After years of wondering where I got my compulsion to flick errant crumbs off messy eater’s lower lips, I decided to trace my ancestry with one of those DNA kits.
It’s been quite a journey. So far, I’ve discovered:
- I had a great uncle who was a failed bootlegger of non-alcoholic whiskey.
- My quarter half aunt twice removed was the first female elevator operator to announce: “Third floor, women’s lingerie.”
- An extremely distant relative on my father’s side cured a young Abraham Lincoln of his stove pipe hat phobia.
- My paternal great-great-great-grandfather was the first Pony Express rider disciplined for riding side saddle.
- My great-great-not-so-great-aunt traveled with her husband to California in 1850. After their gold mine went bust, she opened the world’s first brothel for pets.
- Immigration agents at Ellis Island granted my great-great-great-grandfather entry to the United States, but not his pet komodo dragon.
- I’m also related to Lewis and Clark’s first official biographer, who in 1813 was fired for refusing to remove a chapter titled: “More Than Just Good Friends.”
My DNA search didn’t lead me to an explanation of my crumb flicking urges, but it’s nice to know I have enough interesting descendants to more than make up for our present day family of couch potatoes.
Ben Alper writes for late night talk show hosts, comedians and others. He is the author of “Thank You for Not Talking: A Laughable Look at Introverts.”