On Ancestral Idols

Humans have this drive to understand where we came from. Often, we want to feel a connection to someone important too. Maybe that’s why, in high school, I became enamored with the doomed Boleyn queen, whose name only varied from mine by a scattering of letters.

Poor Anne. I didn’t believe the slander, that she had six fingers, that she bewitched the king, and engaged in deviant horrors. No, Anne was a girl, like me, swept up in the tidings and ambition of her family, and the horrifyingly precise attention of a predator-king.

I found a replica of her B necklace that she wore proudly, even as the burden of her family expectations were more like an albatross. The chain of pearls supported the golden B, dripping three teardrop pearls underneath. It was loud.

Dressed up as my idol, Anne Boleyn, for Halloween

Dressed up as my idol, Anne Boleyn, for Halloween

Now, I know that my clan, the mighty Bolands, are more likely to have been descended from some bloodthirsty vikings plunging onto the Irish shore. Apparently Beollain was a n irish approximation of a viking name, at least before the Irish probably screamed and ran for safety.

Viking pride. If only Anne Boleyn had had some throw axes in her arsenal. Henry needed to be put in his place. Still, it’s not terrible to wish for some kinship with her. She did mother England’s most famous monarch, Queen Elizabeth. And Anne was educated and outspoken, surprisingly so for a woman of her time. She was a devout Protestant, challenging the Catholic Church and the Pope for more than their refusal to grant old Henry a divorce.

I wore the necklace and tried to be as brave as Anne. Navigating high school was as tricky as the machinations of the Tudor court. I don’t believe she could have escaped her situation. One did not rebuff the king. What Henry wanted, Henry got. Anne made the best of her situation, refusing to be a mere concubine. She couldn’t help that later, both biology and Henry’s lecherous impatience doomed her.

This past halloween, I paid Anne homage again, digging out the old necklace. Only the nerdiest of nerds knew who I was, but I was giving my girl Anne some props, five hundred years later.

So I’m not likely descended from the Boleyns. Probably for the best, as the Black and Tan army burned down my great-gran’s house, and that’d be awkward to describe at the ancestral family reunions.

Oh well. Guess my people are actually more Xena, warrior princess. Her bestie’s name was Gabrielle. (My parents later followed up this naming convention by naming by brother after another bad-ass, Sarah Connor). Maybe I’ll find Anne and give her some lessons. Who says she can’t beat up Henry in the afterlife?

Love always,


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