Tuesday, July 10, 2018

"The Right Not To Know"

Any Jew I know who’s checked into their ancestry discovers they are related to the medieval Chief Rabbi of Warsaw.

That guy must have had a truckload of children.

I do not get the appeal of knowing about my past.  Drumroll:  “The Indignant Uproar.”

“Don’t you care about your ancestors?”  (Read in the same tone as “Don’t you care about abandoned pussycats?”)

Full Disclosure: Grandparents, sure.  Great grandparents, a little.  After that, 

Not at all.

“You could be descended from a noble lineage.”

Or eminent scalawags.

Or – most likely of all – 

Ordinary people. Nothing to be ashamed of, but not worth paying somebody good money to dig up.

“He had a store.  That’ll be five hundred dollars.”

Thanks, but I’ll pass.


“A man doesn’t care about his ancestors.  Who does he think he is?”

“How should he know? He refuses to find out.”

“I say we disown him!”


“Gentlemen! Please!  A man has a right to live the life that he chooses.”


“Wise words from the Chief Rabbi of Warsaw.”

I mean even if I were related to the Chief Rabbi of Warsaw what does that make me?

Still a consultant on According To Jim.

Shameful Confession Numero Dos:

As I am – ignominiously – disinterested in my past, I am equally uncurious about my future.

During my occasional “Saturday Morning Walks” along the Venice Boardwalk, I see signs advertising experts, promising accurate forecasts of your unforeseeable – except by them – Destiny. 

For a fee.

(This compensation issue keeps cropping up.  My brother wrote an aphorism about me:  “He would never buy anything from anyone trying to sell it to him.”  That’s not literally true, or I wouldn’t have anything. But, you know… they have an agenda.)

The Venice Beach walkway is prominently festooned with hand-painted signs promoting:  Palm reading.  Tarot cards.  Crystal balls.  

I am availably open to alternate avenues unveiling the murky “Mysteries of Life.”  But who exactly are these Swami-wannabes?  Where are their credentials?  

Don’t you think these practitioners vary wildly in their “clairvoyance”?  What if you get a substandard prognosticator?

“I’m sorry.  I forgot to shuffle the cards.  You’re not going to die.  That was the customer before you.”

Even if their abilities are “Top Drawer”, why do I need the aggravation?  If they say what I want to hear, I’ll be skeptical.  And if it’s horrible, I’ll be depressed.

Which brings me to doctors. Who have credentials, and proven healing abilities, though their inherent value is less appreciated when they pay inordinate attention to “Worrying Indicators” revealed in “The Testing”, terrifying the patient as they punt them to specialists for “Further attention.”  And then,


“That’s great.  But what do I do with my adrenaline?”

I am not an idiot. (At least not in all cases.  I don’t think.)  I understand the idea of “Catching it early”, although I am unclear on the precise boundaries of “Early.”  More and more, people are opting for screenings for future chronic diseases.  To me, this procedure seems questionable.

“My tests came back. I’m going to get (PLACE “TERRIBLE DISEASE” NAME HERE) when I’m sixty.”

“How old are you now?”


“Well, enjoy the wait.”

Ican handle it.  What am I missing here?  

“Get ready to be sick in twelve years.”

Tell me in eleven-and-a-half.  (Or better yet, never)  Why extend the anxiety? 

You know what else seems overrated to me? 

“Getting your affairs in order.”

First, I am not exactly sure what that involves.  Cancelling magazine subscriptions?  And second, how long does “Getting your affairs in order” actually take?

“I finished in two hours. Now what?”

Okay, I’m a little hyper today.  After a routine checkup, my “Primary Care” physician recommended a “follow-up” with a urologist.  I cannot predict the outcome of that impending appointment but at the very least I anticipate the unwelcome visit of a probing finger.  

I understand “Bad news” is an inevitable part of human existence.  But I tell my doctors, “No more than I need to hear, and no sooner than I need to hear it.”

You know what?

They don’t listen.


Soothsayers, “Savonarolas” and scarifying sawbones.

I have my hands full with the concept of “Be Here Now.”

Who needs the added responsibility of “Be Here Then” and “Be Here Later”? 


YEKIMI said...

All I know is that on my dad's side of the family, I am related to one of the first kings of Ireland and somehow to the royal family through a Prince of Wales and on my mom's side, some Russian Czar somewhere in the past. That's as far as I've taken it. I just assume that for me to become King of England that there's about 3 billion people in front of me that need to die first before I get to wear the crown....and the list is getting longer thanks to Prince William and his offspring.

Anonymous said...

I used to be in the mobile windshield replacement bidness. Pulled up to a house out in the country, man comes out looks like he’s been blasted in the head by a ray gun. He had sorta, turns out he had terminal brain cancer, and the radiation didn’t work. He was cleaning out the garage whilst listening to gospel music. Said he was trying to get all the chores done so his wife wouldn’t have to. Makes a fella think.