Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Coincidence three

Those of you who follow this blog with feverish intensity (hey,  I follow this blog with feverish intensity!) will note that lately I have had a couple posts dealing with matters of coincidence. The first one was a rationalist dismissal of the "magic" of coincidence. The second was a bit of a shaggy dog story designed to pad out a tiny joke involving Jimmie JJ Walker. And I was quite ready to let it lie there and not retouch the subject for months or until I needed a blog post and coincidence was the shortest line to it. I mean, it's not that interesting a subject. Then, today, I slammed into one of the more astounding pure coincidences I have ever hit here at the library. Do I stand by my original rationalist post? I guess, mostly, and really, this is vastly more in the "parlor trick" vein, amazing but bland, but with clearly nothing of the "voices of the gods" overtones to it.

But whatever it is, entertaining or not, I find myself compelled to share. It is a coincidence too large not to, a coincidence large enough that you might not even believe it. It is the eminently rare "triple crown" coincidence with a throwback plus.

"Whoa!" You exclaim "Triple crown whatsit? What's with all the fancy terminology all of a sudden?"

I'm so glad you asked. I have decided coincidences should come with a set of names, sort of like varieties of Olympic high dives, or figure skating moves. These could nicely speak to their levels of difficulty and rarity. It would give us an opportunity to compare and organize, and it could give us some useful shortcuts and ways of discussing coincidences. What if I said:


And you said "What?"

"Coincidence." I answer "Do you want to hear?"

"Well," you might respond "What kind?"

I say "A standard double."

"All right." You say without enthusiasm, but with mild interest.

Or, alternately, "A single." I say sheepishly.

"Um, no thanks." You answer.

So, a set of terms and definitions then:

Practical nicety:

 Like when you are looking for a hold for a patron and it is on the top of a bin of 200 items sitting next to you.

A single:

A: I read something interesting Stephen King said today.
B: Really, I'm just reading The Long Walk by Stephen King! Gosh!

A standard double:

A: Oh my goodness! What he said was The Long Walk was meant to be a parable about working as clerk for many years!

A standard double with a rimshot:

B: But, but, I'm a clerk!

A let's be fake friends:

A: My name is Roy.
B: So is mine! Nice to meet you, Roy!

A Small world:

Like when you run into someone in an unusual place, as in, hey, aren't you the library guy?

A deluxe small world:

Like when you run into someone in an extremely unlikely place:

A: Excuse me, we have become lost in this French Countryside Village. Do you speak English?
B: Yes, as a matter of, what! Oh my god. Roy? What are you doing here!?
A: Oh my God! Honey, it's Roy!

I could go on for quite a while with terms. There are a lot of kinds of coincidences. But what about my Triple Crown with with a throwback plus? Do you want to hear about that?

Oh, okay then.

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