Wanna Know Who You Really Are? Spit Here.

5 Jun

by Roger White                                                                              


So the wife finally convinced me to do this ancestry DNA thing you’ve probably heard or read about. Ya know, you send in your DNA sample to this mad scientist type place somewhere in Utah and a few months later you get to find out you’re not Scotch-Irish like you’ve been told since you were 3 but are in fact one-fifth Bosnian-Herzegovinian with a touch of Latvian Orthodox and a slight dusting of the Saskatchewan Moose Jaw Clan. Which is probably why your family just said you were Scotch-Irish and left it at that. Much simpler.

Anyway, one day the wife hands me this cardboard box and excitedly proclaims, “Here’s your kit! Time to provide your sample!”

I was instantly horrified. The only “samples” I’ve ever had to provide for medical/research purposes involved either (a) needles, blood, and pain; (b) sitting alone in a room with a tiny container, some tissues, and a “men’s” magazine while trying hard to think sexy thoughts; or (c) forcibly going to the bathroom and then, while completely mortified, placing my uncomfortably warm “sample” into a tray in the wall of my examination room while praying to God no one opens the tray from the other side of the wall while I’m providing my uncomfortably warm “sample.”

To my great relief, I found out that the ancestry guys just wanted my spit. For a moment, as I self-consciously began earnestly trying to hock up a nice loogie, I eyed Ralph asleep on the floor and pondered what the results would be if I gave them a vial of elderly long-haired dachshund saliva. “Dear Mr. White,” I envisioned, “from your unique DNA sample, our labs have concluded that you are eight-tenths Old World German with a family history of hunting badgers and an unusual tendency toward heartworm. For long-term health, you may consider drinking less from the toilet and going for ‘walkies’ at least three times a week.”

But no, I diligently hocked up my sample, sealed my little vial, and we both shipped off our DNA data in hopes of discovering if great-great-great-great-great grandpappy was perhaps Nebuchadnezzar II or Spike Jones or whoever.

We have since been in the “waiting phase,” while—according to the company literature—the DNA lab experts and biochemists in white labcoats spend arduous weeks attempting to deconstruct our respective spittles down to the double-helix level and painstakingly extract our ancestry information. A substantial part of me thinks that in reality, there’s a big basement room in Provo somewhere with a giant wall map of the world and a bunch of guys in t-shirts and sweatpants armed with darts.

“OK,” a rotund guy yells out, still munching a pizza crust, slouched at his chair. “Watch out. This one is for, let’s see, this dude’s name is ‘White.’” He reaches into a coffee can full of darts, takes a dart and heaves it at the wall. “Rocko,” the guy yells. “Where’d that hit?”

Rocko takes a swig of Miller Lite from a longneck bottle and shuffles over to the map. “It’s in the middle of the damn ocean. Try again.”

The rotund “lab expert” sighs and throws another. “Bingo!”

Rocko burps and leans down to inspect the dart’s landing zone. “Bolivia. Somewhere in the middle of Lake Titicaca. Wow.”

“How ’bout that? Bet the guy never knew he was one-quarter Titicacan. OK, watch out, here goes again…”

I’m hoping that’s not how it goes, but the cynic in me can’t help but think the whole thing is at least a little bit scammy. I did read somewhere that the results aren’t 100 percent accurate and that some folks tend to be over-identified Scandinavian for some reason. I guess Scandinavian is the default heritage, kind of like on the Magic 8 Ball how more times than not the answer is “Results Hazy. Try Again Later.”


Roger White is a four-sevenths Scandinavian freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely six-elevenths Creole wife, two half-Sri Lankan daughters, a full-blooded Obesian dachshund, and a cat that refuses to provide a sample. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.


5 Responses to “Wanna Know Who You Really Are? Spit Here.”

  1. Catherine Clark June 5, 2017 at 3:08 pm #


    I can’t wait to learn the results of your DNA ancestry test.

    My older son, medical doctor, thinks this DNA exploration is interesting but He worries that people receiving the results will do crazy/odd stuff to address the results of the genetic profile. He believes we all have some conditions that lie dormant — we would be better off just not knowing about them. (Ask me about an adrenal incidentaloma that a friend learned about when she had a full body CAT scan instead of a colonoscopy—her decision to have the CAT scan.)

    Anyhow, I am glad that you presume your ancestry is from the British Isles. My family also led me to believe that’s my ancestry. I plan to stick to the legend (hey, Trump is president; who needs facts.)



    • oldspouse June 5, 2017 at 3:33 pm #

      Interesting, CC. Lately, I’ve taken to wearing kilts with lederhosen underneath, just to be safe.

  2. Matthew June 5, 2017 at 4:47 pm #

    Are you at all concerned that you could be identified for some past transgression through your DNA and then one afternoon there is a knock on the door? “Mr. White, you have been identified in a criminal investigation from 1923…” Then you scream “It’s not me, I wasn’t a live back then.” and the cop says “DNA doesn’t lie!” Then I have to be the neighbor who gets interviewed on the news and say something like “We had no idea, he seemed like such a nice guy.” or worse I have to say “The guilty ones always say ‘it wasn’t me'”… 🙂 Great signature on this one!

    • oldspouse June 5, 2017 at 5:38 pm #

      But it wasn’t! I mean, I was, but not the me you know. you know? OK, the deal is I was the unknowing subject of covert Black Ops psychedelic drug experiments back in the 60s, and it completely altered my DNA structure. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. I’m actually a smallish Greek woman with large calves.

  3. PARTNERING WITH EAGLES July 27, 2018 at 8:51 am #

    Nothing like great satire… All told, the cat would seem to be the smartest one… (lol)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: