jerry lived in a world he didn't understand and couldn't control but he was only dimly aware of this . there were a lot of other humans like jerry in the world he lived in. they were all exactly alike and this frightened them.
each human had only enough time in their life to barely make the acquaintance of a few others. ninety years was a long time for a human to live. ninety years added up to about three billion seconds, a second being approximately the time it took for a human heart to beat to keep the human alive. but at the time of jerry's existence there were between six and seven billion humans alive. this was the number actually alive at a given moment - they were constantly being born and dying.
humans were social creatures who craved the good will and admiration of their fellows. every human wanted more than anything else to be "known" and "admired" by all the other humans on earth.
but the numbers were there. no human could "know" all the other humans, even for one second - there just wasn't enough time. but there might - just might - be ways in which any one human, or a handful of humans, could be "known" to all the others.
it was this insight which governed human behavior. throughout the centuries humans had devised many ways to implement this insight.
when jerry got up the next morning, his grandmother had already gone to work. he sat down on the couch and stared at the blank screen. jerry, who wasn't much of a television watcher and never read except for information, started thinking about his descendants. the night before, they had watched a show on one of the educational channels about genealogy. they always watched what his grandmother wanted - fair enough, it was her apartment. his grandmother talked continually through any show, which didn't bother jerry because he was hardly watching the shows anyway. his grandmother had found the genealogy show interesting and started talking about cousin this and aunt that and grandmother so- and-so and how she would like to look into genealogy if she could ever afford to retire. she was jerry's maternal grandmother - his mother came from a large and extended family, with traceable roots to many countries and continents. jerry had no idea who his father was - none at all. his thoughts as he listened to his grandmother moved in another direction.
every human has direct male and female descendants going back through the centuries. think about it ( jerry thought about it). your father had a father, who had a father, who had a father,etc. somewhere at the time of christ and julius caesar was someone who was your father's father's father's etc. the same with your mother's mothers. maybe they only accounted for one zillionth of your "genetic inheritance" and were as untraceable as a molecule of water in the ocean, but they had existed. they weren't like the lost continent of atlantis, or dinosaurs or shakespeare, which might have existed or not.
jerry decided to go to the library and read up on the subject - the same library where he had researched the ingredients for his special hot dog sauce.
he got up and made a couple of slices of toast. he stated to put peanut butter on them but felt guilty about using up all his grandmother's peanut butter so he put the jar back and ate the toast plain, with a glass of grapefruit juice.
he went out and starting walking to the library, it was a nice sunny day, with a breeze.