When I was growing up in New Jersey as part of an Eastern European extended family, I had a great aunt named Alice. She was married to my mother's uncle, and was the live-in landlady of an apartment building. She had dyed red hair, done up in a high "poodle" cut, wore big old-lady 1980s glasses with thick frames, weighed about 90 pounds soaking wet, and chain-smoked into oblivion.
She also had a signature gravely voice, with which she would use to beckon young me to come over and hug her, give her a kiss, etc. I'd refuse; too terrified to approach her. She even whipped out a dollar bill on several occasions as extra incentive. I still said no.
I've been dusting off these memories of Aunt Alice because my cousin, her granddaughter, has been doing some family genealogy, and found out that Aunt Alice is the 7th cousin once removed of the one and only Lucille Ball.
This is especially hilarious because, as you might imagine given my description of my great aunt, her family for years would joke around that she was related to Lucy. And, thanks to the magic of internet sleuthing, they can both be traced back to good ol' Jonathan Knight and his wife Hannah, who were both born in the mid-1600s.
The timing of this revelation couldn't be more impeccable, with my book's release less than two months away. With apologies to Aunt Alice, I like to think that, if given the opportunity, I would have approached Lucille Ball for a hug if she had asked me — whether she paid me or not.