelligent
women. With one omission, Polly fitted these specifications
perfectly. Beautiful she was...Gracious she was Intelligent
she was not. In fact, she veered in the opposite direction.
But I believed that under my guidance she would smarten up.
At any rate, it was worth a try. It is, after all, easier
to make a beautiful dumb girl smart than to make an ugly
"Petey," I said, "are you in love with Polly Espy?"
"I think she's a keen kid," he replied, "but I don't know
if you'd call it love. Why?"
"Do you," I asked, "have any kind of formal arrangement
with her? I mean are you going steady or anything like
"No. We see each other quite a bit, but we both have other
"Is there," I asked, "any other man for whom she has a
"Not that I know of. Why?"
I nodded with satisfaction. "In other words, if you were
out of the picture, the field would be open. Is that
"I guess so. What are you getting at?"
"Nothing, nothing," I said innocently, and took my suitcase
out of the closet.
"Where are you going?" asked Petey.
"Home for the weekend." I threw a few things into the bag.
"Look," I said to Petey when I got back Monday morning. I
threw open the suitcase and revealed the huge, hairy, gamy
object that my father had worn in his Stutz Bearcat in
"Holy Toledo!" said Petey reverently. He plunged his hands
into the raccoon coat and then his face.
"Holy Toledo!" he repeated fifteen or twenty times.
"Would you like it?" I asked.
"Oh, yes!" he cried, clutching the greasy pelt to him. Then
a canny look came into his eyes. "What so you want for it?"
"Your girl," I said, mincing no words...
He flung the coat from him. "Never," he said stoutly...
I sat down in a chair and pretended to read a book, but out
of the corner of my eye I kept watching Petey. He was a
torn man. First he looked at the coat with the expression
of a waif at a bakery window. Then he turned away and set
his jaw resolutely. Then he looked back at the coat, with
even more longing in his face. Then he turned away, but
with so much resolution this time. Back and forth his head
swiveled, desire waxing, resolution waning. Finally he
didn't turn away at all; he just stood and stared with mad
lust at the coat.
"It isn't as though I was in love with Polly," he said
thickly, "Or going steady or anything like that."...
"Try on the coat," said I.
He complied. The coat bunched high over his ears and
dropped all the way down to his shoe tops. He looked like a
mound of dead raccoons.
"Fits fine," he said happily. I rose from my chair.
"It is a deal?" I asked, extending my hand.
"It's a deal," he...