Kage Baker held, as one of her core beliefs, that truth is not only stranger than fiction – it is a lot more interesting.
She herself was honest to the proverbial fault; i.e., she told the truth even if it offended someone. She was a poor liar, and didn’t like to do it; as an alternative strategy, she would simply avoid topics that might prove offensive. That meant there were things she refused to discuss, which might also give offense: but that was on the person who persisted in getting a response out of her that she did not want to give. That eased her conscience.
And if a lie actually did have to be told, there was always me to tell it for her. I lie well -I think it may be my most complete inheritance from my father. My own contribution to this dubious skill is that I do know the difference between a lie and a truth, something my dear old Da did not possess. In my opinion, this is a not-uncommon aspect of Celtic genes … and please be assured, Dear Readers, I intend no offense to anyone in this statement. I am entitled to say it. Especially today, on my birthday.
Like most Americans, I am a veritable miscellany of heritages; however, most of my roots are only recently arrived on the shores of Amerikee (as the sailor songs call it). Also, most of them are Celtic. Genetic analysis is far from an accurate tool yet, and is prone to considerable confirmation bias. But it tells me that most of my genes come from the edges of the British Isles, via Northern Europe. That agrees with both current family locations (I have relatives all over the pertinent areas of the UK) and family stories: I carry genetic material from Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Brittany; a bit of Scandinavian-via-Ireland (Dublin was a Viking town, you know) and a soupcon of Native American.
The ones that most amused Kage were my Britishized spelling, and my insane fondness for cheese. Both were developed in my childhood, and thus cannot be eradicated. Kage theorized that they arose from genetic changes experienced by various of my ancestors, who toiled deep underground (where they were probably exposed to radioactive substances) and who had been forced to learn English – at which they became expert, but never mastered the spelling …
The two oldest conjoined bits of my “received” background come from Brittany and Native Americans. Family legend on my mother’s side (it’s at least 6 generations old and thus bordering on mythos) has it that a Breton man married an Iroquois woman. Supporting the family story, there is a wee bit of my genetic material indicating an old link with Siberian population groups: that might be the legacy of Great-to-the nth- Grandma Rose. Or it might be Denisovans. Who knows? This business gets more complicated all the time.
And on the subject of truth being stranger than anything we can make up – Kage, the sister of my heart, came from a similar background: lots of Celts and East Coast Native Americans. It made her tall and red-haired and gave her the talents of a bard. It made me short and dark and perilously glib. But somewhere way back, a lot of our ancestors were running around the same places at the same times, cooking up our weird heritages.
Somehow, we ended up both on the West Coast; in Los Angeles; in Hollywood; in a tiny, peculiar girls’ school on the literal edge of Griffith Park. And we told one another stories in the long, long afternoons of our shared childhood.
But just now, Kimberly has presented me with a lovely little slice of cake – surprise! It has pretty pink curls on the white frosting – my dear sister Kimberly says they are frosting, while I think they might be ham … gotta go find out which, Dear Readers. How wonderful that even at this advanced age I can still find strange truths to explore!
Stories will return tomorrow.