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Monday, February 28, 2005

Is the world shrinking?

Anyone who has spent any time in this tiny country called Israel is familiar with the 'small world' syndrome'.  By this I mean you can't go anywhere without running into someone you know.

I'm a relative newcomer here, but this last week has been freakishly full of such 'small world' encounters.

Last Thursday I did something I haven't done since moving to Israel; I played a wedding (for you newcomers: I'm a recovering professional trombonist).  The wedding was in one of the fancy hotels in Jerusalem, and aside from the guys in the band I really didn't think I would know anyone.

During the Chupah (the actual wedding ceremony) I looked around the room and a math professor who had suffered me gladly in my college days caught my eye and gave me a friendly nod.  Clearly his smiling acknowledgment indicated that he had forgotten about my inability to make any sense of his patient lessons about the laws of odds and averages.

After the chupah, some of the musicians and I played while the crowd escorted the newly married couple out of the room.  It was then that a parade of friendly faces began passing by and waving.

One after another a succession of women that I had dated in my college days passed by and gave me that smiling gesture that indicated they were not unhappy to see me.  A total of 5 such women passed the spot where I was playing... what are the odds?

Then another smiling face came into view... this time a fellow traveler in the online world; Chayei Sarah!  The world was shrinking faster and faster.

Later, as I sat on the bandstand listening to someone making a speech about the bride and groom, a mention of the bride's last name triggered a memory of another girl I had gone out with in my single days.  Sure enough, as I looked across at the bride's family, there sat her sister... with whom I had shared many a pleasant date.  This brought the total of former um, interests to an even half dozen!

I ended up having very pleasant conversations with all of my fellow travelers from the dating scene, and I went home feeling quite satisfied that, unlike some of my friends, I didn't have to duck and run for cover when I spotted women that I had dated.

Then, a few days later I found myself on the 12:30AM fight to New York (I almost missed the flight, but that's a story for another entry).  I figured, what could be more anonymous than an overnight flight halfway around the world?  Even if by some miracle of coincidence I happened to know someone on the flight, the lights would be out and I would probably miss them.

As I boarded the spanking new 747-400 I wandered to my seat and was immediately hailed by the guy sitting in the seat behind me.  He was a caterer whom I had known from my 17 years of playing in hotels around the Metropolitan New York area.  We had always had a good relationship, and he beamed as we caught up and he introduced me to his wife and kids.

While I stood there talking over the back of my seat, I noticed a series of waves and smiles from a few rows back.  It turns out a group of people from my old community in Connecticut had traveled together as part of a UJA Federation trip to Israel.  This was their return flight to the states... and I knew (or at least recognized) almost all of them.

A short way into the flight the dinner service was being rolled out and a few of teenagers were stuck next to me waiting for the service cart to move up the aisle.   One of the teenage boys turned to face me and his face split into a happy grin of recognition.  It was the son of one of our closest friends in Connecticut!  He was returning from being an adviser on a youth trip to Israel.

I'm only a day into a week-long trip to New York and I feel like the world could not possibly get any smaller. 

While I'm here I will be speaking to groups all over the tri-sate area.  What are the odds of running into more people from my past?

I think my old math professor would probably agree that the answer is approximately 100%.
220_1_3_1

Posted by David Bogner on February 28, 2005 | Permalink

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Finally someone whose words go "I met XYZ whom I knew from..." and not "You live in Tel Aviv? So do you know Shoshi Ochana, my brother's aunt third degree? No???" ;)

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Feb 28, 2005 3:25:30 PM

It sounds like you're making this up! I just don't know all that many people. You don't really get to know people from sitting home reading. And it sounds like you were a big hit with the ladies in college!
You should consider becoming a writer for one of those television comedy shows, you're hilarious.

Posted by: Maria | Feb 28, 2005 3:54:08 PM

Wow. Freaky man.

Posted by: Alice | Feb 28, 2005 4:02:13 PM

mademoiselle a. ... Those are the kind of conversations I usually get when I travel on business (not to mention the people who see my beanie and feel the need to confess that they once know someone who had a cousing who kept kosher!), which is why this week has been so surreal.

Maria...I promise I'm not making this up. In fact, in my jet-lagged state I may have left out a few of the encounters. I wouldn't go so far as to say I was a hit with the ladies... but I did manage to make a lot of friends who were women. it just so happens that many of those friendships began while dating. In fact, as I've written here on treppenwitz... the woman who introduced me to my wife was an old girlfriend!

Alice... Well said... my thoughts exactly.

Posted by: David | Feb 28, 2005 4:07:48 PM

You think the world's not gonna feel small in NYC? Boy, you've been gone too long. I can't walk down the block without seeing someone I know. Which happens in J'lem too, btw....

Enjoy your trip to our snowy city!

Posted by: Esther | Feb 28, 2005 6:13:59 PM

It was fabulous running into you, too, David. You are a fine trombonist.

Posted by: Sarah | Feb 28, 2005 7:51:23 PM

recovering professional trombonist

I am probably not the first person to say that it is clear now where you learned how to blow all that hot air. ;)

I have yet to take a flight coming or going from Israel where I don't know at least two other people on the plane, it is just one of those things.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 28, 2005 7:59:02 PM

Hey David, I'd love to get your schedule so Daniel and I can "accidentally" bump into you...

Posted by: Chavi | Feb 28, 2005 8:21:45 PM

are you going to be in the yu area by thursday? or in fairfield for shabbos maybe....?

Tonny

Posted by: Tonny | Feb 28, 2005 10:14:48 PM

If you could find a way to make it to L.A., who knows who you might run into...

