Coincidences are weird things. They happen all the time in real life, yet they don’t really work in fiction. The reason they don’t work in fiction is because the writer ultimately has the power to create said coincidences and are therefore not really coincidences, but rather a purposeful device to lead the character and thus the reader down a specific path.
In real life, coincidences are similar to gambling. A gambler sees only his wins and not his losses, no matter how glaring they might be. We see only the pattern we are pre-disposed to see while other patterns go unnoticed. Not only that, but these patterns can only be determined in hindsight. Interesting, but kind of useless.
In my life, one of these patterns is this German thing. I have never had a love of things German. Don’t really enjoy the country overly. Don’t find the people generally charming or kind or friendly. It’s pretty… when it’s not raining or overcast. The schnitzel is good. I like the beer, but none of those things would make me fall in love with all things German. The most interesting thing about Germany (before I met Sparky) was that my high school German teacher had always wanted to visit a leper colony. The class was awful, the language so unsexy, but my teacher had wanted to visit a leper colony and this is what I thought about every day. That and Germany seemed to be all seventies orange and brown.
I took German in high school because I thought Spanish was too low brow and French too high brow. My genius step-dad took German when he was in high school and it was thought that he could help me if I needed it. While he remembered (and still does) everything he learned, it turned out not to be such a good idea to have him tutor me. I held on for those two years because, well, I don’t know. I found it hellish and transferred to Spanish in my junior year having decided that Spanish was not too low brow, I was too low brow for German. I did much better in Spanish.
In college, after a series of majors (English, Biology, Political Science) I finally chose psychology. I know, I know. Psychology is the default major. I chose it after a course in Freudian theory. I loved it. It made sense to me. It followed my intrinsic logic. I won’t go into why this made so much sense to me. (An aside: there are two types of psych majors: those who are looking for self-discovery and therapy via lecture classes and those of us who love the theories. I liked the theories.)
This class lead me to another class in German thinkers. This is where I met Karl Marx and thus gave up my young republican lifestyle to become a Marxist.
I read Thomas Mann and Herman Hesse, Bertolt Brecht and Goethe, Freud and Jung and a whole lot of Nietzsche thrown in. I read countless short stories by German feminists which, like my therapy, changed my way of thinking. (Although, it did lead me to expect Germany to be more egalitarian than it is. I am continually shocked by how, if not outright misogynistic, then at least deeply patriarchal the German culture is.)
Max was named after a character in Herman Hesse’s Demian. In my narcissistic college years, that book spoke to me about me. I knew then that I’d eventually have a kid named Max. It was one of those odd bits of knowledge. I was just waiting for him to show up, really.
Fast forward to meeting and mating with the good old Sparks. When we talked about kids, Max was always there. It was always Max.
It became Maximus because Max is too common, as is Maxilian. I’m a Jennifer, I know the curse of the common name. Maximus allows him to be different if he wants to be different or not if he doesn’t. It gives him a choice. And it’s a really cool comic book name – Maximus von Roder. (It didn’t hurt that it is easily pronounced and spelled in both our languages or that it passed the backdoor test.)
I ended up in Germany with a Kraut husband and a half-breed kid named after a character in a book by a German author. Am I a unique snowflake following a plan laid out by the gods? Perhaps. Or perhaps it’s just a pattern I’m seeing.