Anne's family apparently has a more widespread (and more nefarious) reputation than I realized.
I should probably explain.
My birth-mother and her relations, for all their current squalor, come from an extravagantly aristocratic background and until a fairly short time ago, historically speaking, were major players on the international stage.
Because I was raised apart from Anne, this is a heritage that I've only discovered recently, and my feelings toward it are somewhat conflicted.
To make a long story short, Anne's line is the product of two major royal houses, several prominent noble dynasties, and a smorgasbord of the upper echelon of American society.
Beyond scholars of obscure naval and colonial history, I've encountered few Americans who have appreciated the import of my mother's family or even recognized her surname. Evidently, however, we had a rather more pronounced impact on the other side of the Atlantic.
I came to this realization by way of Major University's dining hall manager, who is an immigrant from Ireland.
Yesterday while standing in line to enter the cafeteria, I heard the girl in front of me discussing a certain Irish city with him.
"Oh, yes, I've been there!" Irish Man exclaimed with gusto. "It's a beautiful place. A beautiful place indeed!"
He was still chuckling when I got to him, and so I thought I'd bring up my own connection to Ireland.
"Hey," I began. "Do you know where Anne's Ancestral Seat is?"
His face clouded.
"Well, of course I do," he said. "Yes, I know it."
"That's my family's, uh...place."
Calling the castle fortress and surrounding region our "place" seemed the most polite way of putting it; Anne's family were actually English aristocrats with no Irish blood at all, and their relationship with the Emerald Isle was fraught.
Towards the end of the 17th Century a branch of the dynasty just hopped across the Irish Sea, carved out a piece of Ireland, declared their ownership over it, and stayed there for a few hundred years.
We were like house guests. With guns.
It was only after I'd said the town's name that the inadvisability of so identifying myself to a native Irishman occurred to me.
"Oh," he said. "You're one of them."
He called out to the other students in line.
"We have one of Them right here!"
The students smiled uncertainly, none of them having recognized the name.
"Well," he said to me. "You must be a very wealthy young man. A multi-millionaire."
"No," I answered. "No, no, no."
What's especially funny about this is that Anne and most of the people related to her are now in advanced states of destitution. People tend to remember history, though.
"Are you kidding?" he asked. "You people owned half of Ireland!"
I felt a vague sense of guilt.
For all the good that Anne's family has undeniably done, they've also had a series of rather unpleasant incidents that has included leading entire nations to war (more than once, though mostly in Europe), establishing monolithic and exploitative corporate entities (mostly in this country), helping to perpetuate the institution of slavery (also mostly in this country), and, on one truly regrettable occasion in Jamaica, committing a crime against humanity.
In perspective, our comparatively brief conquest of just one part of Ireland wasn't that bad. But still.
"I don't think it was quite half," I mumbled awkwardly.
Irish Man smiled at me. He'd only been teasing.
"Enjoy your meal," he said with a laugh.
I took my ticket, waited until Laquesha had passed through the line, and then went to find a table.