It had been nearly three months since my last visit to The Peddler. When the weather is cool or cold, I eat there every week or so, but when the weather is hot, my foraging radius doesn’t include that side of town.
The routine I’ve established at The Peddler is carved in stone: I arrive at 5:30, which gets me a parking space at the top of the hill and my name at the top of the seating list. From the hostess station, I proceed to the bar where I order a bottle of Angry Orchard to nurse until my name is called at 6. At 6, I’m seated at my usual table where I eat the same meal I always eat. Queen cut, rare, sweet potato.
The hostess, the bartender and the waitress have “Mr. Tim’s” routine memorized. Even after long absences, I go through the motions of ordering only as a matter of form, because each of them knows what I’m going to say before I say it. Queen cut, rare, sweet potato. Preceded by a bottle of Angry Orchard.
My arrival at The Peddler last week, then, was as unplanned as it was unusual for this time of year. A sudden meat craving had coincided with significantly less heinous late afternoon weather than we’d had in quite some time and, as it happened, I was in the vicinity. So at 5:30 p.m. or very nearly thereabouts, I walked as per usual from the hostess station into the small red-carpeted bar.
That’s when things got strange.
As I entered the bar, the bartender and all his customers were staring up at the flat screen television behind him, which was unusual in itself, and there on the screen, filling it edge to edge, was a big bottle of Angry Orchard.
After an absence of almost three months and on the spur of the moment, I enter a room where I customarily order a bottle of Angry Orchard at exactly this time of day, and the television behind the bar happens to be tuned to a news broadcast that happens to be running a story about Angry Orchard.
Everyone in the room is staring at a photo of the hard cider than I’m there to buy, because for perhaps the first and last time ever, and unbeknownst to me until that instant, it’s the subject of national news (recall due to explosion hazard caused by high carbonation levels).
Seeing the image on the screen, I said almost involuntarily, “Hey! That’s my drink!” The bartender turned around, looked at me and said as he pointed back to the screen with uncharacteristic enthusiasm, “Hey, yeah! I was just thinking about you!”
The bartender is watching a television news story about a product that reminds him of a customer he hasn’t seen in almost three months and at that very moment the customer arrives. To buy the product in question.
syn.chro.ni.ci.ty \ siŋ-krə-ˈni-sə-tē, ˌsin-\ noun: the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection
Strict materialists use Occam’s razor to shave the anomalies from consensus reality. To them, the statement “there’s no such thing as coincidence” sounds uncomfortably like “I’m too uneducated or gullible or wishful or stupid to distinguish fact from fancy.” They keep their distance – and who can blame them? – from folks who seem bent on filling all gaps in the observable universe with whatever’s at hand. With angels and extraterrestrials. With faeries. With whatever.
But somewhere between “there’s nothing to see here” and “I just took a selfie with it,” between the die hard deniers and the blind believers, lies a gray area of potential discovery where it seems to me we’re ill advised to discredit all that isn’t reproducible in a laboratory.