This is my first post in an ongoing category called Weird Things that Happen. These are true stories, coming from one of the world’s greatest skeptics.
I was involved in a freewheeling exchange with Greg, e-mails flying back and forth in real time. Why we hadn’t moved it to chat I’ll never know; at the speed and quantity our notes were being sent and delivered, it was almost the same thing.
He asked about the Jonathan Franzen event I’d told him I was going to. Since Jonathan Franzen is my idol—a writing god—how could I possibly describe this night that was probably the pinnacle of my intellectual life? There was no point trying encapsulate it, so I dug deep into the reservoir of my vocabulary, using all my writerly reserves, and tried to paint a picture with just one word:
Then he asked about the interviewer and I explained that it wasn’t, in fact, actor James Woods as I’d initially thought, but a snooty literary critic named James Wood. Riding the wave, Greg wrote back:
In a concurrent thread, I wanted to provide the exact quote that I especially liked from the movie Broadcast News. (Sadly, the ultra-intense Holly Hunter character had resonated with the 20-something me when the movie first came out.) Would it be on IMDB in the quotes section? Sure it would. Marveling at the Internet’s ability to give me what I want when I want it, I wrote the following message:
Subject: I found the quote!
Paul Moore: It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you’re the smartest person in the room.
Jane Craig: No. It’s awful.
Found it on IMDB. (Unbefuckinlievable.)
Then we changed subjects, moving on to “fanfuckingtastic” and other quotes from Terms of Endearment.
After the exchange, I went to bed kind of late for me—11:30—and was feeling unusually hyper so I turned on the TV. A Fish Called Wanda was on, about a half hour to the end. Who can resist A Fish Called Wanda, especially when the french fries and painful stuttering scenes are yet to come? I know I can’t. When I selected the channel, the movie was at the point when the piano’s dropping on the last Yorkie (do see this movie if you don’t know what I’m talking about), and the old woman, the only witness to the crime that’s put George in jail, has her heart attack.
Cut to the next scene—two minutes after I’ve turned on the TV that I don’t usually even watch at that hour—and Ken is at the prison, giving George the good news. Stunned and delighted at their dumb luck, George reacts with one word:
He composes himself, thinks about it again, and utters the magic word one more time:
I know what you’re thinking: clearly I know the movie well. But honestly, I had no recollection of that particular line, and even if I had, I couldn’t have predicted that the movie would be on TV just after that e-mail exchange, nor that the relevant scene would come along right after I turned on the movie.
Freaky. Maybe freaky doesn’t really describe it. It was…well, you know.
Oh, please do send me your weird, cosmic stories. I have quite a few of these myself that I will share. I would love to hear yours. Please send me something true that will send chills down my spine using this link. If you don’t think you can write, don’t worry, I will clean it up for you and make it shine.