I've often heard about "Six Degrees of Separation" -- the statistical idea that any two people in the United States are separated by at most six intermediaries. While I have enough background in discrete mathematics and combinatorics to understand how statisticians could come up with this result, it always seemed a bit like the Theory of Relativity -- something more read about than experienced. That all changed after I got know Girlfriend S. for several months.
It actually turns out that Girlfriend S. is acquainted with people who know people of my acquaintance using two wholly unrelated routes. First, let me lay out the connections:
- One of Girlfriend S.'s oldest and dearest friends is JA. JA. and S. met in Kindergarten and have been dear friends ever since (JA. is going to be the Maid of Honor at our wedding). JA. has a brother A., who is very active in the production of comic books. I also have a friend, JL., with whom I used to occasionally hang out in high school. JL. is also active in the comic book trade as an indie comic book writer. Since A. works on the comic book for a very well known superhero, I wrote JL. to see if he'd ever heard of A. or was familiar with his work. JL.'s response was more or less "I haven't read any of his work since he was doing Xerxes (indie comic name changed to protect the innocent) but I know him personally and he's a fine fellow."
One of Girlfriend S.'s closest friends from her college Sorority days is JN. JN. has her Master's in music, in vocal performance. Through the machinations of fate, JN. has ended up living in M., a small town about 100 miles from where I grew up, where her husband teaches music at the local liberal arts college. I grew up living next door to JG., a local opera singer-made-good who spent much of the 1980's working in the great opera houses of Europe. JG. has returned to the land of my birth where he now gives lessons and is starting his own repertory company (why they don't make him music director of the local Opera is nuts, but I digress). When I met JN. and we compared notes, I discovered that JN. takes lessons from JG., thus completing the second connection with Girlfriend S.
To put this into perspective, let us consider the respective locales where Girlfriend S. and I grew up. Girlfriend S. grew up in a large metropolitan area of the United States, and I grew up in a small to medium-sized city about 3000 miles away. That's all the way at the other end of a continent folks. Yet, she knows people who know people I know. I find this amazing that it occurs not once, but twice.
I guess the world really is small after all.
on 2003-06-11 at 9:05 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond