We Who Owe Everything to a Name

When I was ten years old, my mother told me that my father was not really my father. My “real father” was a man named Aladdin, a foreign student at UC Berkeley where she had been a student. When his father found out that he had gotten an American girl pregnant, he whisked Aladdin back home.

I found this interesting. I tucked it into a mental drawer labeled “intriguing data” and went out to play. It did explain some things. Like why I was olive skinned with jet-brown eyes and dark hair when my little sister was blond and blue eyed. But it was not in the drawer labeled “disturbing facts.” All the unpleasant things about growing up in my family were related to my mother.

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