“Coincidence? I Think Not!”


“Coincidence? I think not!” is a cliché used to tease people deemed naïve, those who think every slight similarity is fraught with cosmic meaning.

And yet there are those times when something is so coincidental, we sense it really must mean something. Sometimes we figure out what that might be, other times we remain cluelessly curious.

Two cases in point:

I was directing my first one-act play “The Bespoke Overcoat” (based on a famous Nikolai Gogol story) about a tailor in the Jewish textile district of 1950s London; it was remarkably detailed, including the street address of the tailor’s shop. In the story, a ghost visits the tailor and demands the overcoat he ordered before he died; the afterlife is cold! It was a sweet little dramedy. Just one problem: the four characters spoke with distinctive Jewish Cockney accents. What the heck should that sound like?

I asked my teacher, Larry Moss, a renowned dialectician. Larry knew dozens of British accents, but not this one. Then he remembered an old English couple who’d retired to the Fairfax District, L.A.’s venerable Jewish community. He gave me their phone number.

“Of course, it would be luvly to meet yer,” said Alf and Ginny Singer. So we grabbed our tape recorder and piled into my car. Over tea, the adorable old Cockney couple asked, “So, ‘ow can we ‘elp yer?” After I told them about the play, the section of London, even the street address, they laughed: “Oy, yer ‘avin us on, roit?”

When I assured them we weren’t, Alf explained that he was, in fact, a retired tailor who’d owned a London tailor shop…the same year as the play…on the same street…at the address next door to our story’s tailor! The story was fictional. Alf had never met the playwright. And yet Alf basically was the main character of the story. “Coincidence? I think not!”

But what did it mean?

I have no idea.

Eight years later, I made a pilgrimage to L’Abri, a spiritual retreat center in a tiny village of 300 in the Swiss Alps. Running on financial fumes, I rented the cheapest accommodation available, one of half-a-dozen mattresses in the co-ed hayloft of a hillside pig farm. There was breathtaking scenery and, when the pigpen doors were opened, breathtaking scentery.

The first night I was there, I had a long talk with the girl on the mattress next to mine. She was the only other American there. Cool. Where from? California. Really? Me too! What town? Newport Beach. Me too!! Where in Newport? Her apartment was on the street next to mine. I could have thrown a rock at it from my bedroom window.

We talked nonstop for three days. No romance, just profoundly parallel spiritual journeys, doubts, longings, and discoveries. We laughed, prayed, and never saw one another again. “Coincidence? I think not!” Only in this case, I have a definite sense of what it meant…

And Who made it happen.


About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir, Quips and Quotes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to “Coincidence? I Think Not!”

  1. ejstoo says:

    Why is it necessary to call people with different understanding of life to yours simpletons? I sometimes see things that I think have to be made up because they are so out there (when compared to medical science). I’m often surprised when I find they actually exist. Science often does not bear out things some give meaning to. For example, USA has more people in some locations with more disposable income than most other areas. SO, is it a cosmic thing that we meet them when traveling as travel is often something that people with disposable income do. Is it our choices or something cosmic. That is for each to decide for themselves 😉 Yeah, I know, I likely drive you crazy, but I like to show there are two sides and often more to every idea. Some aren’t necessarily good sides either.

    Liked by 3 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      Just to be clear, Jean, I DO believe (as indicated above) that some coincidences have real meaning, but not that ALL coincidences do, especially those that aren’t particularly coincidental. Nevertheless, the phrase in quotes is often used to tease people who are deemed gullible.

      Liked by 5 people

      • ejstoo says:

        It seems that is up for discussion as well. You see, if you look at the anti-vaxx side, they figure that the vaxed are gullible and if you look from the other side, same can be said. So, this seems to be a dicey way to decide who is right and who isn’t and who is gullible and who isn’t 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • mitchteemley says:

        Jean, I’m not sure, but it seems you think I use the title phrase (“Coincidence? I think not!”) to mock people. Just to be clear, I don’t. Have a great weekend!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Kathleen Ellerman says:

    Such a beautiful, spiritual experience.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. jboelhower says:

    Coincidences are a unique aspect of our lives. No matter what a person believes, they happen to all of us. As ejstoo stated, yes, science can explain them. Some of them. I tend to believe in the more spiritual aspect of coincidences, in fact many of my blog post are generated by a series of “dots” that happen in my life. The dots connect to share a lesson, to add depth to my life, or to inspire me. Thank you for the post… it is an interesting dot in my day… 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Everyone knows our local long-time adult education director, but when she landed atop a Swiss mountain for a beer, even she was shocked when someone from our dinky little Northeastern U.S. town shouted her name! God worked that timely coincidence to show us all just how small the world really is, I think!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Fascinating! Our lives are filled with all kinds of mysteries. Coincidence is just one of them.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. capost2k says:

    Won’t it be fascinating in Heaven to someday learn of what Father saw as he knitted our lives together; what effect we had on others, both positive and negative.
    See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rXLmIx0SsI
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: ReBlogging ‘“Coincidence? I Think Not!”’ – Link Below | Relationship Insights by Yernasia Quorelios

  8. usfman says:

    I believe I coincidence as a form of energy resonating around me in certain situations in my life.
    Meeting of strangers who I am intuitively drawn and vice versa to in travel would form one kind of coincidence for what I mean. I believe your two examples fall under that category as well,

    Liked by 2 people

  9. ScottF says:

    I once asked God whether anything happens “just because.” Ten minutes later, my roof started leaking. God knew I had a hole in my roof. I did not. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mitch, thank you for stopping by my blog, Reflections of a Lay Catholic.com (https://reflectionsofalaycatholic.com). Like you, I’ve always been intrigued with what many call coincidences. To me they are opportunities to encounter the goodness of God. I have a friend who has commented that they are simply “God’s way of remaining anonymous!” Now I know from whom that quote originated. You have some good stuff here, keep thinking about the good stuff! Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I often say, when relaying a story to someone, ”and it was such a God-incidence”! 😉
    Some are a bit confused, others smile knowingly.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A lovely account. Providence and wonder can wake us up to the reality of God. Great post, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Matilda Novak says:

    i LOVE when God does these things!!!
    Thank you Mitch….
    Everything you write points to God…. which makes my heart happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I so love it when the Lord puts circumstances in order and they fall into place like those two did. He has to be involved, doesn’t He?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. These are tremendously intriguing!! I agree with you on the second. What a poignant gift from above!

    I feel like the first MUST have accomplished something, maybe we can’t see on this side of Heaven! But, I bet one day! It shall be clear! 🤨🤔

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Those encounters would have definitely made me stop and wonder as well. And when I think back, I can recall a few instances that made me wonder if they were coincidences or not.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s