I recently discovered that at least one of the traits I previously took to be a personal deficiency is in fact genetically acquired. Which means it’s totally not my fault.
I am fairly afraid of heights. I’ve seen people worse, but I do not care to peer out over the edge of anything. I’m so averse that I topped out just shy of 5’4 (“Good enough,” that’s my motto). I’m good with hopping down from a small box. This all strikes me as a prudent way of conducting myself but if I’m in the company of less fearful people—oh, say, a large man trying to reach out and grab my hand to pull me along a knife-edge cliff to see something cool on the other side, a man who I may in fact be married to—I get a little screamy and ashamed at the same time. After all, many people have great adventures because of their lack of fear or embrace of adrenaline. They’re very proud of themselves.
I hate adrenaline.
Deep down I suspected those people never had to overcome fear but are fundamentally different from me. And according to the DNA website 23andme, this is true. My genome suggests I am more likely to be afraid of heights than the average person.
23andme periodically sends me emails designed to pique my interest, such as “Your hair thickness report is waiting for you.” Well, I’d drop anything for that.
I am also unlikely to have a photic sneeze reflex. I’d heard people sometimes sneeze in bright light, and sometimes when I wanted to sneeze but couldn’t pull the trigger, I used to look at the sun, and it never worked. Turns out my chromosomes are seeing to it that it won’t work. Also, if I did need to look at the sun in order to sneeze, I’d have to wait until late June, so there’s that.
I’m more likely to have photobleached hair. Well, I do. I thought everybody did. When my hair was very long—long enough to interfere with the toilet—it looked the way a roadcut looks to geologists. There were layers of history in there. It was a good three shades lighter at the bottom, the parts underneath at the back of my neck were three shades darker, and the gray stopped twelve inches down. If I swung my braid over the top of my head I looked like a blond skunk.
I’m genetically more drawn to salty/savory flavors over sweet. True. I can take or leave chocolate but all sizes of potato chip bags are a single serving. I do love maple sugar, but I don’t indulge that much because it petrifies below the 48th parallel. The planet’s, and mine.
I’m less likely to have stretch marks. Fair enough. However my genetic makeup was no match for the early version of birth control pills. The first few years, birth control pills were not fucking around with the hormones. They were not about to take a chance with lower doses, but were certain to prevent pregnancy by turning the user into a raging, bloated woman with the temperament of an irritated badger and gigantic painful hooters that no one was allowed to touch. After a year or two of that I decided I’d rather have hardware jammed in and my body returned to its previous settings, but with stretch marks. The alternative would have involved some kind of detonation.
I am less likely to have a fear of public speaking. True. I’m not the best but I don’t liquefy on the podium. Things don’t drip off me. I still have a bit of hesitation but that’s no doubt due to my Neanderthal heritage. They had it bad. They were all Friends Romans Countrymen Lend Me Your GAAAKKK. You don’t want to pipe up like that in pouncing cave-woof country. So they kept it zipped for the most part, and something else must have sliced them out of the gene pool. My money’s on imperialism. In any case my Neanderthal heritage is minimal. I don’t even have eyebrows.
I’ve always hoped I was strongly neanderthal. Just plain European white is so boring.
I’m almost four percent! Just not in the eyebrows.
I don’t think I’ve heard about 23 and me. How can they gauge what your DNA is? Do you have to send samples to them, or give them private information? I’d be afraid that the info is used for some nefarious purpose.
As to The Pill. I took it when I was 18, and it was the full strength one. The only side effects seemed to be crying over every little damned thing, but hell… I was a teenager, so that probably was just normal. When my boyfriend and I broke up a couple years later, i went off of it. Again, no major side effects from going off it. Then. A few years later, I met someone that i thought was special. I went on the pill again, but this time they gave me the “new and improved” low dose kind. After that guy and i broke up, I went off it, and all hell broke loose. i got cystic acne. My hair started falling out. Depression. I decided after that to just use barrier methods (condoms, the sponge, diaphragm — not all at once!) After all, I reasoned, if something fails, I always have abortion as a backup. In my entire life (before menopause) I used some form of contraception without fail. My greatest fear was getting pregnant, or, more specifically, giving birth. That made me a non-starter where a lot of guys were concerned. They wanted little carbon copies of themselves.
I wouldn’t think it would disqualify you with a lot of men. I also liked to use the barrier types, although at least once it ended up on the bathtub rather than in the correct position. Um.
PS you send them spit. I am sure many people are too private for that but I don’t see a downside. It’s pretty interesting. They’re getting up quite the database. 23andme is one, Ancestry.com is another.
Hmmm… perhaps I’ll check it out. I AM curious. And a heavy salivater. Plus I live in an area where post-nasal drip is SO prevalent, they refer to it as “The Delaware Drip.” I could send one hell of a sample, boy howdy! Mainly, I’m curious as to whether i have any Neanderthal in me. Both sets of my grandparents came over from Poland, so Nobody on the Mayflower in my line. Just Ellis Island.
“You send them spit” sounds like advice to someone who just heard from a scammer asking for personal information. Of course “spit” would be italicized.
Oh, I would give them a helluva loogie! “Delaware Drip”, after all!
