Nina Gaby

Essays, art, and healthcare

23 and Us: unforeseen difficulties


Our daughter gifted us with 23 and Me, and knowing she will ask us about it next weekend I felt we needed to get those cute little packages back in the mail. How hard could it be? Apps, passwords…I had put it off. Then trying to find a time during pandemic when one of us, hubster and myself, had not eaten anything for 30 minutes. “OK” I said, “it’s 11 AM, I think we can go without food till lunch.” Because those are the pre-spit rules. I had to set us both up as hubster refused to do the on-line part. It wouldn’t accept my password, the numbers on the barcode on the tube were too small to see, and now we had already not eaten anything for 30 minutes.

I read the instructions three times, ‘fill with spit to the line, snap the funnel top closed, remove and screw on little cap.’ Little cap is tooo little for my fingers so I had to work to re-thread it several times but I’m getting ahead of myself. Also one set of instructions says shake for 5 seconds, the other set doesn’t. Anyway, possibly dehydrated now from not eating for 45 minutes, I could not get the spit going. 15 pathetic minutes later I’m squinting at the little line on the tube and considering just adding a few drops of water. Craig, on the other hand, went over the line in just one try and wanted me to fix it, which I refused to do, and handed him paper towels. Finally, with a snap, twist, shake (yes I decided to follow the first set of directions) and slide (into little plastic sleeve provided) we were ready for lunch. Lunch is a big deal in pandemic America for us because this is the first time in 30-odd years of marriage that we have actually eaten lunch-our jobs being such that mostly lunch happens in tiny fragments during meetings or standing in front of the computer or in the car at 6 PM while driving home. Which brings me to the early pandemic days, eating sandwiches together with Cuomo on CNN, feeling safe and well directed and well, you know….  

I packed the sleeved tubes in their adorable boxes. I tried to get the website to take a password for Craig, one that we will immediately forget, and it won’t take it. 23 and Me sends me a welcoming email. No email for Craig (I’m pretending I’m him because he is refusing to deal with any more of it.) I hit tab after tab and finally find him. By this time I have no idea what we have signed on for and wonder if our DNA is going to be used for nefarious purposes and decide at my age what’s the worst that can happen? They’ll take away my Medicare for pre-existing conditions? Who makes it to 71 without pre-existing conditions? Maybe my parents aren’t really my parents? By this time I DON’T CARE and we have lunch and I trot down to the Post Office with my little packages and tell the guy “I think we’re good here. Can I just give them to you?” He hesitates, slow to rise from his chair. I miss Tom, the old guy who took it all very seriously, every day telling us to “Be careful out there,” and I start to lose track as I stumble down Memory Lane which is like every minute, as this guy doesn’t take the boxes and I snap back to the here and now, and he fumbles, and I’m thinking “Oh for fucking fuck’s sake,” and he finally takes them but his little scanner doesn’t work and I’m thinking “Really?” and he doesn’t say anything so I repeat “I think we are good here,” and he mumbles and I say “Are we good here? Or what?” because I do not want to take them home and have to try to find anything resembling help  on the website. “Yeah,” he says. But he doesn’t look convinced. Like he’s dealing with a BIOHAZARD or something.

By this time I just want a snack and a nap, but instead take the dog for a nice long walk as I menu plan for dinner and fret about my poor saliva production.


5 thoughts on “23 and Us: unforeseen difficulties

  1. Love this. Had the same experience with my ancestry……got back some interesting info though.

  2. i love your voice, Nina — so funny and so direct

  3. We are all now breathlessly waiting for Part II.

  4. This sounds just like you talk, Nina that was not on Amazon music. I was right there with you. I had trouble with saliva production too and I think I was 58 when I did mine. I seem to have no problem with it when I’m taking a nap.

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