Professor Sludge explains genealogy

Opinion

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Chris Stach

I am sitting here next to Professor Jonathan E. Sludge, who has just informed me that he is the leading expert in all the world on the subject of genealogy.

"That is correct, Mr. Stach. I am."

Very good. Professor, as you know, many residents of Brookfield, Riverside and North Riverside are very interested in genealogy. Can you please tell me, what was it that first inspired you to learn all you could about this subject?

"Well Mr. Stach, I remember it as if it were only yesterday. I was a 10-year-old boy, and I was reading the book, "1,001 Arabian Nights." It was so inspiring."

I'm afraid I don't follow you.

"Well you better not, or I'll have you arrested."

No, professor, I mean, I don't understand what that book has to do with genealogy.

"No? Why its chock full of genealogy!"

Hmmm. Are you absolutely sure?

"Absolutely, positively, most certainly, without a doubt. I've been studying that book for years, and someday I hope to get my three wishes."

Huh? Did, uh, did you say 'three wishes?'

"Yes, of course. Just like in the Disney movie."

Disney did a movie about genealogy?

"Didn't I just say so? You see, this boy Aladdin was in it, and he found this lamp?""

Pr-professor, maybe what I'm thinking isn't true. I hope it isn't, anyway. But could you define the word 'genealogy' for me?

"Most certainly, my dear sir. Genealogy is the study of genies."

Genies. You, you mean the magical kind?

"But most naturally. What other kind is there?"

Yes. Well. I think you should know that that's not what genealogy really is. You see, sir, when I said I wanted to ask you about genealogy, I meant the study of people's ancestors, and of their families and family trees. That kind of thing.

"Oh. That."

Yes, that. Do you know anything about that? At all?

"Uh, umm, let's see. I could tell you about my family tree, I suppose."

Great. Tell me.

"Our family tree is an elm, a nice big elm, but it's got a touch of the blight right now, and we're?""

Excuse me, professor, but a family tree isn't a real tree. It's a ... a kind of spreading graph where all your ancestors are laid out.

"All my ancestors are laid out in the Woodlawn Cemetery."

I meant, all their names are written down on paper, so you know who's related to who.

"Whom. Well, let's make this easy. I am number 5 of the 26 boy children my mother had, and?""

Your mother had 26 children? How'd she do that?

"Well, it didn't happen all at once! She sort of spread them all out over time. In the beginning, my father, the original Jonathan Sludge, was very forgetful. Why, it was lucky that he could remember his own name! So he and Ma decided to name all of us Jonathan Sludge, too, to avoid confusion."

How in the world could that work?

"Why, it was really quite simple. My oldest brother's middle name is Andrew, and the next oldest's middle name is Bartholomew, and after that, Clive, and then Darius, and me, I'm Edgar. When she wanted to call us for supper, she'd open the back door and yell 'A, B, C, D, E! Come on home!' After a while, she'd had twins, triplets and quartets, and pretty soon we had a whole alphabet. Then she'd yell 'A to Z! Supper!' and we'd finish eating our family-size pizzas at Barone's, zoom on home, and announce our letter once we entered the house for supper. Very simple, see?"

Y-yes, I guess it sounds like it. But are you saying your mother never had any children but boys?

"Oh, sure there were some girls. All 26 of them are named after our mother, Marcia. To avoid confusion."

Yes, yes, you said that. But do you mean to tell me that there are 52 children in your family?

"Like a deck of cards, yes. So far. Ma's still young, with a good many good years still ahead of her. And when ma calls the girls to dinner, she yells 'Girls A to Z! Come on home to supper!'"

Yes. Well. Tell me, what do you all do? For work, I mean? My gosh, what am I saying? We could be here for hours!

"What? Didn't catch that last part. Anyway, all 26 of us boy children turned out to be professors."

All professors? What about the 26 girls?

"They are professoresses. They're all very interesting, you know. Marcia Barbie Sludge is working for Mattel, inventing hover skateboards. Little Marcia Wanda Sludge is professor of the Crocker Institute for Finding Fairies, and is currently mounting an expedition to capture one. Professor Marcia Marcia Sludge has just completed her ground-breaking thesis paper on 'Nucleonic Pragmatosis, and Its Attendant Malagaleeptic Effect on Mud.'"

Well, professor, that sounds like quite a family you have, but to tell the truth, I think you've just been wasting my time here. You told me you were an expert on genealogy, but I don't think you really are. Good-bye.

"Wait! Does that mean you're not going to give me my three wishes?"

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