In novels, authors are criticized if they use coincidence too often. Some believe it should be avoided altogether. In fiction, coincidence seems unrealistic and contrived. Yet in real life they do happen. Often in unbelievable ways.
My favorite kind of coincidence centers around a single topic. It's been years since you've even thought about the subject, or maybe you've just learned about it for the first time, and coincidentally that topic comes up two or three times in the same day, for unrelated reasons.
Last Tuesday I took dad to the hospital for a test. As I was getting ready to go out, I grabbed my comb and fixed my hair. When I was done, I noticed the comb was full of hair. I was alarmed. But the hair wasn't mine. Apparently my mother had borrowed my comb to brush away her loose hairs. Her hair is the same colour so it took me a second to figure it out. I asked her, "Did you use my comb again?" She said nothing. I said, "For a minute there I thought I had the radiation sickness, ha ha."
She didn't laugh.
I took dad for his test and afterward he suggested that we go for lunch. We went to the Mandarin Buffet. We were on our second plates when dad, between mouthfuls of breaded shrimp, loudly blurts out, "It's a good ting nobody in here has a Geiger counter 'cause I'd set it off for sure, ha ha!"
I was alarmed. I wondered if there had been a nuclear accident nearby that everyone knew about but me. I asked, "Why? Are you radioactive?" He replied, "Oh, sure!"
I blinked. I waited.
He explained that the test he'd had at the hospital was some kind of cardiac radio nucleotide test. They had injected him with radioactive materials and then measured how brightly his heart glowed, or something like that. My dad, the walking radiation source. Terrific.
On the way home from lunch, we stopped at the library to drop off some books. The last book in the pile on the checkout counter caught my eye. It was "Havoc" by Jack DuBrul. I looked at it and was alarmed.
It had the symbol for radiation on the cover.
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