I was fifteen when my daddy’s old man
Caught me half way through my first beer
He laughed so hard when my face turned green
He said “You come from a long line of sinners like me”
“Oh my goodness I just KNEW it was you,” the nurse burst through my hospital door, rushed over to the bed and gave a gentle side hug, careful to avoid my C-section incision. “I saw your baby in the nursery and I was like… I know those eyes. They’re just like her sister’s! They’re so…” She trailed off, searching for the right word.
“Squinty,” I said, pointing to my own eyes.
“Well, I was going to say almond shaped, but yeah! Squinty!”
My first two daughters are only 16 months apart, and while it seemed like I’d never left the hospital I was impressed with the nurse’s ability to sniff out sisters based on newborn eye shape a year and a half later.
The truth is, my squinty eyed kids (well, two of the three got the squints) come from a long line of squinty eyed folk.
First, there’s me:
Who got them from my Dad
Who got them from his Dad
And so on
I got that last photo – the one of the man who is all TAKE THE PICTURE BEFORE I SHOOT YOU IN THE FACE WITH MY PISTOLON – from Roy. Roy, as of two weeks ago, is my 62-year-old second cousin once removed. I had to draw a diagram but it’s probably easier if I explain it to you in story form:
Once upon a time (in 1956) there was a girl named Doris and a boy named Roy. Doris and Roy were married, and as sometimes happens, expecting their first baby. One day the baby came – a healthy baby boy – and they named him *what else but* Roy, after his dad. Everything was amazing until six months later when Doris up and skipped town with her boyfriend, Edgar. This all came as quite the shock to both Roys, as big Roy was now forced to raise little Roy all by himself. The next time little Roy saw his mom was 28 years later, when she contacted him to deliver the news that big Roy may or may not be his biological father.
Enter 2018 and the miracle of modern DNA testing. Roy and I share 2.22% of our DNA, and his Mom’s boyfriend Edgar, the one who she ran away with when little Roy was six months old, is my Grandpa’s cousin. You do the math.
Hello Hannah – I just want say thank you for your information . Through your input I was able to confirm that I am in fact Edgar Forrest Johnsons son… I can’t thank you enough I can now put it to rest as to who my Father was. I have reconnected with my brothers and sister and plan on a reunion this summer in Oklahoma. Its all because of responding with enough information. When you confirmed your grandfather Claude to being related to Edgar who was born in 1933. Thank you very much this has haunted me since my brother Edgar contacted me when I was 28 years old I did meet Edgar Sr when I was 40 years old in 1995 he passed away 2 months later. I’m very grateful now at 62 years to finally have factual proof. Thank you Hannah feel free to contact me anytime.
Of course I was happy to welcome Roy into the squinty eyed Johnson clan with open arms and a copy of our family bible – a cookbook for every kind of mayonnaise-based casserole you could ever imagine.
I did the 23 and Me genetic testing a few months back and finding long lost cousins (more on that later) was the last thing I expected. I sprung for the health + ancestry; it was a little bit more money but I really wanted to know if my weight-related struggles were genetic or a result of my love for dessert wines. And all wine. And whiskey. And the Taco Bell value menu.
I figured if I was genetically predisposed to weigh more than the average 41-year-old housewife/Mom of three I could stop guilting myself into going to the gym in sub zero temperatures.
“Well, it’s not going to do any good anyway,” I’d say as I stared out the window at the blizzard in my toasty slippers, creamer filled coffee in one hand, scone in the other. “You can’t fight nature.”
Unfortunately, my DNA indicated that I’m predisposed to weigh about average, so when I throw myself onto the bed and cry because my ball gown makes me look like I’ve sprouted back titties, I have to totally own it.
Going into this, the one thing I knew for sure about my family history was that my Great Great Grandma and Great Great Grandpa Frostrom were Sweedish. Like, straight off the boat after living in Sweeden for several generations Sweedish. So my whole family was a little curious about this:
According to my calculations, that should have been more in the double digit range, at least. A phone call to my Mom, then a phone call to her cousin, who had intel from my Great Aunt… dot the “i” and carry the five… as it turns out…*takes long dramatic sip of whiskey sour* there was always speculation that my Great Grandpa wasn’t my Grandpa’s biological father because… *downs remainder of whiskey sour, leans forward* my Great Grandparents were into “WIFE SWAP”, as my Mom put it, in words I never ever want to hear come out of her mouth again.
Yes, Julius and Louella were deep in the swingers game and I suddenly understood why two whiskey drinks give me the insatiable urge to de-robe at parties. I’m not kidding here – my favorite game is something I like to call “boobies gonna getcha”. I’ll leave my room full of friends, sneak into the kitchen, take off my shirt and bra, and then walk back in like nothing is amiss. The end of the game is when my last friend runs cursing and gagging from the room. I’m definitely sensing an ancestral connection – I never knew where this came from until now. I got the squinty eyes AND the naked DNA. Slamma lamma ding dong genetic jackpot baby.
The final bombshell comes in the form of a first cousin nobody knew about who lives about an hour south of me. I have cyberstalked her to the point that I know she was adopted in 1992, has squinty eyes and looks like a clone of my second cousin. That’s about all I can tell you, in that I have no idea if her dad (my uncle, who has now long passed away) or his children knew of her existence (it wasn’t with my aunt, is all I can say). I’ve contacted her twice to get some scoop, but I think the email subject line, “OMG TELL ME EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU!!” may have spooked her off.
All of this information has given me quite the trip down memory lane, even if the memories are completely fabricated by me. Until now the only thought I had given to my ancestors was that they probably had a rough go without a conveniently placed drive through taco joint. But this newfound information has made me realize that they were people, and these people were HORNY.
Your ancestors don’t make you who you are, but they can provide a small piece of the puzzle. Knowing this part of my history – the social faux paus, the screw ups, the squinty eyes, the whiskey, the boobies flying free with little to no regard for my friends’ audible wretching… well, it’s meant something to me to know I come by it all honestly.
My Mom, on the other hand, is incredibly sad that she may not be genetically related to her “Grandpappy”, and also shocked that her grandparents were swingers. They lived in 1920s Nebraska, for christ sakes. She tried to hide the disappointment in her voice as she desperately searched for a bright side. “Well, at least I’m not related to a swinger, I guess.”
Nobody better ever tell her.