Thursday, August 30, 2012
A while back a reader asked, "How did you come up with the name von Strassenberg? It's so sinister."
The first name I used wasn't von Strassenberg, nor was it as sinister sounding as von Strassenberg...which is probably why I dropped that idea.
It's actually kind of a silly story.
And not a short one either.
See, my junior year in high school I participated in the Model United Nations. That year I was only the recorder of votes. In the room I had been assigned there was this tall handsome young man in a hideous jacket. And his tie was atrocious.
But all that mattered not when he spoke.
He was foreign. German most likely. And smart. I can still hear his voice saying to the other delegates, "China is not a capitalist country."
I was smitten.
Afterwards I had worked up the nerve to go talk to him but some perky pixie blonde got to him first. They got onto a bus that took them back to a town an hour away from my own.
I was determined.
A friend of mine asked why I was so despondent and I said, "O but I am in love and he is going away on that bus and I don't even know his name," and then I fainted lightly upon a conveniently placed chaise lounge.
No. We were still in the musty auditorium.
"I have a cousin who lives there," he tells me. And the plot began.
So my friend calls his cousin who of course knows of this foreign exchange student. It's a small town, small school. Foreign exchange students are like rock stars. So the cousin gets the address of the young German man and gives it to his cousin, my friend, who gives it to me. I then pen a letter professing my love...nearly.
He writes back and wants a picture.
I send one.
"Oh good," he tells me. "I was afraid you were a fat, ugly American girl."
This set the tone for our entire relationship, one of snark and harsh honesty. One that carried on for three years. This was before email and facebook. Actually I think we got email halfway through. Ach. It was soooo romantic.
When news of my engagement to my first husband reached him, this young German man wrote to me, "NO!" he proclaimed. "Don't marry him. Come to Germany! Runaway with me!" Seriously he did. I would post a pic of the letter but my fiance at the time found it, tore it in shreds, burned it and flushed it down the toilet. Yes. He did.
So what does this have to do with the von Strassenbergs?
Only a little bit.
You see I can still remember that young man's address and I always thought his street name was fun to say. Trusetaler Strasse. Strasse. Strassen. von Strassenberg
That's how it happened.