First the boring part:
1754 (but rare before 20c.), coined by Horace Walpole (1717-92) in a letter to Mann (dated Jan. 28); he said he formed it from the Persian fairy tale "The Three Princes of Serendip," whose heroes "were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of." The name is from Serendip, an old name for Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), from Arabic Sarandib, from Skt. Simhaladvipa "Dwelling-Place-of-Lions Island." Serendipitous formed c.1950.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Now an equally or perhaps, more, boring tale:
Ben lost his iPod shuffle. He got it for Christmas. He is nine. The parents were a little worried about the price, size, age of user ratio but decided this is how lessons are taught, and learned. A few months later, he lost it.
The circumstances were cloudy and they hesitated to replace it too easily, and held off. Searches were conducted, mine, perhaps, the most assiduous.
Meanwhile, May, June, etc. No new iPod. No new searches. Occasional references. Grannie has a much used shuffle, old edition, and the tuner thing in the cord, which they now know was a bad idea, craps out.
New baby. Lots of shopping, meal exchanges, money changing hands, favors earned and owed, Fran buys grannie a new iPod. Me: "Don't tell Ben." Fran: Don't tell Steven".
TWO days later, Steven calls Fran saying he turned in his credit card points and is getting two new shuffles and some Wii accessory. Ben hears. Knows he is getting one of them. He served his time for a cloudy crime. "Act surprised when Steven gives it to you." "Two of them? Damn, we coulda saved fifty bucks".
Fast forward THREE days, today, July 01, 2011:
Package arrives at door containing the two new free iPods. Stephanie comes over with her three little girls. Going through the toy boxes and tables in the playroom, Hannah finds Ben's long lost blue iPod.
Not a big deal, I know, but shades of O'Henry and downright weirdness in this story somewhere.
I don't think we ever even called on Saint Anthony in regard to this one.