When I got my 23 and Me test results back, I knew the reputation the test had for stirring up drama in families. Secret affairs, hidden adoptions, your great-grandparents actually being first cousins. Things like that.
But my results revealed a far tougher pill to swallow than anything I could have imagined. Turns out I am actually my parents’ kid. I am, definitely, genetically, and undeniably, the product of two middle-class white people from a boring Indiana suburb.
I’ve never felt more betrayed in my entire life.
All these years… they weren’t lying to me. They weren’t protecting me from my duty to the throne in a small European principality, or from a legacy in an old money crime family. This genetics test says I’m actually the child of my father—a guy who listens to Weird Al songs at the gym and falls asleep watching Crocs vs. Sharks on Animal Planet—rather than the forbidden result of an international spy couple’s steamy affair.
Are you kidding me, Mom and Dad? How could you two have been so selfish?
I opened this Pandora’s box, and now I know I really did come from the womb of a woman who believes “I can’t believe it’s not butter!” tastes “just as good” as the real thing. I truly am the genetic material of two people who cut coupons, and enjoy bird watching, and decorate their home with “live, laugh, love!” signs from TJ Maxx.
I want to shake them and demand answers. If we're so “related,” how do you explain my taste for the finer things, like brand names and ten-dollar wines, when you two love a good Three Buck Chuck? Why are my eyes such stunning hazel while yours are both poop brown with a little bit of green thrown in? How can we be genetically similar if I’d never shop at a TJ Maxx when there’s a Target right around the corner?
I’m different! I want to scream. I have taste! I like classical music samples in rap songs! These people think a nice arrangement of fruit at the grocery store is art!
What hits hardest is knowing that now I have to say goodbye to the celebrities I’ve always hoped, deep down, could have been my real dad. I’m not Johnny Depp’s child, despite that emotional connection I’ve always felt watching the Willy Wonka remake, or David Copperfield’s, who was so mysterious that he never gave me any reason to think he wasn’t my dad.
The Blue Power Ranger. Barack Obama. The Brawny man. Anderson Cooper, Mr. Met, the guy who created the Muppets, Bob Barker, Nicholas Sparks, Siri's Voice's Dad, Kramer from Seinfeld, the guy who played Kramer on Seinfeld, Danny DeVito, Israel Kamakawiwo?ole, Michael Jordan and the dad in the stock photo of my picture frames. Merrick Garland, Tupac Shakur, the guy in the senator’s office who hangs up on my phone calls, Mr. Incredible, Mr. Miyagi, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Siegfried and/or Roy.
It hurts just to think about. My mother, a lifelong elementary school teacher in suburban Indiana, could have easily gone out on a limb and had an affair with one of these celebrities any time before I was born. But she didn’t, and instead I’m stuck with a dad who uploads photos upside down on Facebook.
I have no choice. I’m going to start a new life, very far, far away from these two people who never even considered lying to me about my identity from the day I was born. And when I have my own kids someday, I won't make the same mistake. I’m going to tell them they’re holograms.