My oldest did the 23 thing, so I’m assuming whatever she shows is probably what I’ve contributed. All northern european, as kind of figures with our name and ancestry. It never seemed relevant to me, I mean the ‘where did you come from’ thing…my ancestors either left Ireland or got kicked out, then left Kentucky or got kicked out in the 1830’s, made their rambling way to Oregon…my G-G-Grandfather co-founded Eugene, he was the high point of our importance…most of what I heard as a kid indicated to me achievement wasn’t a high priority for us, as a clan. Actually, I was the first to get a university degree, which shocked the family, but then grad school sent them into perplexity. “You every going to work, boy?” was something I heard in my late 20’s a lot, from my uncles.
I guess it’s something to occupy us, and that’s fine.
Nice post, Murr.
It’s fun. Plus you’re (voluntarily) adding to the store of knowledge. And you never know. I had something near a 1% Moroccan dab, which I attribute to my Viking forebears having conquered it in the ninth century.
I just don’t understand how they can pinpoint it with THAT much detail from a bit of spit. And you had Viking and Moroccan in you? Tell me… how do you feel about horned helmets? Couscous? Eggplant salad (otherwise known as zaalouk)?
I am 4% in favor of eggplant salad.
I have always avoided consumer genotyping outfits, as I expect that in this country in which everything is for sale, everything runs on bribery and blaming the victim is just business, eventually my genome data would make its way to a health insurance company that has decided to deny claims for conditions they just learned that they can blame on genetics, and of course the legislators they bribe (did I say bribe? I meant lobby) have said sure, do it. I’m curious, but not that curious. I know I’m Ashkenazi from places at one time or another called Poland and Ukraine, and I’ll settle for knowing that.
Quite a sensible objection, but that’s no fun.
Your ancestors came from that region? Mine, too! The boundaries shifted so much over that time that although they were all Polish, my grandmom came from Austria, my granddad from Russia. In fact, as a young man, he worked for the postal service there. He got a Jew out of Russia by hiding him in his mail sled, under a blanket. My grandmom got educated in a convent in all kinds of household duties. When she came to New York, she became a ladies maid for some wealthy woman, who apparently treated her very well. Then she met my granddad. Married him. Became poor. Had 5 children (not accounting for the 5 who died shortly after birth. Good thing they did, really. They couldn’t afford the ones they had.) I don’t know that much about my dad’s side of the family, as he was a douchebag.
If this country continues on the present course, I would be looking for a mail carrier to do the same for me, if U.S. Mail trucks drove into Canada.
I must be genetically drawn to sweet. I enjoy salty and savoury, but I usually choose the chocolate option. I have similar shade variations in my hair too, although with the amount of grey I now have I doubt I will see any summer-sun bleaching happening.
It’s weird. There are all sorts of things I will eat the hell out of if they’re right in front of me, but I feel no compulsion to buy them. Since I (mostly) went off wheat a bunch of years ago, things like brownies or cookies or pastries no longer have me in their thrall.
I’ve never been a sweet-eater. I remember when I had my tonsils out as a child. I could have had all the ice cream I wanted. I declined.
I’ve got the hair that turns blonde with exposure to sun. Sometimes red as well. My older brother is a true redhead, who came by that gene through the Danes who invaded Scotland.
Summer pictures of me as a young child are either pure blonde or a blonde fringe around my forehead. My mom was in the practice of putting us out the door first thing in the morning and only letting us in for lunch, before sending us out again. I learned a lot about natural history that way.
Ancestry.com and 23andme apparently rely on their database of collected samples to determine where your various genes originated. I think their analyses are getting better as their database grows, but I’ve heard there are some whopping holes particularly represented by areas of the world where people don’t have the spare cash to spend on DNA analysis. This has resulted in some returns of “Africa”. It’s a really big continent with a number of insular people groups, which should return more specific results.
My dad’s family came to America in 1700. My paternal grandmother liked to claim that her ancestors were on the Mayflower, but my research showed that those folks who shared her family name died childless. I think her claims were an effort to cover over the fact that her father and mother were put into indentured service at a tender age because their respective parents couldn’t afford to feed them. My great greats did okay despite being child farm workers.
Solid indisputable Mayflower here.
As a kid, I used to hear jokes about one of us kids resembling the mailman or the milkman. I never understood those jokes but I laughed like they were funny. Ha ha.
For years, we had a bakery delivery called Dugan’s. He drove a funny looking truck and brought us bread, cake, and pie. Cupcakes with a slab of icing that you could peel off and eat like candy. If he was my dad, I’d like to know.
Right? Ohh. Now I’m thinking about peelable frosting.
I haven’t done DNA testing so I don’t know if I have a genetic aversion to heights, but even watching a video of someone jumping out of a perfectly good airplane or walking along the edge of a cliff makes my bladder let go a little. I definitely have the “you will pee yourself at the merest hint of danger” trait, no matter what my DNA might have to say about it. Whatever my lineage, it comes with strong self-preservation instincts.
And I can detect asparagus odor like a boss.
My fear-reaction to heights (or pictures of heights or thoughts of heights) is a feeling that everything inside me is sinking into my lower legs.
That’s my first reaction, right before the urine sinks into my underwear.
I did both Ancestry and 23 and me. Ancestry has not provided me with any new relatives tho it tells me my half sister and her kids may be cousins. I do like the medical aspect of 23 and me. I didn’t get the stretch mark data, and I am a veritable forest of them. I do not have the photic sneeze thing but my son does.