Joe Weaver

Joe Weaver

Just the other day, my wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. We didn't go out for a fancy dinner and a show. There was no dancing involved. There were no elaborate gifts or overwrought declarations of love. There were no flowers or candy. 

I am thinking I need an office. I don't need a big one, really. I just need someplace where I can write the column in peace. 

I would like to state, before this column starts, that I love writing the column. It's been a pleasure for the last few years to bring to you a little insight, a little opinion and a lot of words. 

I would like to thank those of you who are entertained, both of you, and all those who read each week. I have written about what an effort it is to put out a weekly column each week that is not only easy to read, but is well thought out and of the best quality I can muster. This alone is an achievement. It is not about preparation or research. It's not about struggling with a topic. The difficulty comes from something much more serious. 

My wife and I just got back from the supermarket a little while ago and for most of the way home, we could not stop talking about a woman we met at the bakery counter. 

She was an elderly woman with probably a little too much makeup, colored hair and enormous glasses. She was decked out with a lot of jewelry and wore high heel shoes. She was brassy and bold and definitely was from somewhere well north of here. 

I have been accused of a lot of things in the half-century I have been on this earth, but I have never been accused of being a morning person. I don't hate mornings, per se, but I will admit they are not high on my list of things I enjoy. 

The old wisdom says that first impressions are the ones people remember. It has been said that the first impression is always right and it is always stored in the back of the mind for future reference. I guess this occasionally true, as some people and things never transcend that initial impression. 

This evening, I had pizza for dinner. It wasn't made from scratch, nor was it from a local take-out. It was a boxed frozen pizza from the supermarket. The brand is not important, as I don't want to get into the area of product endorsement, but it has a World War I flying ace on the box. As gourmet food goes, it's lacking a great deal. It's not organic or all-natural. It didn't have any trendy toppings on it. It had four meats, though I can't remember which four meats they were. It's not expensive. It's not award-winning. It is, however, delicious. 

A day or two ago, as I often do, I got a Facebook message from my daughter. Usually, she will check in and let me know how her day is going or how my grandsons are doing, but sometimes it's just something a little frivolous. 

Cooper has complained that he has not been mentioned in a column lately. He's been quite perturbed and does not understand that he cannot be in the column every week. 

A few months ago, my wife convinced me to do one of those at home ancestry DNA things. I had heard horror stories about them, mostly from friends who had whole wardrobes of tin foil about how the DNA was being stored to hold against you at a later date.

 I believed this was hogwash, but that little tiny seed was planted in my head, so the boxed kit sat on top of our refrigerator for a while. Every couple of weeks, my wife would nag me and remind me that I needed to do the test. My lineage is a little goofy, so it would be fun and kinda neat to find out what my makeup is. 

“You need to spit in your tube,” she would say, night after night. The odd thing was, you couldn't eat 30 minutes before spitting in the little plastic tube. A few of you know me, and you know for a fact that I am eating all the time. Catching me with an entire half hour where I have not consumed a beverage other than water or solid food is nearly impossible. After a few months of this, I finally had a spontaneous moment where I had not consumed anything whatsoever. I took my wife's advice and called for her to bring the stupid kit into the living room.

The kit requires a ridiculously large specimen of saliva. I imagine this is in the event they drop some, or spill some on a laboratory table, they have enough to use. I wasn't too keen on this, especially if my DNA was going to be in the hands of someone who has a bad case of the dropsies. I don't know how many ounces they needed, but it seemed okay until I started filling the tube. 

They wanted a lot. 

The human body cannot produce the amount of saliva they require for this kit. I imagine a lot of people see this and toss the hundred-dollar kit into the wastebasket. The company makes their money and you never find out if you are related to the 11th king of Whowhatwheristan. 

Generating this much saliva is not easy. I thought of things I knew would stir up a lot of saliva. I thought of steaks and strawberry shortcake (the dessert, not the cartoon character), of Key lime pie and rare cheeseburgers. I thought of Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. I thought of a big slice from that pizza place I liked in Brooklyn. 

This was harder than I thought and I only filled about half the tube. I thought about more foods and drinks. I thought about s'mores and cupcakes. I thought about Raquel Welch, circa 1968. 

I finally filled the tube. After about a half hour, when I could have been noshing on something, I finally filled the tube with saliva. We put in the solution that helps stabilize it during shipping, put it in the neat little biohazard bag and put it in its little shipping box with a pre-printed label on it. Just like that, a box of my bodily fluids was being sent across the country by the same people who read my magazines before putting them in my mailbox, toss packages haphazardly on my porch, and who seem to bend every greeting card or photo I receive. What could possibly go wrong? 

Well, to make a long story short, I am not related to anyone famous. I am not from some little forgotten part of the world. Like I figured, I am mostly Irish from my mother's side and Polish and a little bit of each Eastern European nation on my birth father's side. I am not descended from greatness. I do have a couple of very distant cousins that live within an hour of me. It might be nice to connect with them and see just how far back we are related. My twin brother asked me about my results. I told him and gave him my log-in to the website. 

“Did you find anything interesting?” I asked him on the phone the other night. 

“Yeah,” he told me, “something very interesting.”

“What did you discover?”

“I discovered that if my twin brother does this dumb thing, I don't have to shell out the hundred bucks to do it.”


Joe Weaver, a native of Baltimore, is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he (usually) writes on the lighter side of family life.


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