Saturday, July 05, 2008

What are the chances?

Last night only by chance we met Jerry Lerman, who had just arrived from the West Coast with his wife. Ever heard of him? Jerry happens to be one of the top-ranked national Scrabble champions.

But the remarkable thing is the number of overlaps between his life and the lives of my family members, almost uncanny connections.

Jerry is the brother-in-law of someone with whom we were having a pre-fireworks dinner. He and his wife were driving in from Dulles as we finished dessert.

Here’s what we proceeded to learn over the course of the next hour or so:

– Jerry lived just blocks from my husband in Detroit until he was 9 years old.
– When he moved back to Detroit at age 15, one of his best friends was our friend Bernie, whose children and ours went to school together.
– He went to the U of Michigan, overlapping with my husband.
– He then moved to San Francisco, where he lived just one block from where our daughter currently lives near Alamo Square.
– His long-time best friend is Joe Edley, the guy who taught the two Scrabble courses my husband took at Chautauqua. At one point Joe was the national Scrabble champion.
– His cousin is Dr. Gary Peck, my melanoma specialist.
– Jerry and his wife will be in Chautauqua this year the same week as we are there. It is likely that he and Joe will be preparing for the 2008 Scrabble championship which takes place at the end of July.

I’m sure if we had talked to Jerry for another couple of hours we would have learned that we are distantly related.

That’s a lot of coincidence for a chance meeting! This sort of encounter makes me wonder how it happened that we chanced to make such a connection, all while we watched the fireworks through the light rain on the roof-top of Hill’s Kitchen.

6 Comments:

Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

I remember him from Word Wars. I read the book and saw the movie. I love to play Scrabble online (does your husband plan online?). I haven't had enough time to really get serious about memorizing the two and three letter words! What a fun 4th you had!

2:41 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kelly -- If Word Wars was the Scrabble movie, Joe Edley was definitely in it and Jerry Lerman was not. However, Jerry's daughter was in the movie for about 5 seconds immediately following the scene where the black guy from Baltimore draws really crappy letters and gets up and leaves.

My husband does the Scrabble challenge in the Wash Post, but does not play online. However, our son (who is now in Germany) is an avid on-line chess player.

3:05 PM  
Blogger mouse (aka kimy) said...

I saw word wars (which I loved) so I guess I heard of him....however, I'm worst with names than I am playing scrabble (I love playing scrabble none-the-less!)

that is an unbelievable list of overlaps, which makes me think that something incredibly wonderful and life-changing may be in store for you this summer in terms of your friendship with jerry.

I didn't know you were a regular at chautauqua....we know a few cleveland folks that are regulars, will have to ask and see if any will be there the same week as you will be - if so I'll have to give respective heads'up!

3:22 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Mouse -- We go to Chautauqua week #4 every year because my friend Deborah and I participate in the adult chamber music class that week. I think a very excellent pianist named Susan is from Cleveland.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Isn't it fun when coincidences pop up like that?

My daughter and I play scrabble when we get together and we often play online. She taught me speed scrabble this summer but I'm not as fast as I used to be...

8:46 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- I could so easily get hooked on something like on-line Scrabble that I dare not ever try it!

11:36 PM  

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