My last name, Reger*, is not the most common in the world. If you go looking for famous people, about the only one out there is Max Reger, a German composer and pianist of the late 19th century and early 20th. (Max was also the name given to my parents’ German shepherd.)
So it was entirely novel, reading the story “Bennie” in Jon Raymond’s really excellent story collection Livability, to see this:
I was floored. I showed it around to my family, and watched each one of them have the same reaction: Reading, reading, reading, then suddenly a start, a raising of the eyebrows, looking up and acknowledging that yes, that was actually worth their time.
It had literally never happened to me before, as a reader. I doubt I’ve ever even been reading something and seen Max Reger’s name come up. (He’s not that famous, and I don’t read about classical music basically ever.) Other people must see their names every once in a while, and have probably become slightly more accustomed to the faint shock of it. The rarity of seeing “Reger” out there has never been something I’ve regretted, but it was kind of cool for my name’s sudden appearance to give me such a thrill.
*In case anyone is even remotely interested, the way my family (and, I believe, Max Reger) pronounces my last name rhymes with “kegger” or “beggar” (neither of which makes for the most useful or flattering mnemonic to share with new acquaintances). Not—I repeat, NOT—Ree-ger as in “eager,” “meager,” “big-leaguer,” or anything else that rhymes with “Ree-ger,” a pronunciation that haunted my childhood and that still kind of grates on me.