*innocent whistling*

Posted by: Carol | Feb 28, 2005 11:28:06 PM

If you could find a way to make it to L.A., who knows who you might run into...

*innocent whistling*

But yeah, Alice said it best. Freaky, man, freaky.

Posted by: Carol | Feb 28, 2005 11:28:38 PM

Oops, sorry about the double post! Silly computer!

Posted by: Carol | Feb 28, 2005 11:29:04 PM

Esther... Well, I was in Manhattan for almost three hours today and didn't see one person I knew! Go figure!!!

Sarah... You're a pretty good dancer too (not that I was looking or anything!). ;-)

Jack... Thanks (I think).

Chavi... I will be speaking At Agudath Shalom in Stamford CT Thursday night, Two different shuls in Riverdale over Shabbat, and at Lincoln Square in Manhattan on Sunday morning. If you want to try to catch up with me... send me an e-mail (it's listed on the 'about me' page) and we can set something up.

Tonny... No to YU, and no about Shabbat in Fairfield. Sorry, it looks like if you want to say hello you'll have to either cut class or come on Sunday morning to Lincoln Square. :-)

Carol... I wish. Half of 'the round table' lives out there! We would have a blast if I could arrang e a trip out to LA. Maybe next time.

Posted by: David | Feb 28, 2005 11:48:41 PM

David,
When you see Mr. & Mrs. Efrex send them my love. have a great trip in the states! Say hi to any of the old Seaboard gang if you see them!
-Faye

Posted by: Faye | Feb 28, 2005 11:55:47 PM

I, of course, second the wishes of having you on the Left coast. Indeed, fun would be had by all. You would tell us stories; I would pick some ridiculous topic to debate with Carol, like missile defense. Jack would record us all for an audio post on his blog. Then after my second beer, I would stand on the table and pledge allegiance to Ronald Reagan. My wife would at that point stuff me in the trunk of the car and take me home.

So, when can you come?

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Feb 28, 2005 11:58:53 PM

Faye... I will indeed.

Doctor Bean... I can picture the scene as if it had already taken place, but with one variation: It's Carol stuffing you into the trunk of a car... and you seem to be rolled up in a carpet. :-)

Posted by: David | Mar 1, 2005 12:13:31 AM

I, of course, second the wishes of having you on the Left coast. Indeed, fun would be had by all. You would tell us stories; I would pick some ridiculous topic to debate with Carol, like missile defense. Jack would record us all for an audio post on his blog. Then after my second beer, I would stand on the table and pledge allegiance to Ronald Reagan. My wife would at that point stuff me in the trunk of the car and take me home.

It could be wild, I might have to reveal my true identity as Barry Bogner the long lost brother who wandered off on a trip to Martha's Vineyard never to be seen again. ;)

If nothing else you could be enjoying the lovely LA weather where it is a chilly 62 degrees out, but certainly far warmer than the Winter climate you are currently ensconced in.

Posted by: Jack | Mar 1, 2005 12:55:59 AM

How can one notice dancers while playing.....It might cause one to play a dotted eighth and sixteenth rhythm....

Posted by: shmiel | Mar 1, 2005 1:11:53 AM

Why, David, lil' ol' me? *bats eyelashes prettily* I'm just a sweet innocent flower.

What? Why does no one ever believe me when I say that?

So, David, you'll be here the end of April, just in time for my birthday, right? :-D

Posted by: Carol | Mar 1, 2005 3:18:25 AM

ahyeah, the confessionists. don't remind me of my flight last summer. it's so tiring having to sit next to jerusalem syndromers of the seventh and eighth kind. two of them felt extremely blessed sitting next to a rabbi, the third constantly sought to engage us in discussions on judaism and jesus. that's when i usually get sarcastic down to the blood.
so how do you treat confessionists, in general? do you grant them an audience and free counseling? ;)

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Mar 1, 2005 4:08:51 PM

Jack... I like winter. I brought my X-country skis to Israel with me. Obviously I'm also an optimist.

Shmiel... I noticed that nobody picked up on this musical hint when I played it! I miss the band.

Carol... Just because a kitten is cute and has soft paws doesn't mean there aren't razor-sharp claws kept carefully out of sight. :-) I'll send your birthday wishes long distance thank-you-very-much. ;-)

Posted by: David | Mar 1, 2005 4:14:47 PM

mademoiselle a. ...A lot depends on how tired I am. If I'm wide awake and feeling patient, I usually try ot turn the tables on them in such a way that they can't help but taste the sarcasm. But if I'm tired and don't want to be bothered, I usually say something like "How nice for you! You've spent your entire life avoiding any serious introspection about who and what you want to be... and now you think by confessing to me you will miraculously be absolved from any personaly responsibility? Let me know if I've missed anything." ... at which point I would put on my eye-shades and go to sleep.

Posted by: David | Mar 1, 2005 5:25:41 PM

David,

I've been working a bit too much lately, and I'm afraid I'm late in offering you a hearty congratulations for your well-deserved awards!! Three of them, no less!

...:bows deeply:...

Posted by: Jim | Mar 1, 2005 6:00:58 PM

All this proves is that musicians get to date a lot of women.

Shmiel: Bass players can read music?

Posted by: psychotoddler | Mar 2, 2005 11:04:18 PM

Ummm.... You're in the States now. Uhhh... Does this mean... I'm afraid to ask... Does this mean, Heavens forefend, no Photo Friday?

Say it isn't so!

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Mar 4, 2005 7:22:00 AM

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