I’m surrounded by people who have paid their fee to Ancestry.com to find out who they really are . Oh , they’re so excited about it !
Ada and I went to dinner last night at a friend’s home . The master of the premises ( so to speak ) , who has a Swedish surname , discovered to his great surprise that he is only 1% Swedish . I kind of felt sorry for the poor guy . He’s done extensive research over the last few years on the family’s Swedish ancestors . He put together a very captivating book that traces his grandfather’s and great grandfather’s travels from Sweden to America. He’s more English and Irish than Swedish , it seems . His Anglophile wife is more Swedish than he is , and she’s not shy about pointing out that awkward bit of information to him. She’s had her DNA done , of course , too.
Another guest at the dinner who’d had her DNA done now knows that she is 1% Jewish and she is suddenly very proud of that . Now she’s contemplating the Holocaust a lot more intensely since she has more skin in the game . I forget what else she says she is . She has always considered herself Hungarian , because that’s the part of the world that her grandparents sprang from . But she’s part English , she said . And , how in the world did she suddenly become part English ? What were those past generations up to , anyway ? The English bit seemed to bother her . She highly recommends the DNA test , though .
My grandparents came from Ireland . All of ’em . If I would have my DNA investigated , I would expect to find that I’m mostly something else , maybe Portuguese or Panamanian or Greek . Hopefully I’d at least stay a couple of percent Irish . My mother’s father was born and raised in County Limerick , which I think is known as originally a Viking town . My father’s side of the family had the dark eyes of the ‘Black Irish’ , descendants of the disastrous Spanish Armada , sailors who were able to make it to shore and perhaps find a pub to dry off in over a few pints and , afterward , to discover Ireland .
If it turned out somehow that I’m a majority English I’d have some serious soul-searching to do . When my grandmother said that ” The devil lives in London ” , she meant that literally . I don’t think that she was ever in London , but if she had been she would have been on the lookout for the cloven-hoofed Prince of Darkness .
Maybe I’m partly Armenian or Russian . If I found out that I’m more Polish than my Polish wife I’d be sorely tempted to rub that in , just as my Swedish friend’s wife seems to like to do . On second thought , though , that wouldn’t go over so well , so maybe not . I’m sure that I’m more Swedish than the Swedish guy , too , by the way . I’d hate to have him find that out . We’ve been friends for so long , after all .
This ancestry thing is just a source of trouble . Why couldn’t those old ancestors just stay put and stick with their own kind !
” Hey , Dude , I’m more Swedish than you are ! ” . Or maybe :
” Hey , Ada , I’m more Polish than you are . Pass the kielbasa, proze ! ” That wouldn’t make for marital bliss , I suspect .
Who the hell are you , anyway ? What if that great great great grandad ………… ? or grandma ……? There was a Jesuit at my high school who used to say something like : If you go back far enough , we’re all related to Adam and Eve . I think that old priest had the right attitude .
So , you find out your ancestry . Maybe , for example , you’re told that you’re only 1% Swedish when you’ve believed all of your life that you’re of Swedish ancestry through and through . So what ? What , now you have to affect an English accent ? Cancel the trip to Stockholm and a few of those offshore islands ?
I see a deal now for the DNA test for a mere $ 79.00 . No offense to all of you participants , but I have a few questions to ask . Do you get a cerificate of authenticity of some kind along with your analysis ? Do they give a money-back guarantee ? What if , when the package arrives , it’s not what you wanted . Can you just send it back ? What if I’m a dissatisfied customer ? Would I get my money back ?
I’m going to leave things just what they are . Heaven forbid I should find out that I’m 20% French ! Then what would I do ? I’d immediately have to buy chic clothes , I suppose , and begin to develop a kind of throat throttle sound and drink espresso . Or is the espresso thing still more Italian ? What if I find out , now that I’m thinking of it , that I’m part Sicilian ? I’d call up my buddy Anthony and ask him what I’d need to know and what I will need to do now . He’d probably secretly deny my ancestry , however , despite my Certificate of Authenticity , and we’d probably end up in una faida familiare , and that would be a shame .
This whole gene thing could get messy . I think I’ll throw the 79 bucks away on a few barrels of beer instead . Or fill my gas tank up .