Names and coincidences

Posted on March 20, 2010

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Some coincidences are more coincidental than others.

At least, that’s what I say.

You walk down a street. The street is in a neighbourhood you’ve visited often with a friend. As you enter one particular store you suddenly think of your friend. Inside the store you find your friend robbing it.

Coincidental, yes. But not earthshakingly strange.

You walk down the street. The street is in a city on the other side of the world where you, and no one you know, has previously visited. As you enter a bank to convert your currency, you do not think of your friend for even a second. Inside the bank you find your friend depositing the money he’d just now robbed from the store next door.

Do you see what I mean? Because I really don’t.

Whatever I mean, however, some coincidences are more coincidental than others.

My first child was a girl. Her mother and I named her Ayesha, after H. Rider Haggard’s heroine in She. Everything we knew about the name came from that novel: the tale of a beautiful, immortal woman who rules with an iron fist over a lost nation in Africa. As a result, we thought “Ayesha” meant “She Who Must Be Obeyed.”

Shortly after Ayesha’s birth, my wife and I walked by a rack of books, one of which was called 10,000 Baby Names and their Meanings — or some such. (I’ve never understood why all these books have to say “Baby Names.” Is there a difference between our baby names and our adult names?) On impulse, we stopped to see if it had “Ayesha.” Beside me another couple stopped. I took down one book, they took down the copy under it. My wife and I found both the name and the meaning (She Who Lives). Beside me the couple had their copy open to the same page.

To get to the obvious point of the story: they’d just had a baby girl, named her Ayesha, and now wanted to know what it meant.

I know. Weird, right?

But wait, there’s more.

Some time later we had twin boys. Due to a possibly-excessive admiration for Lord of the Rings, we named one of them Aragorn.

Now time passes. Pages blow off a calendar. More children are born as seasons come and seasons go. Events continue apace, and our marriage ends. She marries again. I marry again. I bring the legacy of five children into my second marriage. My new wife (my present wife) brings but one.

A son.

Named Aragorn.

I know! Weird, right?

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