Love is a Fallacy
by Max Shulman
Cool was I and logical. Keen, calculating, perspicacious, acute and astute—I was all of these. My brain was as powerful
as a dynamo, precise as a chemist’s scales, as penetrating as a scalpel. And—think of it!—I only eighteen.
It is not often that one so young has such a giant intellect. Take, for example, Petey Bellows, my roommate at the
university. Same age, same background, but dumb as an ox. A nice enough fellow, you understand, but nothing upstairs.
Emotional type. Unstable. Impressionable. Worst of all, a faddist. Fads, I submit, are the very negation of reason. To be
swept up in every new craze that comes along, to surrender oneself to idiocy just because everybody else is doing it—this,
to me, is the acme of mindlessness. Not, however, to Petey.
One afternoon I found Petey lying on his bed with an expression of such distress on his face that I immediately
diagnosed appendicitis. “Don’t move,” I said, “Don’t take a laxative. I’ll get a doctor.”
“Raccoon,” he mumbled thickly.
“Raccoon?” I said, pausing in my flight.
“I want a raccoon coat,” he wailed.
I perceived that his trouble was not physical, but mental. “Why do you want a raccoon coat?”
“I should have known it,” he cried, pounding his temples. “I should have known they’d come back when the
Charleston came back. Like a fool I spent all my money for textbooks, and now I can’t get a raccoon coat.”
“Can you mean,” I said incredulously, “that people are actually wearing raccoon coats again?”
“All the Big Men on Campus are wearing them. Where’ve you been?”
“In the library,” I said, naming a place not frequented by Big Men on Campus.
He leaped from the bed and paced the room. “I’ve got to have a raccoon coat,” he said passionately. “I’ve got to!”
“Petey, why? Look at it rationally. Raccoon coats are unsanitary. They shed. They smell bad. They weigh too
much. They’re unsightly. They—”
“You don’t understand,” he interrupted impatiently. “It’s the thing to do. Don’t you want to be in the swim?”
“No,” I said truthfully.
“Well, I do,” he declared. “I’d give anything for a raccoon coat. Anything!”
My brain, that precision instrument, slipped into high gear. “Anything?” I asked, looking at him narrowly.
“Anything,” he affirmed in ringing tones.
I stroked my chin thoughtfully. It so happened that I knew where to get my hands on a raccoon coat. My father
had had one in his undergraduate days; it lay now in a trunk in the attic back home. It also happened that Petey had
something I wanted. He didn’t
it exactly, but at least he had first rights on it. I refer to his girl, Polly Espy.
I had long coveted Polly Espy. Let me emphasize that my desire for this young woman was not emotional in