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I'm a Coin Boy, Too

The newest thing here is a flock of self-proclaimed “coin boys” who carry a quarter on hand at all times and constantly flip it. They have their entire personality revolve around coins, coin flips, and chance. When we went around doing an ice breaker, 4 or 5 of the kids said some variation of “I live by the coin and die by the coin” as their fact.

Just about an hour ago, when I assigned the first assignment of the school year, one of the coin boys was bold enough to say “heads I do it, tails I don’t.” I told him if he flipped the coin he would be getting a call home on the first week of [high school]. He flipped it anyway and it came up heads (thank god for that at least).

But then the other coin boy in that class flipped his coin and it came up tails. He said the coin has spoken and he’s not doing it. …

-- from r/Teachers

My crystal ball shattered in my twenties.

Extricating oneself from a conservative community is agony. You can never really replace your friends and family. You can seek support from strangers and eventually forge friendships, but trust takes time.

Time is not kind to the lonely and miserable and confused and guilty. As you scrounge for new social capital, peers from your past life snatch careers and romances from that crystal ball you carried since birth. Some learn to crawl after decades of walking.

Exile is slow nowadays. You're always welcome back to The Church™, but you are generally unwelcome everywhere else until then. Take a seat or take a hint. Some will tell you via email, others broadcast cryptic signals. It burns most when they don't realize they're doing it.

Your fake fortune-teller eventually dies of starvation. When you surgically remove the last shards of crystal ball from your interstitium, you are left with no future.

God does not play dice, but mortals are left with no choice. Roll the bones.

To leave an oasis is to face the desert. Without one's god, the universe becomes cold and chaotic. Probabilities are a poor substitute for a Personal Relationship™.

And so after decades in prison, a released convict returns to familiar places behind bars.

Metaphor is magic. A simple coin can transform cold probabilities into Lady Luck. A new narrative coats your universe in whimsy.

Your story needn't be true to be useful. Any alter ego can synthesize courage. Any divination system can guide exploration. Any sacred relic can provide peace.

Stories grow beyond oneself. Clans develop character too. "Yes, and…" is a ritual that summons creatures from the chaos. Domesticate those beasts.

Commit to the bit. Create a credo; adhere to an ethic. Meaning materializes with comfort and confidence.

But belief needn't be serious. Coin flips make choices but not fate. Vanishing coins are magic but not miracles.

And so the coin offers faith to the faithless.

I'm a coin boy, too.