Spitting Images

Whenever I find myself growing restless; whenever it is a damp, drizzly February in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily tapping on the Ancestry app on my phone or searching for memorials on Find A Grave; and especially whenever my genes get so hyper that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent them from dancing off to the American Bandstand of my imaginings–then, I account it high time to take another DNA test. I had already tested with Family Tree DNA and AncestryDNA, but, when I learned that 23andMe was offering a Valentine’s Day discount, I couldn’t resist. I ordered the test and waited for my kit to arrive.

The saliva collection kit arrived promptly, with everything I needed and complete instructions. First step: No food or drink for at least thirty minutes before the test, and no chewing gum, either. That part should be easy, I thought, expecially since I’m not a gum chewer. Second step: Spit into the funnel until the saliva (not including bubbles) reaches the fill line. Both Ancestry DNA and 23andMe use the spit-into-a-tube method of collecting DNA. Family Tree DNA provides swabs for scraping the inside of the cheek. Both methods work, although spitting is, I think, easier than scraping; I was able to fill the tube in less than five minutes, so apparently I’m good at it. Steps three and four involve releasing the preservative sealed inside the funnel lid, unscrewing the funnel, and closing the tube securely with the small cap provided.  Next, the tube goes into a plastic bag, the bag is sealed, and the whole shebang goes back into its original box, which already has a mailing label on it.

Why take the same type of DNA test three times with three different companies? Each of the three major testing companies has a large database of results, with some overlap because of people like me, and testing with all of them provides more opportunities to find DNA cousins, compare research, discover a most recent common ancestor (MRCA), and add another branch to the family tree.

I put my box of “exempt human specimen” in the mail a few days ago, and 23andMe tells me it has reached their lab. Now all I have to do is wait.

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