Talking to William about "dunking" in the comments on the previous post, I was reminded of the time I learned of my religious heritage on my father's side. A while back, as part of preparation for a family reunion, my Aunt Weezie sent me a booklet in which a cousin had written the genealogy of Dad's family. I won't reveal my maiden name here, but it was a name of German derivation . . . let's say it was Wienerschnitzel. The family book on the Wienerschnitzels was exhaustively researched, going back several generations.
I learned about how the first Wienerschnitzels came from Germany and settled in the Allegheny Mountains. And then I read something that stopped me cold:
"The first Wienerschnitzels to settle in the United States were all drunkards."
It went on to say that they formed close-knit communities with other drunkards. Okaaaaaay. I knew very well that there was alcoholism in the family. But day-um! Do we have to say it like THAT? I wondered if Aunt Weezie had had a hand in editing the Wienerschnitzel history book. She is not known for her tact, and she IS known for getting her way. I began to prepare my rebuttal in my head -- what I would say when I called her:
Aunt Weezie, for heaven's sake, I know you want to be honest, but can't we finesse this a little bit . . . we could say they faced certain "challenges" . . . it IS, after all, a family reunion, it's a "feel-good" occasion . . . it's not like we're going on the freakin' Dr. Phil show . . . and come ON, surely they weren't ALL drunkards . . .
The more I thought about what was written, and what I had to say about it, the more annoyed I became. There was no reason for saying such a thing in a booklet to be distributed at a family reunion! There were elderly people there who would be embarrassed, offended . . . I couldn't believe it.
I went back to read more about the drunken Wienerschnitzels before I called Aunt Weezie. At some point, the historian cousin took to capitalizing "Drunkard," and even calling my kinfolk "devout" in their drunkenness. Devout Drunkards? Oh, wait . . . it doesn't say "drunkard." It says "Dunkard." Dunkard. A Christian sect, precursor to the Church of the Brethren, so named for their practice of Baptism -- of "dunking" church members in imitation of Jesus in the Jordan, for purposes of symbolically cleansing them of their sins and raising them in the likeness of Christ.
Ohhhh. Dunkards. Never mind.
file under: &Family &Can't Make This Stuff Up