CURING THE GENEAHOLIC
By H. David Morrow FuzzyGem@worldnet.att.net
(Previously published in MISSING LINKS Vol. 7, No. 50, 16 December 2002) http://www.petuniapress.com/
In my continuing effort to help spouses (or significant others) of geneaholics, I have spent hours at the local library looking up methods to help them get cured. The 10-Step Program, previously published here, was one result of this research.
My library's shelves have some ancient books; like most of the gravestones my wife looks for. Recently, I stumbled on a very old tome entitled "Grandpa Izzy's Quick Cures for Practically Every Malady." (Older books have long titles because they didn't have to worry about marketing them.)
Grandpa Izzy devotes a whole chapter to cures for bad habits. All of the remedies are still used today, but with modern names given by highly educated Ph.D.'s. Many of them, I discovered, can be adapted for use on geneaholics. Each cure is listed with Grandpa Izzy's name first and then the modern name in brackets.
MAKE IT UNPALATABLE [Aversion Therapy] -- Izzy developed this to stop people from drinking: sneak a little Castor Oil into a favorite bottle of drinking alcohol. Start with tiny amounts and work up to a teaspoon a day. After a few weeks, he will figure out that his favorite drink causes him to spend hours in the outhouse. Note this cure works faster in cold winters.
David's adaptation for Geneaholics -- the next time you are asked to go cemetery scouting, do so with enthusiasm. Once you get there, however, you should trip and fall against a 3-4 foot headstone. (The name on the stone doesn't matter; it's the height that counts.) Practice falling enough times so that it looks like an accident that you landed on your outstretched arm and sprained your wrist.
If you are right-handed, make sure you sprain the right wrist. Most understanding orthopedists will be happy to put your damaged limb into a sling for a few weeks. Of course this means your spouse/partner will have to help you do anything that involves your injured appendage.
It also means that you won't even be asked to go to another cemetery until you are completely healed. But, one "accident" will not be enough to cure your geneaholic. Also, you have to plan your mishaps carefully so that you are not prevented from doing what you like to do (sewing, fishing, etc.).
After your third accident, you can avoid all future trips to cemeteries by reminding your partner, "Every time we go to a cemetery, something happens to me. Suppose we BOTH have an accident? Who's gonna drive us home?" This will give the geneaholic enough concern to avoid future trips to view interment locations.
MAKE IT FUN [Game Therapy] -- This is also known as the Las Vegas Cure; bear with me a minute and you'll see why. It is the logical extension of what we learned about how to get children to take out the garbage and clean their rooms.
David's adaptation for Geneaholics: (The differences are because geneaholics are not usually children.) Step one is to ask the geneaholic when and how you can help. This will surprise her or him and that's exactly what this step is supposed to do: get the geneaholic's attention.
Step two is to suggest you make a game of it. For example: suppose your geneaholic is searching census records. You offer to view films and the game is to see who comes up with the relevant information first. The loser buys dinner (or a banana split) after the library closes.
Step three is to increase the stakes. Put some real money up for the winner (this is the Las Vegas part.) If the project is to look through a cemetery, the person who finds the most relevant stones gets, say, $250 from the other person. Make sure you lose the first and second time. This will hook the geneaholic.
Continue to increase the amount depending on the difficulty of the task. If you have to look through films of 100-year-old newspapers for obituaries, that's worth $750. Searches through old courthouse records are worth $1,000.
By now, of course, you're winning every time. This is important because the more your geneaholic has to pay for help, the more used to paying for information she or he becomes. At this point, it's a short step for you to suggest the hiring of a genealogical researcher on the grounds that it's cheaper than paying off bets to you. NOTE: this therapy probably won't cure the geneaholic, but it will get him/her off your back while giving you enough extra money to take a trip somewhere (Las Vegas or Disneyland, perhaps?).
SUBSTITUTION [Different Habit Therapy] -- This one is pretty much self-explanatory. One bad habit is replaced with another. Examples: chewing bubble gum replaces smoking; thumb-sucking to replace drinking; etc.
David's adaptation for Geneaholics: If the geneaholic is a man, sign him up for cabinet-making classes. For female geneaholics, try clay sculpture or quilt-making. The real art to this therapy is to choose a new habit that will tax both the mental and physical faculties of the patient. The finished product should be something the geneaholic can boast about while boosting his/her self-esteem.
Do NOT choose cooking for women or plumbing for men. Women simply won't get the same high out of making Beef Wellington as they do from discovering that their g-g-g-grandfather was once arrested for beating the sheriff at poker on a Sunday during church services. Most men won't brag about installing a toilet as much as finding out a distant cousin was discharged during the Civil War for shooting off a toe while loading his rifle.
Try each therapy; the order doesn't matter. Then, suggest that all the papers piled on the floor can safely be put into storage boxes which are on sale this week at the office supply store. When the geneaholic agrees, you will know the therapy has been successful. Recent double-blind studies have proven that one of these treatments will work, although you may have to use all three before the habit is kicked.