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.