Dr. Seuss? Theodor Geisel? Robert Fulghum? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: I hope you will be able to trace a quotation for Valentine’s Day. The statement is usually attributed to Theodor Geisel who is better known as Dr. Seuss, and it begins as follows:
We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird…
I have been unable to find this in any of the books written by Dr. Seuss. Did he really say it?
Quote Investigator: Probably not. There is no substantive evidence that Theodor Geisel who died in 1991 spoke or wrote this expression.
The quotation should be credited to the minister, painter, and top-selling author Robert Fulghum who is best known for the collection of essays “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”. However, this quote appeared in another 1997 book “True Love: Stories Told To and By Robert Fulghum” in a section called “Perspective”. The volume presented a variety of stories about love, and after recounting one eccentric amorous escapade Fulghum commented:
That’s weird. That’s really weird.
I would be surprised if you didn’t think that at least a couple of times while reading these stories. I did.
Yet, Fulghum adapted a stance of acceptance and asserted the universality of weirdness. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1
You want my opinion? We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
A slightly different version of the saying was used as an epigraph in 2007 by a columnist in a Freeport, Illinois newspaper. The ascription was anonymous, and the phrase “mutually satisfying weirdness” was shortened to “mutual weirdness”. Also, the final tag phrase “true love” was omitted: 2
“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”
– Author Unknown
By 2011 the altered version of the saying given above had been reassigned to the well-known children’s author Dr. Seuss. This instance appeared in the “New York Examiner”: 3
Dr. Seuss once wrote: “We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”
In conclusion, QI suggests crediting Robert Fulghum and employing the instance of the quotation given in “True Love”. The attachment of the saying to Dr. Seuss is too late chronologically and apparently spurious.
(Great thanks to Regina Cain and Nicocco whose inquires led QI to formulate this question and initiate this exploration. Cain located the quotation in “True Love”. Special thanks to the participants in a discussion about this quote at the Snopes website.)
- 1997, True Love: Stories Told To and By Robert Fulghum by Robert Fulghum, Section: Perspective, Start Page 96, Quote Page 98, HarperCollins Publishers, New York. (Verified on paper) ↩
- 2007 February 10, The Journal-Standard, Section: News, “J-S COLUMN: Love is patient, kind … and weird” by Megan Salley, Freeport, Illinois. (NewsBank Access World News) ↩
- 2011 November 16, New York Examiner, “Mutual Weirdness….”, Author: not specified, Source: Examiner.com. (NewsBank Access World News) ↩