I love a coincidence: Mystery solved

October 18, 2010

By Pat Detmer

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When I was young enough to read until 2 a.m. and then go to work all chipper the next day, I was a Robert Ludlum fan. I would suck in his big books like beer at a boring party.

There was a single piece of music that I listened to as I read these, and this was before iPods and CDs and “repeat” buttons, so it required me to actually get up off of my butt and move the needle back to the beginning of the LP when it was over. (Students, please see Wikipedia for explanation.) It was Handel’s “Water Music,” and I listened to it so much that I’m convinced that if given a baton and a willing orchestra with a great sense of humor, I could conduct it today.

So, you can imagine the thrill that ran up my spine when I read an essay about Robert Ludlum’s writing habits and the fact that there was only one piece of music that he listened to as he wrote, one and one only, over and over:

“Elvira,” by the Oak Ridge Boys. No, seriously … it was Handel’s “Water Music.”

Another example: As a nascent manager in my late 20s, I was conscripted into attending Toastmasters in Bellevue. I struck up a friendship with the only other female member. We discussed our backgrounds at lunch one day: I was from a small farm town in northern Illinois, I told her.

She was from the Pacific Northwest, she said, but after college, she had dated a boy from a small farm town in northern Illinois. I looked at her and then spun through a carousel of high school pictures stored in the back of my brain. There weren’t many, since I came from a graduating class of 80. The carousel slowed and settled on one: “Gary Vandersnick?” I asked. I’m sure that the shriek that followed my correct and spooky guess caused our waitress to bleed from the ears for a week.

So what was it … three months ago? … when I asked in a column: “What is that smell?” Faintly organic, it comes and goes. Due to yet another amazing coincidence, I’m here to put the question to rest.

Our tired, rocky, top-of-Olympus soil needed amendment. Plants were starving, begging for more than a periodic bath of Alaska Fish Fertilizer. So, we had something trucked in — 30 yards of it over three separate weekends — and the mystery was solved. What a coincidence that I’d asked the question and unknowingly answered it as well! It is Cedar Grove compost, and it’s stinking up the whole neighborhood as we speak.

So, the next time you smell it, check to see if the prevailing winds are coming from the southeast, which is where the landfill is, some 13 miles away. If it’s not, then look up the street for some dark, steaming soil amendment. And forgive the homeowners who live there, who really, seriously had no idea…

To the Good Neighbors north and south: It will abate, I promise you. If not, you can send your complaints to patdetmer@aol.com.

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