Darwinism and Human Legacy
One of the great scientific debates of the last century had to do with the influence of genetics versus environment on shaping an individual’s characteristics. However, the debate has died down, as both proponents are correct on some level. This means that while genetics are set in stone, your legacy has a great deal to do with how you eventually turn out and how you happen to view the world. This was the big deck of legacy that stacked itself up against my gene pool.
On the Italian side:
We were Northern Papist Catholics who were blessed with:
- A grandmother who made ravioli every year at Christmas in a black mourning dress.
- A dominating matronly aunt of mediocre intelligence, who appointed herself the ‘head of the family’ and who always seemed to know what was best for everyone else.
- A meek docile milquetoast aunt, married to the original wife abuser, who sold records for Columbia Corporation for a living, gambled his wages in the stock market, and had a Big Band as a sideline hobby.
- An uncle, who married an Irish girl, then fled to another state so he would not have to face the family’s wrath, then worked in the chemical warfare division at the Pentagon making weapons of mass destruction.
- Various functional or dysfunctional paisano Uncles by marriage, and their functional or dysfunctional offspring cousins.
- And a father who became a dentist after he quit Forrest Ranger School.
On the Texan side we were Southern Baptists; crypto-Sephardic Jews who were blessed with:
- A chain-smoking farmer turned grease monkey grandfather who blissfully ignored his harpy wife.
- A disinherited obese grandmother, who decapitated chickens; constantly overate, and who always seemed to know what was best for everyone else.
- A redneck Uncle, who riveted at the Navy yard, inhaled asbestos then as sideline jobs rode the rodeo and raised breeding bulls.
- A redneck alcoholic Uncle who owned a bar in Dallas, knew jack Ruby, and commuted regularly to gamble his profits in Las Vegas casinos.
- A gaggle of tee-totaling perfectionist, bigoted aunts who took all their cues from mamma.
- A second Great-grandfather who killed two Highwaymen with a Colt .45 and a Great grandfather who was killed in a duel over water rights.
- Various functional or dysfunctional redneck Aunts and Uncles by marriage and their functional or dysfunctional offspring cousins.
- And a mother who was an LPN, when my dentist father found her on an Army base at Fort Bliss, Texas where they were both stationed during World War II.
The Way to Woman’s Heart
My mother said that my father was leaned up against an army barrack porch, while she was standing on a step above him. He reached up backwards and grabbed her leg.
He told her:
- Calm down. I just wanted to see if it was wooden.
That was their first date.
Merging their genes may have been closer to the top of the priority list. But somehow after that, I have a funny feeling they were not thinking too much about legacies or Charles Darwin.
Mom and Dad: Her right leg is the wooden one
We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin: A hairy quadruped furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal in its habits.