Saturday, January 27, 2007



What are the odds?

When I arrived at University of Florida in the fall of 1974, a guy across the hall in my dorm was from Niceville, FL, a small town in the panhandle near Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola. We gave Jim a bit of a hard time about his home town, and how he'd lived a very sheltered youth out there... but, really, he was quite proud of his school's football team, the Niceville Eagles. He was proud of Niceville in general, happy to be from there. But none of the rest of us had heard of the place, even though we all knew about places like Frostproof and Yeehaw Junction.

Years later, when I lived around Washington, DC, I was hanging out with a friend and his co-worker. The co-worker said he was from a small town in Florida. “I'm from Florida too,” I said, “What's your town?” He hesitated, reluctant to go through the set of questions that was, I guess, usual. “Nah, you've never heard of it.” After a round or two of “Try me,” he said he was from Niceville. “Ah,” I said, knowingly, “the Niceville Eagles!” You could hear his jaw hit the floor — I not only had heard of the place, but I knew the name of the school team.

Now it's years more, and the other day a co-worker of mine sent me this article, amused by the irony of a murder in a place called “Niceville”. And yes, even apart from the name, one doesn't expect such heavy news from a spot where the biggest news is more often about something like the new Home Depot.

But more interesting to me is how often I can run into connections to the same, barely-on-the-map place. It seems that it's a small town in a smaller world.

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