This column is to be filed under “things that only happen to me.” Is it because I am a middle child? Possibly. Is it because I have such low self-esteem? Probably. But those options are for just two things I am sharing with you. The other one is a whole different kind of “these things only happen to me…”
So let us begin the journey.
When I was 15 years old, my brother and I were fortunate enough to have parents who wanted to take us to Paris and London. My dad always took his vacations very seriously, and he took this one even more seriously. So many sights, so little time, so many AAA travel books. There was a lot involved, but my dad was going to get it done.
We stayed in the nicest hotels, a couple of sheiks offered my dad some good cattle in exchange for me to be their bride (those dudes really dig the big ladies). We saw Monet’s house in Giverny. It was lovely. One night we were supposed to go see the Eiffel Tower. You go to the top, there is some kind of tour — all so exciting. But I did something not nice to my brother. I have no idea what. All I do know is that it didn’t involve drugs or physical violence, so chances are I probably just was obnoxious to him and chances are even greater that he deserved it. But, wouldn’t you know it, my mom grounded me from going to the Eiffel Tower. So if anyone ever asks you if you know anyone who went to Paris and didn’t see the Eiffel Tower, now you do.
Next story — my friend and I arranged a bus for her Sweet 16 and turns out, we made a little extra money from the arrangement. We decided to take the day off from school, go to the mall, go the movies, and have a great day off. And it was! We saw two movies, we bought matching watches. It was so fun. And then we got back to school and I was surrounded my classmates telling me that my mom came to school to tell me that my haircut appointment was changed. But Banji wasn’t in school. Needless to say, that day didn’t end as well as it started, but we had fun anyway…
And the final story. Now this one has nothing do to with me — not anything I did — just something that happened to me, something that most likely hasn’t happened to many other people. A few weeks ago, I received a Facebook message from someone I had never heard of. She sent me a message saying that she thought that I know some of her relatives. So I quickly respond with a “????” She asks for my number, I give it to her, and here is the story. This woman had just done 23 and Me which is some kind of genealogy testing situation where you can find long-lost relatives. Well, it turns out that this woman’s biological father was my neighbor, who died in the house explosion 10 years ago.
Yes, you are reading correctly. This woman just found out that her biological father (and his girlfriend) gave her up for adoption when she was born. Now she had known that she was adopted, but she only recently found out the circumstances surrounding her adoption. How did she find me? Well, when the house exploded, my name was all over the news, and there was an article, well, several articles, written about what happened. So here this woman was calling me, because I am now the only connection she has to her biological father, who she now will never meet, because he is no longer with us.
I put on my social worker hat and I told her what a wonderful and kind man he was, which he really was. I made sure she knew that the explosion was an accident and not a suicide, because it wasn’t a suicide, and I tried to answer any questions she had about her grandparents and anything else.
How crazy is that story? It was like a real life “Law & Order” episode!! But I am really happy that this did happen to me, because I was able to help her fill in some gaps and then get her in touch with other people who knew her father. So there was that.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck still has not figured out who gave her the two free Billy Joel tickets a few years ago. That is the mystery she would like to solve!!