Thursday, January 25, 2001

It Happens In Threes...

Two of my favorite web-persons appear in the same webzine this month.

Just today, as I was driving home from work, thinking about the nature of coincidence and listening to randomized tracks on a custom-burned CD, “Caught By The Fuzz” came up... and as I rounded a corner, I saw a traffic stop and two cops ushering a hapless young fellow in handcuffs into the back of one of the cruisers. I don’t think I've ever actually witnessed an arrest before...

(Of course, then it switched to Jovanotti and I didn’t encounter any mad gap-tooted Italians...)

Synchronicity: acausal weirdshit coincidence. Fascinating to the genius and the pretentious twat alike.

It happens in threes...

Last October, my daughter Claire (who is four) found a woolly bear caterpillar on the playground at her school. She and her friends put it in a plastic bucket and named it “Sally.” When I arrived to pick her up, she was already making up elaborate stories about how Sally would be her pet, and Claire would teach her tricks when she turned into a butterfly, and and and and. It was only with difficulty that I persuaded her to leave Sally behind: Sally is a wild creature, I said, she needs to be with her friends.

Claire continued to talk about Sally on and off, though—and some weeks later, she and D were playing in the house when she found a sleeping creepy-crawly, fat and fuzzy, and the bottom of her toy box. “Sally—?” she gasped.

The woolly bear had a place of honor in a jar for the afternoon—but come nightfall, I gave Claire the wild-creatures-must-be-free speech again, and we took Sally out in the backyard and, with much ceremony and great reluctance, released her.

Sally had entered Claire’s private mythpool—in fact just last week she and I were talking about how we might see Sally again, come Spring. But as we played by the fireplace on Tuesday night, we were not expecting to see a fat woolly bear caterpillar crawling across our carpet.

Well, this time it can be no coincidence. Having done some research, we’ve provided Sally with a glass bowl filled with leaves, with a slab of bark for her to sleep on and the occasional misting of water. She’ll overwinter with us, sleeping most of the time, then come spring she’ll empty her gut and spin a chrysalis and emerge an Isabella Tiger Moth.

(Digression: Sad and frighteningly knowledgeable comics geek that I am, I immediately associated that name with comics writer Tony Isabella, who was saddled with the company-mandated nickname “The Tiger” during his Marvel Bullpen stint in the 1970s nickname. Go figure.)

It’s not the same caterpillar, of course. It couldn’t be. Probably. Just coincidence, or synchronicity.

Or perhaps our amazing daughter, whom I love more than life itself but about whom I write very little for fear of being another gooey, doting dad with webspace, could be something really amazing, amazing on a quantum level: a strange attractor, maybe.

Or in a mystical sense—a shaman-in-the-making, and the caterpillar which seems to seek her out is her totem animal.

Or perhaps ontologically—the Lathe of Heaven, rewriting reality without even realizing. I wouldn't put it past her.

Because this kind of thing has happened before.

One day in Summer I came home to find a red balloon by the door, its string tangled in the bushes. I mentioned it to D, who was astonished: eariler in the day, when she and Claire had gone out, she had bought Claire a red balloon—but the wind in the parking lot had taken it out of her hands, to much weeping.

So: a chance descent near our house? An anonymous Good Samaritan from the parking lot, retrievingf the balloon, following D and Claire home? Divine intervention? The same balloon, or different? Where does Occam's Razor get us on this one? What's the simplest explanation?

What will it be when it happens again?

Because, after all, it happens in threes.

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