That Common Cold of the Male Psyche, Fear of Commitment

Richard Schickel? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The film historian and critic Richard Schickel asserted that men’s refusal to commit to relationships is as prevalent as the common cold. Would you please help me to find the exact phrasing and a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1983 Richard Schickel reviewed the movie “Terms of Endearment” in “Time” magazine. The matriarch Aurora Greenway played by Shirley MacLaine eventually commenced a relationship with retired astronaut Garrett Breedlove played by Jack Nicholson. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

He has been living next door to Aurora for ten years before she hints that she might entertain a luncheon invitation from him. Five years later she actually accepts it. Thereupon a woman who once told an admirer not to worship her unless she deserved it plunges giddily into a relationship with a man she knows suffers that common cold of the male psyche, fear of commitment.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

In 1988 Schickel’s remark was noticed by quotation collector James B. Simpson who placed it into “Simpson’s Contemporary Quotations” with an accurate citation: 2

RICHARD SCHICKEL
That common cold of the male psyche, fear of commitment.
Time 28 Nov 83

In 1992 Schickel’s review was reprinted in the collection “Love and Hisses: The National Society of Film Critics Sound Off on the Hottest Movie Controversies”: 3

Also in 1992 the saying appeared in “The New York Public Library Book of Twentieth-Century American Quotations”. Oddly, the citation pointed to a non-existent November 29, 1983 issue of “Time” magazine. 4

PREVIOUS SOLUTION: “That common cold of the male psyche, fear of commitment.” — Richard Schickel

In conclusion, Richard Schickel deserves credit for this saying which he included in a movie review in 1983.

Image Notes: Two rose gold rings of commitment from Gypzy at Pixabay.

(Great thanks to Mardy Grothe whose inquiry led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration. Mardy knew the correct quotation and attribution, but he wished to acquire a solid citation. Mardy operates a valuable website with an extensive collection of metaphorical quotations.)

Notes:

  1. 1983 November 28, Time, Cinema: Sisters Under the Skin by Richard Schickel, Time Inc., New York. (Time magazine archive at content.time.com; accessed March 12, 2018)
  2. 1988, Simpson’s Contemporary Quotations, Compiled by James B. Simpson, Topic: Love, Quote Page 183, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. (Verified on paper)
  3. 1992, Love and Hisses: The National Society of Film Critics Sound Off on the Hottest Movie Controversies, Edited by Peter Rainer, Review of Terms of Endearment by Richard Schickel, Start Page 187, Quote Page 188, Mercury House, San Francisco, California. (Verified with scans)
  4. 1992, The New York Public Library Book of Twentieth-Century American Quotations, Edited by Stephen Donadio, Joan Smith, Susan Mesner and Rebecca Davison, Topic: Men, Quote Page 302, Column 2, Warner Books Inc., New York. (Verified on paper) 5

    In 1999 the syndicated newspaper feature “Celebrity Cipher” used the statement as a puzzle solution: 6 1999 July 28, Iowa City Press-Citizen, Celebrity Cipher by Luis Campos, Quote Page 6B, Column 2, Iowa City, Iowa. (Newspapers_com)