I’ve been researching my roots lately, which is a pretty enjoyable way to toss off a decade or two if you don’t mind getting dirt under your fingernails. Turns out some of my relations went into hiding after the great elm blight of 1845 and still refuse to come out except to play the lottery once a week. Having thus sent the grubs scurrying, I was determined to shake the family tree more vigorously still, let the nuts fall where they may.
The first acorn that donked me on the noggin was a great-great-uncle Abner (on sober reflection, he really wasn't that great) who founded something called the “Gentlemen's Agrarian Society,” known to the community and the constabulary as “GAS.” The avowed charter of this organization, insofar as I've been able to ascertain from reading the stained bar napkins in the archives, was to “advance the scince [sic] of agromony [sic] by studying the final metabolioc [sic] products of feed ingeston [very sic] [hic!].
Moving on without further needful comment (after washing my hands repeatedly), we come to Jacques, my third cousin twice-removed (the second time by the police) or, as his cronies referred to him, “Stumpy.” Cousin Stumpy lived down in Cajun country (ooo-wee!) and had an affinity for feedin' gators. Mostly what he fed them was parts of himself; whether or not that was intentional is hard to tell. Late in life he apparently got a hankerin' to take up flippin' flapjacks while riding a unicycle but this career change, predictably, didn't pan out. It did lead to a short period of quasi-celebrity when a local Buddhist filmmaker shot a silent documentary about him titled, “What is the Sound of One Foot Pedaling?” It came in dead last at the Houma Festival Cinématographique, within spittin' distance of the myopic biopic “Granny Didn't See So Good.” (Grand-mère ne voit pas bien, n'est pas?) All that spittin' ruined the only print of both films, sadly.
Way, way back, down in the heartwood fungus-ravaged trunk of the ancestral stinkwood, there was a fella who somehow wrangled himself the title of (Duke, Duke, Duke) Duke of Pottingshed—more likely than not by marrying the hapless dowager Duchess after a spirited evening of “hide the hedgehog.” The noble Duke went on to earn quite a name for himself in the House of Lords by repeatedly ruining the shrubbery and his penchant for breaking into I'm a little despot whenever certain topics were brought up for debate on the chamber floor, which he no doubt regarded his sovereign territory by right of settlement.
My great-aunt Claudabelle, who called herself Pseuzanne, was a staple in early Atlantic City, billed as the world's most lifelike female impersonator. The fact that she actually happened to be a woman only seemed to add to her credibility on stage.
There are more weevils under the bark, but Spring is nigh and I feel an irrepressible urge to go soak my bud.