It’s hard to imagine a person going through life without at one time or another getting a sense of déjá vu. I’ve had it several times. More compelling curiosities in my life stem not from experiences of déjá vu, but from circumstances that range from unusual-but-explainable to the downright spooky in its seeming prescience.
First, the spooky tale. It’s a true story. These are all true stories.
November 9, 1965 had been a day of ordinary events. I was the only son left still living with my parents. My brothers, having graduated from highschool, were leading independent lives. But life at home went on as usual. We all arose early for work or school, so we tended to do everything else early too. It was not at all unusual for us to be getting ready to eat dinner shortly after 5:00 pm. Ordinarily, we would eat dinner, wash dishes, then sit and watch the TV network news together before going about our separate agendas.
But I looked at the situation. I knew that my parents had enjoyed some good times together before being burdened by their three boys. I wondered if I could do anything to relieve the hum-drum, predictable tedium of their lives and spice things up, even just a little. Quite unexpectedly to my parents, I made the bizarre (in our family) suggestion that we eat by candlelight! Much to my delight, my parents went for it in a heartbeat.
Dinner was put on plates, candles were brought out, my dad even brought forth a bottle of white wine that must have been sitting open in the fridge for longer than I care to imagine. Oh good! It seemed perfect.
One candle was lit. The other candle was lit. Then the electric lights went out, all by themselves! The three of us laughed and commented on the seeming coincidence of the event of a power outage hitting us just after we had lit candles. Then we looked at our long view in which we could see for close to a mile across a valley. No lights anywhere! It was the Great Northeast Blackout of 1965, affecting more than 30 million people! How about that? Pure coincidence? Or was it a case of unhindered prescience? It didn’t matter. We ate happily enough by candle light before turning on a battery-powered radio to discover the enormity of the blackout.
I’ve had two other remarkable experiences in my life that are true but hard to believe. They’re both based more on curious but explainable circumstance and in one case a darned good memory too.
One instance occurred about six months after I had begun dating the woman who was to become my wife. We were university freshmen, and in comparing social notes we acknowledged that we had both attended the freshman picnic. There were thousands of people present so it shouldn’t have been a surprise that we hadn’t noticed each other. I said to her, “You wouldn’t have recognized me anyway. I had a moustache then, and I was walking around offering pretty girls a drink from a bottle of booze I had rolled up in a towel.”
Suddenly, her eyes widened, her moth opened, and she pointed at me! She ran to her makeup case and got out an eyebrow pencil with which she drew a moustache on my upper lip. Then she exclaimed, “You! It’s you! The creepy guy who hit on me!”
By my freshman year in college, let’s just say that I was more experienced than most. At least she knew without a doubt that I had found her attractive.
The second instance was even more extreme. After my wife and I parted, I began looking around London for congenial female companionship. In 2012, a woman on-line found me and suggested we meet. We were attracted to one another and it turned out well. Much later, in comparing life notes, we realized we had both attended the same art exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City in November, 1963. Then I thought I remembered seeing her there! I said, “You attended that show alone. You didn’t go with anyone else.” She said, “Yes. How did you know that?” Because I remembered seeing her there! She was a stunning beauty, much too old for me when I was 14 years old and jostling with my pals on a high school field trip. But that didn’t deter me from studying the agreeable sight of this 20 year-old, red-haired Venus. Now, our age difference matters little. She denies that this was possible, of course, but did I just guess that she’d been there alone? Nuh-uh. I knew it. I remembered seeing her there, forty-nine years before!