Thursday, March 27, 2008

It's Family Reunion Time! Where's the Xanax?

Celebrity and politics come together once again with the revelation that Barack Obama and Brad Pitt are ninth cousins, and Hillary Clinton and Angelina Jolie are ninth cousins, twice removed. (This information is brought to you courtesy of the New England Historic Genealogical Society.)

I've never understood the term "twice removed," so I did a little research.

According to genealogy.com:
When the word "removed" is used to describe a relationship, it indicates that the two people are from different generations. You and your first cousins are in the same generation (two generations younger than your grandparents), so the word "removed" is not used to describe your relationship. The words "once removed" mean that there is a difference of one generation. For example, your mother's first cousin is your first cousin, once removed. This is because your mother's first cousin is one generation younger than your grandparents and you are two generations younger than your grandparents. This one-generation difference equals "once removed." Twice removed means that there is a two-generation difference. You are two generations younger than a first cousin of your grandmother, so you and your grandmother's first cousin are first cousins, twice removed. (To find how closely you are related to a certain someone who might will you a boatload of money, see the accompanying chart.)

Anyway, if Pitt and Jolie become a commonlaw couple or if they tie the knot, then we may have ourselves a Family Feud at the picnic pavilion when reunion time rolls around.

"Barack, can you please pass the potato salad?"
"Hillary, can you please pass a viable healthcare bill for this country?"
OR ...
"Hillary, your Saab has me blocked in, and we're ready to leave."
"Barack, you've blocked every piece of legislation I've tried to pass."
OR ...
"Barack, did you bring the rock salt for the ice cream churn?"
"Hillary, nobody TOLD me to bring the rock salt. I am not a MIND READER."
"So what are we supposed to do with all this cream and ice?"
"I'll tell you what you can do with all this cream and ice. You can take this cream and ice and ..."

Everyone is related in some way or another to a person of moderate fame. I, for example, am allegedly a descendant of Gen. Robert E. Lee. (See photo at right; know that I look a LOT like him.) To hear my mother tell the story, you might believe the lineage was somehow strong enough to qualify me for gold membership in the D.A.R. I'm no history buff, but I never understood why she thought my connection to the Civil War tied into the American Revolution and D.A.R.

Anyway, according to my late Great Uncle Herman (and he was great), who told me this vital piece of information in a very hushed tone, we didn't bloom on the prosperous branch of the Lee family tree. He put his hands together, leaned forward in his chair and quietly said, "Amy, you should know that we descend directly from the branch that lost Stratford Hall in the early 1800s." (Oh, yes, Uncle Herman, this is a MUCH better story for a little girl to drag around throughout her life than, "I'm going to inherit a Virginia plantation, and I will have lots of PONIES.")

Just as with the Lee clan, someone on either the Obama or Clinton side is going to lose SOMEthing (like a democratic primary), alter the family history forEVER and taint the family reunion. "Hey, kids, don't turn around, but that woman in the suit over there once cost our side the presidency," or "Oh, great, HE'S here. I thought you told me they moved out of state! I'm not even hungry anymore."

Go study the chart and your genealogy ... maybe you'll find someone who owns a plantation, ran for president, owes you money ...