Zebra Printed Spandex

You know that moment when your mother hands you a copy of Robert James Waller’s The Bridges of Madison County and says, “Read this—I think you’ll really like it?” And then you do, and the only two questions on your mind are: “What?! Why?!”

Did you read this before you—what?! Wait, why?!

And then you don’t get a straight answer?

I’m not saying my mother had an affair. Although, let’s be honest here; it was the 80s. Everybody made mistakes. But the dialogue of my family tree is spotty at best. Both of my grandmothers got divorces during a time in which it was not kosher to be getting divorced. They were certainly pioneers in that aspect. But their—I don’t know—shame? anger? resentment? has clouded my opportunity to find out more. I have a few pieces, but together they don’t amount to an image.

My parents, also divorced, at least one-upped their former generation by both playing active roles in my life. But with them too, a lack of interest in their background is palpable. Genetics didn’t play a role in their questions because of how they were raised. But I have some questions. And these days, I have the means. I could track down some people using the World Wide Webs. I could send off for a DNA test. I could be on Maury. 

But how great would it be if my mom was just messing with me? I could see doing that to my own children: “Yeah, he’s your father…in a matter of speaking.” Finding out the truth would be to ruin the joke. Isn’t that, in some way, reason enough not to know?