Lois Lowry's Blog
Coincidences and Credibility
I am working on a book manuscript that involves a lot of coincidences. That's the point of it, of course. As a writer I wouldn't strew coincidences around at random. Editors don't like it. They write terse notes that say credibility problems. And they are right. Nobody believes that a long-lost uncle in Australia will die and leave tons of money to the protaganist at exactly the time when all seems lost for lack of cash.
And yet....! Thinking of coincidences makes me think of my friend Trina. You know that name, of course: Trina Schart Hyman, who died in 2004 and left a big gap, a pair of never-to-be-filled-shoes, in the world of children's book illustration.
Trina and I became friends long ago because we had the same sense of humor, which is to say irreverant, sometimes ribald; and the same politics, and the same passion for animals and flowers and old houses and great food. Early in our friendship we discovered that we had both grown up in Pennsylvania, at close to the same time.
In fact, it was when we were going to Pennsyvania, both of us, the spring of 2001, to speak at a conference at Penn State, that we discovered an odd bit of synchronicity. She was coming down from Lyme, New Hampshire, where she lived, and meeting me at Logan Airport so that we could fly together to Harrisburg. She called the night before, to confirm the arrangements, and she said that she had almost had to cancel because of an abcessed tooth. But she had had the tooth pulled and was feeling okay.
"Tooth fourteen?" I asked.
"How did you know?" Trina replied.
"Just been to the dentist," I told her. "Had an abcessed tooth pulled. Number fourteen."
It happened to be her birthday that weekend so I wrote this hastily and delivered it to her at the airport:
A BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE
Bang the drums and tambourina!
Blow the flutes and ocarina!
Dancers á la Balanchina!
Bring them in by limousina!
Let's feast! We need an aubergina!
Soufflé! Glacé! Trout almandina!
And fruit as well! Some tangerina!
Apples, grapes, and nectarina!
Vices: liquor! Nicotina!
Pink champagne! Amphetamina!
Chocolate bars and jellybeana!
Nougats, toffee, sweet pralina!
Dress her in mink and black sateena—
Diamonds! Emeralds! Aquamarina!
Nothing is too good for Trina!
(We won’t remember tooth fourteena!)
Given the dental coincidence, I should not have been surprised the following summer that separately, in different states, under different circumstamces, we each fell and blackened our eyes. It was ugly. That is, WE were ugly. But amused. It deserved photographs. Then, it deserved more than photos, and I made this:
So there you have the world of coincidence. (The reference to Honolulu refers to a time we spent there together at a conference)
I miss Trina.