Friday Funny: Thwarting the descendants

In the field of family history it’s fair to say not everyone gets excited by shipping lists, birth certificates, parish registers, and military files. I don’t. I’ve had nightmares about such things. Well, actually, I haven’t, but working in Heritage I fully expect to one day, because it has crossed my mind many, many times that family history is just a legitimate form of stalking. Especially when the people aren’t even dead.

For those who have relatives – which would be pretty much everyone – it’s possible that one day you may be the victim of stalking by some great, great, great grand-person who decides they want to conduct a little “research” into their ancestors. You would be forgiven for thinking this is creepy.

But what’s to be done? What can you do to avoid this if you value your privacy, if you don’t particularly want people, even if they are related to you, poking into your business - even many, many, many decades after your demise? How can you throw this potential “researcher” off your trail and thwart him in his tracks?

I offer suggestions. Caveat: no living or dead person, in any capacity, other than the author, i.e. me, endorses these, and to be fair, even I have grave doubts about a few of them. But here goes…

First up. Spread rumours about yourself. One of the traps the “researcher” may fall in to is to believe the rumour, and analyse the nefarious titbit to the extent that they ignore the real stuff. A hidden spouse, a virgin birth, a secret baby, some folie a deux - these are all fabulous tropes, much like the plot of a romance novel. Fortunately in our enlightened times, the notion of morality is out the window, and in fact the opposite is to be celebrated, so go hither and create a scandal or two. Preferably with progeny. Just don’t get carried away and hurt anyone real although you, of course, may appear emotionally wrecked because of this supposed incident. That would be quite brilliant.

Second. Claim you were adopted. Admittedly, most of us grew out of that fantasy before high school, but you can resurrect it easily enough. Brainstorm with fellow family history-phobics. Plot your story. Have turning points and an inciting incident. Milk that conflict. Give it a black moment and do try and fit some sexual tension in there. Leave no stone unturned. Remember this is not lying. It is creating. Creation is good. And the sublime beauty of it is you don’t need proof. That’s for your ‘researcher’ to tear their hair out trying to find.

Third. Throw in lots of mentions of another country to set people on a false trail. It might pay to go there as well and take photos. Target some unsuspecting but very rich and attractive local and make sure you get plenty of selfies with them around.  Preserve the pics. This will arouse the suspicion of the future “researcher”. They won’t be able to sleep for trying to figure out what you were doing in this country, and who that person was, and do they, your descendant, in fact possess this mystery person’s DNA and quite possibly a claim on their fortune? Photobombing a local politician could work to your advantage, too.

Fourth. Stalk.
Now, settle down.  I know what you’re thinking. Hashtag hypocrite.

But we are not talking stalking a real person here, or any kind of harassment. (See New Zealand legal information). We are not even talking cyberstalking with fake Twitter and Facebook accounts. We are suggesting stalking a ‘thing’. For example – just throwing this out there – stalking rugby league.

For example, you genuinely loathe league, loathe it passionately, and everyone knows it. What better way to arouse the suspicious mind of your future relative than to start quietly admiring it, and most of all documenting this perplexing admiration but without giving a sufficiently believable explanation. You head off to games. At work you start throwing around phrases like “goal line dropout,”  “knock on” and “credit to the boys.” You have in your desktop favourites. You appear at press conferences with a fraudulent media pass. (I have no clue how that happens but I’m sure you can figure it out.)

Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19190717-40-1
Be diligent with your documentation so the future “researcher” latches on to this, suspicion mounts, over-thinking will occur, scenarios begin to haunt them at 2am rendering them useless at the day job. The point? That you have something to hide. That there is some dark, possibly deviant family secret lurking just out of reach, something you’ve never admitted to although this “researcher” just knows the puzzle is waiting to be solved. Family historians thrive on this kind of torture, this chase for the truth. Visualise yourself rubbing your spiritual hands together from the grave, or wherever it is they have disposed of your remains in years to come.

Fifth, and finally, this is a biggie. You must record fake death bed confessions even if you are young with no discernible health issues. In some circles this is known as oral history. It behoves you, if you are indeed serious about thwarting this blood related “researcher,” to cover all bases. It would be helpful to leave the recording with your lawyer: this information coming out prior to your demise would totally jeopardise your scheming and unravel horrifically and possibly quite humiliatingly, in front of you.  But exercise caution with your confessions. Your future “researcher” might be able to sniff out crazy. Just give them enough to tantalise. To set them off down a long and winding road from which they might never return.

That, then, should do it, so that you go to your grave confident your future relations have no idea who they’re actually dealing with.

And remember this. Biography is fact. Autobiography is fiction. 

Go forth, create, and thwart.

Joanne Graves

This entry was posted on Friday, 17 October 2014 and is filed under ,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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