Postcards from Uncanny Valley
I’m kind of obsessed with coincidences (or maybe it’s that coincidences are kind of obsessed with me), so this is where I’m going to keep track of them, working up to some sort of massive treatise on the nature of the world. For now I won’t try to interpret or conclude, just document.
1. Some friends teach me a parlour game where one person chooses a word and everyone else has to guess it. The word I choose is “barnyard.” A few weeks later I teach the game to a different group of people. My friend Sean also chooses the word “barnyard.”
2. In an unfamiliar neighbourhood, I walk by a florist called Pinkerton’s. I note that it’s pretty cute, and also that it has the same name as the American detective agency. I think about buying flowers for myself. A few moments later, I check my phone. There’s a voice message from Judy from Pinkerton Florists. She has a delivery for me and is wondering when I’ll be home to receive it.
3. On the metro I think about how I should wear earplugs. I wear earplugs at work sometime, and they really create a cozy barrier between myself and the world. At the next stop, a middle-aged woman gets on. I notice she’s wearing earplugs.
4. During a slow period at work I’m shuffling a deck of cards. A customer asks if I want to play High Card Low Card. How do you play? I don’t know, he says, why don’t you cut the deck. I draw a card from the top of the first stack. It’s the ace of spades. You’re in trouble, I tell him. He draws the card from the top of the second stack. It’s the ace of clubs. We’re both weirded out for a bit, and then someone orders a latte and I have to make it.
5. This tune is running through my head and I have no idea what it is, except that it gives me feelings. At night I’m listening to the radio, and there’s a show where listeners call in and name their most shameful pleasures. One woman’s is the song that I’ve been hearing in my mind’s ear all day:
6. My throat hurts after I eat a tomato from my garden. I research tomato allergies, just in case. Later that day, someone on a TV show says “You’re not in any danger, unless you’re allergic to tomatoes.” The next day, I read a news story about a man with a tomato allergy being attacked with a tomato sandwich.
7. I take several books to read at a cottage, including John Steinbeck’s memoir Travels With Charley and Sherman Alexie’s short story collection The Toughest Indian in the World. I picked up both these books second-hand, the first in Montreal and the second in Halifax. Halfway through Travels With Charley I find the receipt from the original purchase tucked between the pages. It’s so faded it’s almost illegible, but I can make out the place (Barnes & Noble in West Melbourne, Florida), part of the date (03/13/200_), and the other three books the first owner bought at the same time: I Have a Dream – 40th Anniversary Edition (the 50th anniversary of Luther King’s speech has just passed and references to it are everywhere); Pigeon Feathers and Other Stories by John Updike; and The Toughest Indian in the World, by Sherman Alexie.