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If you knew Katie like we know Katie - well, you probably do

February 04, 1999|By KATE COLEMAN

It happens to me all the time, and I love it. Here in Lifestyle, we call it "Six Degrees of Kate Coleman," a phrase borrowed from a play and a movie based on the play - "Six Degrees of Separation" - by John Guare.

[cont. from lifestyle]

The idea is that everyone in the world is separated by only six other people.

I stretch the concept just a bit. For me it's come to mean that I run into people I know, or people who know people that I know, in unexpected places.

For example:

* Rosemont, Pa., 1969: As a freshman and sophomore at Rosemont College, I would get jealous when my high school to college boyfriend, Donnie, would mention a girl at his college, several hours away. I came to view this MaryAnn person as my nemesis, and I must have griped about her existence to my dorm-mates.

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My pal JoAnne came back from a weekend visit to D.C. and had found a picture of this MaryAnn person in her friend and future sister-in-law's high school yearbook. I couldn't believe it, and I felt even more threatened: She was beautiful.

* Walt Disney World, Easter, 1985: Not a great trip. We all were a little sick. My kids, then almost 6 and 3 years old, didn't like the Florida sun or amusement rides. I tried, but I didn't like Mickey Mouse. I felt like a Communist.

Why were we there? It was meant to be: In the ladies' room, I met Jane, a friend from high school I hadn't seen, or thought about, in 18 years.

There's a second level connection here, too, folks. Jane married a guy named Jackie. Many years ago, my mom baby-sat for his father.

* It's happened twice in Broadway theaters on my annual women's trip to New York.

1985: I saw Blackie Bowen of Hagerstown and his kids walking into the lobby of the theater where "Les Miz" was playing.

1997: The gang went to a matinee of "Chicago." It was a nasty rainy day, so we got to the theater early. It happened while a few of us were waiting in the ladies' room line.

Who was the next to queue up? Brenda Rosenthal of Hagerstown, of course. Brenda and I were cool. She and her husband, Joel, came over at intermission to meet my friends. They were amazed. They now are disappointed if I don't run into someone I know in the Big Apple.

* 1997: This is a good one. My friend, Jack Frost - yes, that's his name - a public television producer who worked with Kathy Mattea, got tickets to her breast cancer benefit concert at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. Afterward, we were invited to attend a reception in the downstairs museum. I was thrilled to meet Mattea, got a promise of a future interview from her manager and moseyed around, snacking and schmoozing.

On the other side of the room stood Anne Divine, a classmate who left Rosemont College to marry and have kids. Although her long, golden hair was cut short, I recognized her immediately, and she me. We caught up on 26 years without blinking. Our lives have changed. She divorced, went back to college, on to law school, a job as a congressional aide, remarriage and another child. My life changed, too. I get to write about silly stuff like this.

* I have little "close encounters of the Kate kind" all the time. I've been around for a while, and I know lots of people, so it's not always a big deal when I reconnect with someone here in Hagerstown. I'm usually pretty blase about it.

But a recent contact dazzled even me.

In doing a story in advance of Congregation B'Nai Abraham's November food festival, I contacted Debra Schepp, principal of the congregation's religious school. We chatted, mentioning that we both grew up in New Jersey.

"Where?" she asked.

I told her.

"You must know my brother," she said.

"Yeah, right," I thought. But, knowing the way things work for me, I asked who he is.

"Dave Sorkowitz," she answered. He is now principal, then social studies teacher, at Shore Regional High School in West Long Branch, N.J.

I know him, of course. He was my teacher, student government adviser and father of a little girl for whom I baby-sat.

I love it.

Kate Coleman is a Staff Writer for Lifestyle.

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