Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Man. I used to have so much hair.

It shouldn't be too hard to pick out yours truly from this photo array scanned from my high school (Perry High, Pittsburgh, PA) yearbook. The young lady two to the left was a good friend and my prom date. She was also a blonde cheerleader. That's as you'd expect. Right?

The guy next to me was another very good friend. Often when he sat in front of me, and I had nothing better to do, I'd ball up little pieces of paper and toss them into his 'fro. He'd never feel a thing--they just stuck there looking like dandruff from hell. (He got me back big time in the Christmas party in biology II--but I'm not telling that story.) We both ended up at Carnegie Mellon, also in our hometown. He studied EE and I went into physics.

In college, we (for a while) dated gals who lived in adjacent dorm rooms. One time the four of us were sitting in the hallway when the power went out. Total darkness. I said to my friend: "Ronnie smile, I can't see you!" My girlfriend was appalled, thinking I made a racist comment. There's a lesson there, somewhere.


Ronnie spent his freshman year at another school--I think it was Temple, and then transferred to CMU. I found out he was back in Pittsburgh by a strange coincidence—one of three memorable coincidences in my lifetime.

In this case, I had just entered my dorm hallway, at the start of my sophomore year, when the hall phone rang. (It wasn't until my junior year that they put phones in all the dorm rooms. Before that--just one pay phone in the hall—bad news for the rooms close to the phone.) This time I was in the right spot, so I answered.
"Who is this?"
"David Heddle"
"Heddle? What are you doing there? Is Ronnie there?"
"Ronnie who?"
"What do you mean? Ronnie *****!" (naming my friend)
"Why would he be here?"
"Stop [screwing] around!, this is ***" (gave his name, another guy from our high school, not a CMU student, a friend of Ronnie’s from his old neighborhood, but only a vague acquaintance to me)
It turns out that Ronnie moved into an off campus apartment, and his phone number was almost identical to the hall phone’s.

Another memorable coincidence happened in high school. I was in a friend's car, cruising near the school, which was in the city. My friend was driving, and I was in the passenger seat. We were discussing the Bruce Lee movie Enter the Dragon and how "bad" (meaning good) it was. For maybe twenty minutes we were "Bruce Lee this, Bruce Lee that." Then I spotted two brothers from my high school sitting on the steps outside their house. I stuck my head out and shouted "Hey Bruce, Lee!"

Not because I had Bruce Lee on the mind, but because those are their names.

But my favorite coincidence came after I got married. My wife was evangelized in Taiwan by two missionaries who eventually married and moved back to the Toronto area. We got married in Pittsburgh, where my wife was living in a room in the apartment of a Chinese Christian couple. A few years later, after we were gone, they also moved to Toronto.

The missionary couple and the Chinese couple ended up at the same church. They became friends; kids played together, all that stuff. They didn't know they had a mutual acquaintance (that would be us, the Heddles.)

One summer the Chinese couple wanted to come to Williamsburg and Virginia Beach, both within easy driving distance from our house. We, on the other hand, wanted to go to Canada. So we traded houses for a week.

In the meantime, the missionary couple went to Virginia Beach to visit Regent University, where the husband was thinking of going to grad school. They decided to pay us a surprise visit. Imagine their surprise when they rang the doorbell and, inexplicably, their friends and neighbors from Toronto answered.

They said the kids were not surprised at all. They just started playing together as if everything made perfect sense.

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