My wife took a trip to visit her two sisters recently, and before she left town I printed out copies of an old column for her to take to them. It was about the time JoAn and I found out that my boss’s wife’s father (still with me?) had coached my wife’s brother in high school football.
Brother Jerry was a popular football star in Louisiana who went on to play college ball, and the night we met the coach here in town, he remembered having Jerry on his team. I asked him whether he remembered JoAn, a majorette and trombonist, from all those decades before.
“Oh Lord yes,” he said. “She was Jerry’s best sister.”
Later in our conversation, we found out that the coach already had left that high school when JoAn’s younger sisters attended it. Whether he knew the other girls or not, though, doesn’t really matter because I think she is the pick of the litter. (If you read this column regularly, you already know that.)
Finding out that we knew my wife’s brother’s coach’s daughter (still with me?) was one of those moments of coincidence that happen occasionally in life and give us shivers. The meeting reminded me of another that took place nearly 30 years ago in south Georgia.
I was in the barber shop near our office, waiting my turn and talking to the women who worked the chairs. A young man had come in to sell them barber and beauty supplies. A cop on foot patrol wandered in to say hello.
He became part of the various conversations, and in the course of events it was revealed that both the police officer and the salesman were originally from Pennsylvania.
From Pittsburgh, in fact.
From the same side of town.
The same working-class neighborhood.
The same street.
As the rest of us tuned in to the unfolding drama, we learned that the cop had once dated the salesman’s sister. Though they had not recognized each other, they had in fact been acquaintances at one time.
The rest of us sat entranced by their connection. The cop wanted to catch up on old times, but the hair products salesman appeared embarrassed by his upbringing.
His attire and hairstyle were from Miami Vice, not a Pittsburgh neighborhood, and he was eager to change the subject. It was easy to tell the two men would never again get together to reminisce.
By the way, when my wife showed her sisters the column about the coach, they laughed over the part that said he’d had to wrap Jerry’s ankles before each game because he was pigeon-toed.
Jerry was so pigeon-toed, JoAn’s sister Ankey told her and Mona this month, that he once had a long touchdown called back because his heels went out of bounds as he ran down the field.
Now, tell us about some of the strange coincidences that have taken place in your life.