by James Thurber and E.B. White


"One of the silliest books in years, and perfectly lovely.  It left this reviewer weak partially paralyzed, with a written face streaming with tears."    -- Saturday Review of Literature (1929) 

I have mentioned that the question of deciding whether a feeling be love or passion arises at inopportune moments, such as at the start of a letter.  Let us say you have sat down to write a letter to your lady. . . . Finally you get settled and you write the word: “Anne darling.”  If you like commas, you put a comma after “darling”; if you like colons, a colon; if dashes, a dash.  If you don’t care what punctuation mark you put after “darling,” the chances are you are in love—although you may just be uneducated, who knows?

    Now you have written the words ‘Anne darling’ and have put a punctuation mark there.  You pause for just a second, and in that second you are lost.  "Darling?" you say to yourself.  "Darling?  Is she my darling, or isn’t she?  And if she is my darling, as I have so brazenly set down on this sheet of paper, what caused me to take such a long, critical look at the girl in the red-and-brown scarf this morning when I was breakfasting in the Brevoort?"


 Men and women have always sought, by one means and another, to be together rather than apart.  At first they were together by the simple expedient of being unicellular, and there was no conflict.  Later the cell separated, or began living apart, for reasons which are not clear even today, although there is considerable talk.  Almost immediately the two halves of the original cell began experiencing a desire to unite again—usually with a half of some other cell.  This urge has survived down to our time.  Its commonest manifestations are marriage, divorce, neuroses, and, a little less frequently, gun-fire.


Sex is by no means everything.  It varies, as a matter of fact, from only as high as 78 percent of everything to as low as 3.10 percent.  The norm, in a sane, healthy person, should be between 18 and 24 percent.


New York became the capital of the sexual revolution.  It was conveniently located, had a magnificent harbor, a high mortality rate, and some of the queerest-shaped apartments to be found anywhere.


If young folks lack the talent or intelligence requisite to enlightening their parents, the task should be entrusted to someone else.  Yet it is hard to say whom.  A child should think twice before sending his father around to public school to secure sex information from his teacher.  Women teachers, to borrow a phrase, are apt to be “emotionally illiterate.”  Many teachers have had no sex life and are just waiting for somebody like your father to show up.