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I got a much-forwarded e-mail about funny things that were found on forms and it’s all absolutely true, only the names were changed. You know, like the one that lists “actual” excuse notes for school absences or things people have said to the cop who pulls them over for speeding. Right. This one was things that were on the “Who’s the kid’s father” section of Child Support Agency forms. I didn’t bother Snopes about this one because this stuff is never true. The following story, though, is true. Rather, it was told to me; whether it happened this way, I don’t know.

I worked with a young woman who came from a less-than upstanding family. She had numerous brothers and sisters and most of them had never met their fathers. She said her mother would put the phone bill in one of the kids’ names and then, when she didn’t pay it, she was off the hook because minors can’t legally enter into a contract, which is what your phone service is. Since she had a number of kids (and was rapidly gathering a collection of grandchildren via her teen-aged children, including my coworker), she got a lot of mileage out of that strategy. Don’t know if the phone-bill story is true, but it suggests that she came from a home that didn’t trouble itself with adherence to certain moral tenets.

Her oldest sister not only had never met her father, but didn’t know who he was. She’d nagged her mother over the years, and Mom always had some excuse for why she wouldn’t tell her: she didn’t need to know, he was long gone, he was a one-night stand. Finally, after her sister had been particularly insistent about knowing her parantage, her mom yelled, “How would I know? It was dark at the time!”