Joe didn’t recognize the number, so he didn’t answer the call. He let it drop into voicemail and forgot about it.
A few days later, he decided to clear his voicemails.
He saw one that was over 2 minutes long. He was curious, so he decided to listen before deleting. He listened. It was a woman explaining how she’d recently taken a DNA test and it turned out that if he was Joseph R. Fox, they were siblings. She said he wasn’t the only one. She said she’d like to speak with him, if he was interested in speaking with her.
Joe deleted the voicemail and forgot about it. He told himself it was probably a scam. A good scam, he surmised. But a scam nonetheless.
A few days later, the number appeared again, so that time he answered it.
The woman on the other end gave her name. She went into the bit about the DNA test.
Joe said, “If this is a scam, you’re wasting your time as I don’t have much money.”
She assured Joe it wasn’t a scam. She asked Joe if he was a donor sperm baby. Joe said he was.
“Well, it turns out our father was quite prolific with his donations,” the woman said.
“Good for him,” Joe replied. “Hopefully he got rich.”
“My DNA test revealed there’s at least 50 of us scattered throughout the world,” she said.
“That’s great,” Joe said. “The old boy really knew how to spread his seed. Do you know if he’s still alive?”
“He’s passed,” she said.
“Did he leave us any money?” Joe asked. “From spreading all that seed?”
“No,” she said. “But I’ve formed a group for us. Are you interested in joining? Would you be interested in getting to know your brothers and sisters?”
“What kind of a group?” Joe asked. “Like a mutual fund? Like I said, I don’t have much money to contribute but, if there’s a fund, I could sure stand to be a beneficiary.”
“It’s more like a support group.”
“Yeah. Like a financial support group?” Joe asked.
“More like emotional support,” she said. “We mostly share our stories online.”
“Then I’m definitely not interested,” Joe said.
“You’re a very private man, I presume. Perhaps the reason you didn’t respond to my first call.”
“No,” Joe said. “It’s not my privacy I’m trying to hold onto. It’s my mental health. I’m already bored enough as it is. I don’t need to be concerned about anybody else’s boring life too.”
“Aren’t you curious about the rest of us? I mean, technically, we’re all brothers and sisters.”
“Have you ever been to prison?” Joe asked. “Or encountered Bigfoot? Or joined a cult? Murdered anyone? Been in a porno film? Been fucked up on dope?”
“No,” she said.
“Then I’m not interested.”
“Cause I’m not so sure you’re all that interesting. I got enough uninteresting people that wanna pilfer my time. I don’t need anymore.”
“This isn’t just about you, Joe. It’s about all of us. You’re not willing to share?”
“You’re right,” Joe said. “So, whatever you’ve all gone through, I’ll share some advice that you can spread around with all the rest of my brothers and sisters. You ready?”
“Get on with your lives.”
“That cold, Joe. Very cold.”
“Nah. It’s the best, most empathetic advice anybody will give you. And I just gave it to you for nothing. It was absolutely free, so don’t go thinking I’m cold hearted.”
“You don’t care we share the same genes and DNA?”
“The same guy jacked off in a bunch of cups. So what? We’ll never know him. And he never left us with anything but these miserable lives. Lives so miserable we got to reach around the globe to people we don’t even know for any sympathy. And why does it matter anyways? We won’t get any closer to him by getting closer to each other.”
“You’re very cynical,” she said. “Most people are quite excited to learn about this.”
“Well, not me,” Joe said. “If it was a million bucks you were calling about, that’s a different story. But this other stuff….no. I mean, I don’t mean you no harm, but I got no reason to wish or offer anything more for you than I do anybody else.”
“Then you won’t offer us anything? Or accept anything from us? If you say ‘no’ I won’t call you again. I won’t bother you again. I understand. Some people don’t want to know. Some people can’t have their conception of their lives turned upside down.”
“Well, I appreciate that,” Joe said. “So I’m gonna say, ‘no’. See, I got a daughter with kids down in Florida that I never see enough. And cousins and friends from high school I never see or speak with either. Seems to me I owe them more of my time than I owe you and your group.”
“Our group,” she said. “Our family.”
“Your group,” Joe corrected. “Your family.”
“And I never said you owed us anything,” his sister said. “It’s just a thing most people want to do. It’s just a thing most people are interested in. Most people are curious to know their roots and how they’ve spread.”
“Again, thanks, but no thanks,” Joe said. “You know, roots aren’t always everything people make them out to be. And I think I got enough roots as it is. I don’t need any more. Goodbye.”
“Wait, Joe. Please. One last thing.”
“What is it?”
“You said you’ve got a daughter and grandchildren. What about them? Shouldn’t they know? Don’t you owe it to them to know?”
Joe said, “If they want to know, they can find out for themselves, just like you did. They don’t need me advising them on what’s important to them. Now, goodbye.”
With that, Joe hung up and never got a call from another of his annoying siblings again.