Monday, October 29, 2018


I have probably mentioned before how contentiously difficult it seems to be to hold a belief or opinion that the person you are conversing with does not.  The seeming most one-side perspective you’d think everyone would agree on…

“I don’t like licking the sidewalk.”

CLOSETED SIDEWALK LICKER:  “So what are you saying?”

Bearing the pointed, unspoken inference, “… about me?”

That’s the extreme version, saying you can’t even be certain about that, being unable to anticipate the subliminal context.

“My Dadlicked sidewalks.  And he was a wonderful provider!”

And then you’re off to the races.  

“God!  You are so judgmental!

And before you know it, you’re down licking the sidewalk, trying to assure them you’re not.  

Well, Sir and Madam, and everything else along the genderical spectrum,

If you can incur hostile reactions to stuff you’d think everyone would agree with, imagine – as he comes to the point – what one has to put up with, not actively opposing, but just being shruggingly lukewarm to something enjoyed and appreciated by others.

Per exemplo:

Wanting to know more about your ancestors.

This has become “Big Business”, people laying out large sums to unearth unknown specifics about their family background.  I know a lot about three of my grandparents – the fourth one died before I was born, and – put down those rotten tomatoes – for me, that’s pretty much all that I need.

Combine my minimal interest in long-gone progenitors with being a congenital “Scam Detector”, and I’m just – hold the derisive abuse – not really a fan. 

Concerning the second point in that sentence, I am so adept at sniffing out “flim-flam”, I smell conspiracies when they aren’t even there. 

“I got a tax refund.”

MY ACCOUNTANT:  “Put it in the bank.”

“They don’t secretly wantsomething?”

“They are giving you backsomething.”

“Okay.  I just wanted to make sure.”

Acknowledging my innate suspicious proclivities, still – and I may be way off – the burgeoning industry of “Wanna know where you came from?” seem inordinately fishy to me.

My (second-hand) personal experience is that many people of my religious heritage have delved into their backgrounds, only to discover they are descended from the patriarchal Chief Rabbi of Lublin.

Too many, to my way of skeptical thinking.  If this revelation were actually the case, that patriarchal Chief Rabbi spent less time studying the Talmud than being fruitful and multiplying. 

Highly Suspicious Bottom Line:  When there’s inevitably glorious “good news”?

I smell a Genealogical rodent.

Here’s something I have never seen on Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s self-explanatory Finding Your Rootsshow,on those occasions I uncuriously tune in.

And here we go.


“What do you know about your family?”

“I know my paternal Grandfather invented the can opener.  But I guess that’s about it.”

“Are you ready to learn more?”

“Let’s ride!”

“I like your attitude. Now Daniel – so I am no talking about me – we’ve done some extensive research, tracing your ‘Family Tree’ back to the late 19th Century in Russia. And the earliest relatives we uncovered were your Great-Great-Grandfather – we have the Bialistok census records to confirm his original birthplace – Pincus Finkelman, who was a convicted kidnapper, and his wife Shprinzkale, pronounced Shprinz-ka-leh, who was a professional prostitute.”


“Interesting factoid?  He actually kidnapped her.”

“They must have been very much in love.”

“The local newspaper suggests otherwise.  Her parents, Morris and Dvosha Teitelbaum, were unwilling to pay the ransom, so he kept her.”   

“At least he didn’t throw her into the street.”

“Apparently, he did. But like a lucky kopek, Shrprinzkale kept coming back to the house.”

(SOMEWHAT WARILY)  “Anything else you discovered?”

“Lots!  Your Great Grandfather Moishie seems to have stolen an ‘Exit Visa’ from a neighbor, emigrating to this country under a false name.”

“So my last name isn’t real?”

“It’s real.  But it belongs to the neighbor.”

“Great Grandfather Moishie must have been pretty desperate to get out.”

“He sure was.  He had outstanding debts all over Bialistok.  He skipped town one step ahead of the law.”

(CONCEDINGLY)  “Okay.  How about the relatives on my mother’s side?  Any better news there?”

“This one goes way back.  During the 1820’s in frontier America, your maternal Great Great Great Great Uncle… CHECKING THE OFFICIAL RECORDS)… Irving Teplitzsky, a trader in dry goods, lived with the Seminole Indians in Florida.”

That’spretty cool.”

“Recently released documents indicate that during the infamous ‘Trail of Tears’, your maternal ancestor sold the tribe blankets before they left.”

“All right!  A compassionate relative.”

“They were apparently pretty thin blankets.  

“At least he was trying.” 

“And investing his extensive profits on a flourishing Department Store in Orlando.”

(VISIBLY DEFLATED) “Well, who wouldn’t?”

“You know, that’s not your family’s only connection to the ‘Great Moments in American History.’  During the Civil War, a distant relative, Mordechai Gottlieb, was imprisoned at Andersonville.”

“‘Andersonville.  I heard that was terrible!”

“A deeper dip into the archives reveals he sold out some fellow inmates planning an escape for a heavier mattress.”

“Can we move this along, please?”

“Of course.  During the Depression, your Grandmother Sadie opened a free ‘Soup Kitchen’ for indigent families.”


“Which was immediately shut down, due to a sudden outbreak of botulism.”


“That’s quite a legacy you are informing me about here.  Oh well. At least my paternal Grandfather invented the can opener.”

“I was just coming to that. According to an obscure self-published autobiography by Homer Spinney, who worked for your paternal Grandfather as a handyman, while re-hanging a door in the basement, your Great Grandfather locked Homer Spinney in the newly-repaired closet, ran down to the Patent Office, and registered the invention under his own name.”

“Come on!  You’re rescinding ‘The can opener’?”

“Not me.  Recorded history.  Now, would you like to hear some little-known tidbits about your parents?” 

“I think I’m finished.”

“Your call.  Still, it’s been pretty interesting, hasn’t it?” 

“Information I could not possibly have lived without.  Well at least I’m okay.”

“And against serious odds, it would appear.  Though your bloodlines remain questionable.”


Though I (inadvertently negatively) used a Jewish example, this historical “Beat- down” could happen to anyone. You exhume buried “‘Mysteries of History” and you have no idea what’s going to crawl out.

“ANCESTOR” ENTHUSIAST: “Which says exactly what about me if I want to.”

And there I am, back licking the sidewalk.

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