Canberrans often joke it's six degrees of separation everywhere else; it's one degree of separation here. Everyone knows everyone, it seems. And there is always some connection somewhere along the line.
Six degrees of separation is the idea that all people are six, or fewer, social connections away from each other. Six degrees of Kevin Bacon is a well-known game most of us would have had a crack at, too.
In Canberra, it's like we're one connection away from each other.
I've had a couple of spooky incidents. When we got a new landline phone number, it turned out to be the former number of a close friend and work colleague. I only realised when I picked up some dry-cleaning, gave the guy our number and my friend's name came up. (That was obviously pre-children, too. I haven't dry cleaned anything since 2010. But I digress.)
Then there was the time my daughter's AFL coach and a fellow mum at the school showed me that our children's birth notices had been next to each other in the paper, some eight or so years before we met. That was just a lovely, well-I-never moment.
I'm sure lots of other people have much better examples of the Canberra one-degree-of-separation phenomenon.
Because this is all just a big lead-in so I can say I am now one-degree separated from The Real Housewives of New York City. I know. It's big.
And I'm not tawkin' about those wine-soaked broads in the current series. I'm talking at the start of the series, 2008, 2009, when we were dazzled by the sheer ballsy brilliance of Bethenny Frankel and the glorious Jewish mothering of Jill Zarin. I even got to understand Ramona Singer a bit more and realise she wasn't always completely batty.
The reason more people are talking about Bethenny, Jill et al is that streaming behemoth Netflix mid-this year added the first two series of The Real Housewives of New York City and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills to its menu. The two retro seasons landed in Australia when the COVID-19 lockdowns were still biting and binge-watching reality television at home seemed the antidote.
And even though some of the stars of the early seasons had long left the series, there was renewed interest in them from a whole new audience.
Like Jill Zarin. She hasn't been on the show since 2011. But back in the first two series, we see her living the fabulous life as the materials maven of Manhattan. (Her late husband Bobby owned the three-generation store Zarin Fabrics, a business which obviously afforded them a lavish lifestyle).
So, to be specific, I'm watching episode 10 of series two of RHONY, and it's late at night, my kids are in bed and whaddya know?
Into Jill's New York apartment walks the guy I sit next to at work in Fyshwick.
My "What? What WHATs???" must have been bouncing off the deserted streets of Wanniassa.
It was surreal.
Erudite Englishman Steve Evans, now a journalist with The Canberra Times, was working for the BBC back in 2009 when series two of the Real Housewives was filmed.
It was right after the global financial crisis and Steve was interviewing Americans about how they were coping with it. He snagged an interview with Jill and he and his team went to her apartment. He was also filmed by Bravo, the producers of Real Housewives, as he interviewed Jill.
"I think I went there thinking this would show how some people were partying on while ordinary people burned, but I quite liked her," Steve said, this week.
And his interview was quite a feature of the show.
"I suspect [the RHONY producers] used me to ask her the tough questions," he said.
Steve, who worked in New York for five years and had his fair share of celebrity run-ins, took it all his stride.
Eleven years later, he still hasn't watched the Housewives episode.
"I don't have a television," he said, cheerfully.
But I'll take that one degree.