Great-grandfather Brewster

When Elder William Brewster herded his flock into the bowels of the Mayflower to come to America, he was a man of vision. Nowhere was his vision more in evidence than when he looked into the possibility of a world filled with Brewsters and concluded there was no reason to rush into things.

My ancestors have been deliberate to the point of sludginess when it comes to passing on the family genes. Only ten generations separate me from the Mayflower. Brewsters have been parceled out on an average of once every forty or fifty years, or only as often as necessary. Decades go by, and then someone finally points out that there should be someone to hand down the pewter tea set to; and if that didn’t sway, the suggestion is made that without a renewal of Brewster blood, the world will edge into a soul-corrupting sunniness. “All right,” the elder says. “Just this once.”

Grandfather Brewster

They approached child production with the same gusto with which I respond to the frequent pleading emails from the Democratic Party. I know I must deliver; I give them what I have to and not a dime more, and there’s no joy in it.

My forepilgrims were a dour, gloomy and sober bunch, much afflicted with piety. The entire prospect of renewing the family line filled them with humiliation and distaste. One imagines that the Elder William Brewster would have been relieved to hand the job over to a solitary sperm with a winch and a work ethic. As it is, he and his progeny through the years managed to eke out a knob on the skinny family tree two or three times a century. One doesn’t sense enthusiasm.

He himself got the whole ball rolling with a starter set of five children of his own, each one representing a single horrifying episode of fleeting desire. Only because he sacrificed his body to produce the five originals do we have Brewsters to this day. Fewer lines and the venture would surely have fizzled out. He named his children Patience, Love, Jonathan, Fear, and Wrestling. I am, of course, a child of Love.

Father Brewster, clearly thrilled

“Wrestling” was, according to my father, short for “Wrestling With God,” a losing proposition if I ever heard one. Talk about setting a kid up for failure. I’d like to think that if I had had children, I would have chosen less daunting monikers.

It’s a reproductive rate barely adequate to maintain a line in the phone book up till now, and then I slammed the lid on the whole undertaking. It’s a shame, too. I would have enjoyed meeting my children, Sloth, Elasticity, Flatulence, Torpor, and Twiddling. Twiddling would have been such a well-adjusted child.