My paternal cousin Bradford -- son of Mahonri and Marthalene, has been into conspiracy theories for as long as I can remember. He's maybe six years or so older than I am . The truth of the matter is that I have so freaking many cousins on that side of the family -- sixty-one first cousins on my dad's side alone, and that doesn't even count my brother and me because, obviously, we're not cousins to one another, that it's tough enough to keep track of the cousins' names, much less their ages.
Furthermore, I don't think the verdict is entirely in on that number. Cristelle, the youngest child of my grandparents, and mother of the famous Blitzen Manx and Antarctica Meringue (otherwise known by the nicknames my dad has given them, which are Mutt and Kitty Carry-all), says that she's finished and has even sealed the deal surgically. As far as the other aunts are concerned, though, several are still presumably fertile. They belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose unofficial stance on the matter is "keep poppin' ;em out until your ovaries have shriveled to the size of raisins and no eggs could be forced out of them if they were squeezed simultaneously with Irwin VISE-GRIP pliers by resurrected versions of Brigham Young's henchmen."
Chances are that even as I am typing , at least one of my paternal aunts is in some stage of gestation, unbeknownst to me. In my dad's family, miscarriages are common enough (can you imagine the size the extended family would be if all those babies who didn't make it to viability had survived?) that it's become traditional to withhold announcement of one's pregnancy for at least six weeks or so after the dipstick has come back with two little parallel lines or whatever the indicator positive for pregnancy is present on a particular brand of home pregnancy test.
This is actually one of the few traditions in my dad's family that makes at least a modicum of sense. News of pregnancy typically travels much faster and further than does the word concerning termination of a previously announced pregnancy. It's most upsetting to the former mother-to-be, in addition to awkward for anyone else present, to be asked about a pregnancy that didn't make it much past the middle of the second trimester. If the pregnancy had advanced much further along, it's usually obviously enough to everyone that what was previously a pregnancy is no more. No one I know either personally or through the media who has borne as many children as my aunts have, makes it into her 20th week without being visibly with child, with the possible, and quite far-removed as time goes, exception of Ethel Kennedy, whose petite body managed to conceal pregnancies for a remarkable interval considering her size and the number of children she had birthed.
Speaking of Ethel Kennedy, she offers a segue back to the topic from which I have so egregiously digressed. The Kennedy family is involved in this most recent conspiracy theory of Bradford's. That Bradford would come up with a new conspiracy about the Kennedys or about anything else is far from surprising. He has conspiracy theories about everything from the space shuttle disasters (inside sabotage jobs according to Bradford), to 9-1-1, also an inside job as evidenced by then-President George W. Bush not reacting and being more interested in finding out how Make Way for Ducklings than in the crashing of airplanes into the world trade Center. He also believes that there is a large conspiracy concerning Walmart not being allowed into in certain cities. He refuses to consider that some cities have standards and refuse to allow in a large corporation that, becqus of the sheer volume in which it deals and to the shamefully low wages and benefits it pays its employees, is able to underprice its competitors, thus forcing the competition out of business in many places.
He obsesses on the Lost Tribes of Israel. According to Bradford, they're not hiding inside the center of the Earth via a hole in the North Pole, as some of the lDS church's more eccentric adherents believe. I'm inclined to agree with Bradford on this one tiny sliver of a point. His solution to the quandary, however, is no more plausible than is the "journey to the Center of the Earth" theory.he more extreme Mormons believe. Instead of the more commonly held yet still quite bizarre theory of the Lost Tribes hiding out in the center of the Earth, perhaps clothed in heat-resistant suits to protect them from the extremely high temperatures of the Earth's core (or then again, maybe the magic underwear alone does the trick), they are hiding in plain sight, in only slightly out-off-the-way locations, such as the Basque regions of Spain and France, parts of Appalachia (the particular inhabitants are known as Melungeons by others, but Bradford knows that "Melungeon" is just a code name for one of the Lost Tribes), Prince Edward Island, the Azores, wherever the Gypsies reside (Gypsies are members of the Lost Tribes of Israel), the Lapland region of Scandinavia, and Antarctica (unknown to the rest of the world, there ARE humans indigenous to Antarctica, and they, too, are of the Lost Tribes of Israel).
