I feel completely inadequate in my relationships whenever I’m faced with one of those online security forms asking me to answer a “secret question” to set up an online account. Their predefined set of questions mock me at every turn.
- Where did you and your spouse meet? (I’m not married.)
- Where was your first date with your spouse? (I told you, I don’t have one of those spouse things.)
- Where did you and your spouse go on your honeymoon? (Could we move on to another topic now?)
- Where was your spouse born? (So do you want me to make up a spouse? Will that satisfy you? What will it take to move on?)
And then they move on to other relationships that I don’t have.
What is your oldest sibling’s middle name? (I don’t have siblings either. Can I offer you a cousin?)
- What is your oldest child’s middle name? (How many ways can you call me a failure? No, I don’t have children.)
- What is your youngest child’s favorite toy? (Stop. Now.)
At the end of the interrogation by my blank-faced computer screen, I feel completely inadequate because clearly, the online world sees me as a relationship loser. But the reality is that I have a huge network of extended family and friends. In fact, it’s often hard for me to keep up with and spend time with many of my good friends (just ask them).
Dear online security people, I apologize for not fitting into your idea of what’s normal. But I wish you’d get over it and use some imagination to come up with questions that are meaningful for the many, many relationships and interests I have rather than those I don’t have. Here are some ideas.
- Which of your uncles are you closest to? (Clarence)
- What is the name of your oldest cousin? (DeLyle on my dad’s side, Kay on my mom’s side)
- Where was your father’s father’s father born? (Freudental, Odessa oblast, Ukraine)
- What was the first country you visited outside of North America? (Denmark)
- Where is the most unusual place you’ve spent the 4th of July? (Probably the Greek island of Hydra, with sparklers in our watermelons)
Okay, I know these don’t apply to everyone. But clearly, neither do the spouse/children/sibling questions so why not diversify a little? Just to help a traveling genealogist maintain a little self-esteem?