Now that I'm over 50, I've become particularly curious about my lineage. I didn't much care about it when I was in my 20s, 30s or 40s but I now feel a strong urge to learn about my roots. Am I distantly related to Lincoln or Gandhi or Dickens or Attila the Hun?
Okay, Attila the Hun might be a stretch.
Apparently, I am not alone in this newfound quest. More than a few of my 50-something friends have been captured by the same urge.
So I signed up for Ancestry.com to see what their experts could find out. After filling out their detailed forms regarding ancestors that I actually knew something about (for me that went back to my great-great grandparents), and paying their fee, I breathlessly awaited their research.
What I learned was nothing short of astounding!
According to Ancestry.com, I am distantly related to a Paleolithic man named Gurk and his wife Blech, who lived in a cave on the cul-de-sac of a community called Fep, which was located in what is now southern Germany roughly a million years ago.
I have absolutely no doubt that this is true -- Gurk and I have so much in common that a genetic link is indisputable. Gurk had brown hair (as do I) and was a hunter-gatherer, as am I. (I hunt for bargains and gather money.) Blech had an outgoing personality and was said to be the life of the party. (I have been told the same thing!)
Gurk and I have the same taste in fashion. (He favored animal skins and I have a leather jacket.) Both Gurk and Blech loved to swim and often vacationed by a lake in nearby Bup (I was on the swim team in high school and own a lakeside timeshare.) Blech had bad teeth and so do I! And get this -- I too live on a cul-de-sac!
But there's more!
Seven-hundred thousand years later, give or take, long after Gurk and Blech had passed away, their descendent, Migbik, moved his family to what is now Jordan (my current girlfriend's name is Jordan), where he became a shepherd (my dog is a German Shepherd.) Migbik was very tall (as am I) had large feet (as do I) and many wives (as did I -- the alimony is killing me).
Cut to Egypt, 200 BCE. A descendent of Migbik's named Frepl, son of Aybich, was the Pharaoh's sandal maker (I always wear flip flops). Records indicate that Frepl, son of Aybich, had a great sense of humor (I've been known to tell a zinger or two at dinner parties.) When he was very old, he liked to say, "I'm so old, I was around when the Dead Sea was still sick." (Thank God he kept a list of his favorite jokes on a papyrus scroll that Ancestry.com managed to find buried deep under a bus stop in Cairo.)
But here's the most amazing part -- Frepl named his third son Nhoj, which is my first name spelled backward!! How much more proof do you need?
Centuries later, the descendants of Frepl, son of Aybich, moved to Italy (I love Italian food!) then their descendants settled in Germany (I drive a Mercedes) and finally to New York where I was born. Now that I've done the Ancestry.com thing, I can almost feel Gurk and Blech and Migbik and Frepl, son of Aybich, in my genes. I so want to draw something on a cave wall.
I'm sure my father must be getting the same subtle genetic messages from the Gurk family DNA floating around in his chromosomes. After all, he named me John. Obviously, he got the idea from Frepl, son of Aybich. Recently, I asked him why he gave me that moniker. He said: "Your mother and I couldn't decide on a name after you were born. I had to pee so I asked a nurse where the john was. The rest is history."
Disappointing yes, but at least he didn't name me Aybich. That would have been hell on the playground.