There are other locations of the Lost Tribes I have neglected to mention, primarily because I've neglected to memorize them all. Bradford purchased beach ball at The Dollar Tree that is essentially an inflatable globe. Whenever inspired, he prays over his geographically decorated beach ball, then points with his eyes closed. Wherever his middle finger lands (both he and his father possess the idiosyncracy of using their middle fingers for pointing, thus giving the impression that they are flipping off whatever or whomever at which they're pointing) is where the Lost Tribes are. We're not quite sure how he found the Gypsies using this method, as Gypsies are spread far and wide in a geographical sense, but no one asks Bradford about this because no one wants to hear his convuluted answer.
The preceding are merely illustrations of the weirdness that surrounds Bradford's conspiracy theories. The totality of his theories would comprise an encyclopedic volume. You're not any more interested in reading about all of them than I am about writing of them. Still, the most recent obsession is interesting enough that I will share it with you.
Bradford believes that there were and are no such people as the Kennedys. I suppose if there's someone who lives across the street from you who owns and operates a sanitaion company or some similar business who happens to have the surname of Kennedy, that person and his or her family might be real, but the Kennedy family who contributed a president and two U.S. senators to our nation is nothing more than a myth. They were all Hollywood actors hired for their toothy facial resemblance and taught the Boston accent by a team of speech pathologists. They were never married to their supposed spouses. The offspring are also Hollywood actors hired for their prominent teeth that even years of expensive orthodontia could not quite overcome.
JFK himself wasn't even a Hollywood actor. He was a mannequin -- a rather high-tech mannequin for his time, but a mannequin nonetheless. Voice actor Von Meader provided the voice-overs for JFK's speeches and press conferences.
The nation was actually being run by K. LeMoyne Billings, a former "Kennedy" confidante and "JFK" aide, according to Bradford. Before K. LeMoyne Billings came into the picture, the myth of the Kenndys didn't actually exist. Joe, Rose, Honey Fitz, and the rest were invented retroactively and history was rewritten. (The Mormons aren't the first, according to bradford, to rewrite history.)
There was no conspiracy surrounding for JFK's supposed
assassination, according to Bradford. Oswald really wanted "the mannequin otherwise known as JFK" (of course Oswald didn't know he was a mannequin) gone for whatever reason, and acted alone. The only conspiracy in the whole operation, according to Bradford, was making it look like a legitimate assassination when it was a mannequin and not a human body that was shot. It took major Yankee ingenuity to come up with fake blood on the fly, Bradford explained.
JFK. Jr., despite being a mere Hollywood actor (for some reason they chose to hire an actor that more closely resembled the fake spouse than the fake Kennedy, which ended up working to the conspiracy's and to JFK Jr. himself's detriment), was gaining too much momentum, according to Bradford. He had political aspirations of his own, according to Bradford, and possibly just enough looks and charisma to succeed politically. The system wouldn't work if a fake Kennedy with a brain found himself in an actual position of power. That's why his small plane was surrounded by other planes producing fog and jamming the communicative abilities of his instruments that might have allowed him to successfully land his plane in the fog.
Maria Shriver was never coinsidered enough of a threat that she faced any danger by way of conspiracies to stop her. The powers that be trusted both her and her Austrian-born husband to screw things up for themselves without the necessity of any help from the insiders actually running things. The same is true of the male faux offspring of Robert and Ethel Kennedy.
Bradford believes Karl Rove may now be controlling the
Kennedys, now a much less significant task, though he's not certain who held the reins between the days of K. Lemoyne Billings and Karl Rove.
My mother believes Bradford is a full-blown schizophrenic. My dad thinks he's chip off the old block known as Mahonri except that he's less dangerous. He may be spouting compete madness, but he's at least not stealing toilet paper, toothpaste, and condiments from the home of every relative whose home he's allowed to enter. My parents have agreed to disagree on this one as long as we all keep our distance from Bradford. We didn't tell anyone in that branch of the family our address when we last moved, although Mahonri mysteriously found us anyway. My mom sent out "we've moved" cards with a new fake address on them, and she hung a sign on our front door that says "The Pretaskys." (She found the sign at a yard sale, and the name seemed too obscure for someone to invent.)
I don't really think Bradford is homicidal, but I'd hate to have him find me purely from the nuisance standpoint. I'm glad none of the Utah branch of the family knows about our condo. my medical school is a large place. Bradford or any of his almost equally loony siblings would have a hell of a time trying to track me down even of they showed up at the right university, which is a good thing, as I don't want to deal with messy matters such as restraining orders.