Look like the parents, act like the genes

Published 3:00 am Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mark Twain said that we’re all ignorant, just about different things.

One of my main areas of ignorance is genes. I just don’t understand how they work. We get genes from our mamas and daddies who got them for their mamas and daddies and on back to the beginning of time.

We’ve got genes that determine what color eyes and hair we have and how tall or fat we are. We’ve got genes that determine whether we have freckles, ingrown toenails or dimples on our knees or whether we are prone to hot showers, to tithe at church or scream when a mouse runs across the floor. All kinds of things like that.

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Then, we have designer genes that decide whether we like opera or hillbilly music. Whether we prefer a vacation to St. Bart or to Panama City Beach or caviar to catfish or a Lexus to a Ford Pinto.

I got my gospel music genes from Mama, my “going” genes from my granny, my passion for picnics genes from Aunt Eleanor and my used car genes from Daddy.

We never had a new car. Daddy liked “bargain” cars. As long as a car had four wheels, a gas pedal, brakes and a steering knob, Daddy was satisfied. How it looked made absolutely no difference to him.

Once he bought a station wagon with wooden sides and a passenger-side door that flew open if you made a quick left turn. Mama said it looked like something that came off Noah’s Ark.

“Well, would you rather walk?” was Daddy’s reply.

Our ugliest car was a green Hudson that looked like a bloated bullfrog and lunged when you put it in gear. The most “sociable” looking one was a Pontiac that had fender skirts but it started squeaking, and Daddy sold it before he had to spend any money on it.

Daddy bought a mile-long, ivory-colored “antique” station wagon worked fine, except it wouldn’t go in reverse. Daddy said if you knew where you were going, you wouldn’t need to back up.

He had a pickup truck with different colored doors and a big hauling truck with wooden sides that swayed and wobbled when you got above 20 mph. And, he didn’t see a need for “factory” air when you could roll the windows down.

I have a used car gene just like Daddy.

I buy bargains and ride ’em in the ground. Car bargains aren’t necessarily used cars. My first “new” bargain car was a metallic green Pontiac that was a leftover from the year 1967, and we got it for a song, a.k.a. cheap. It took my first baby home from the hospital and my second and my third, so I was real sentimental about “Babe.” But on the way to church one Sunday, we smelled smoke.

“We’re on fire!” the children hollered. We coasted into the church parking lot where Babe went out in a blaze of glory.

I get attached to all my cars. I confide “in” them and ride “on” them, as do all true Southerners.

A favorite and most-missed car was Asparagus. I got her brand new in 1997 for $7,995. She was a go-getter. She crossed the Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains and wound her way around the Rockies, over Vale Pass and through treacherous Independence Pass.

She labored up Capulin Volcano, blew across the Kansas plains with sagebrush stuck in her grill and hotfooted the New Mexico desert.

At 150,000 miles, she collapsed out on a dusty road. Painfully, she was not worth fixing.

I started thinking about genes and Asparagus, first, because I tried to get into a pair of jeans and couldn’t. I laid that off to genes from my grandmother, Minnie.

As for Asparagus, I was cleaning behind the freezer and found a magnet someone left me when Asparagus died. The magnet was a bunch of plastic asparagus. The attached note read: Asparagus (genus). May she rest in piece.

The joke got by me. My humor gene pool is dry.