My wife suggested I take one of those popular 23 And Me at home genetic ancestry tests but I’m afraid it will just tell me I’m 30% Eastern European and 70% Doofus. Since I’m already pretty sure of the results, it seems like wasted money. Although I guess there is always the chance of discovering I’m something like 3% Dystopian or Hekawi. I guess I could cheap-out and take a discount No-Brand Generic Genetic knock-off version of the test but I’d feel really stupid if it simply told me I’m from Earth.
In reality, I cannot complain about my Russian/Hungarian genes. Mom’s 89 and Dad is in his 90s, so assuming I don’t play in traffic, take up a daily two pack of cigarettes and crystal meth habit or get too cocky reaching east and west on a ladder, I will be around to torture y’all with my blog for a while longer.
Now that does not mean my family is not loaded with wacky genetic quirks. A couple of hours at any of our reunions would easily confirm that. But as annoying as they may be, I’ll take my lack of hair, occasional vertigo, warped world view and allergy to insects over the heavy-duty serious burdens some folks bizarrely tangled DNA saddles them with.
My minor stuff aside, the real nuisance that all the men in my family have had to deal with is our astoundingly bad vision. Somewhere in my muddled memories I recall hearing Dad could not follow his childhood dream of becoming a pilot or joining the Air Force because of his horrible eye sight. My inconveniences have not been quite as dramatic. Not able to read the clock when I wake up, the bridge of my nose getting cut up from being slapped in the face playing basketball, annoying smudges while trying to focus in a dark movie theater… My world got better 20 years ago when I got contact lens, but I clearly remember the day when Dad kept me out of my school in second grade to take me to the ‘City’ to get my first pair of eyeglasses.
When most people think of New York City, they picture the tall buildings and hustle bustle of Manhattan, not the blocks of endless houses and apartment buildings out in the boroughs where I grew up. My earliest memories of going into the ‘City’ were sitting backwards in the way back of our family’s early 1960’s big boat of a Buick station wagon.
Every few months all seven of us would pile into the car and head through Queens passed the long-ago demolished landmark red and white checker-boarded Maspeth Gas Holders, over the Williamsburg Bridge, through Manhattan’s then ghetto-ish Lower East Side, down Delancey and Chrystie Streets through the rough and tumbly Bowery, to Dad’s buddy’s second floor Mott St. restaurant in Chinatown. We would always park in the free street spots a few blocks away near the downtown courthouse at the foothills of the Brooklyn Bridge.
As a real little kid, aside from those family jaunts to the Joy Garden restaurant, I did not make it into the City much and I only remember once going with Dad alone. I was about 6 or 7 years old when he took me to the eye doctor to be fitted for my first pair of glasses. Later on I went to an optometrist near the house but money was tight then so I assume Dad knew a guy in town where he could get a deal. Dad seemed to always ‘know a guy’.
It was the first time I ever remember taking a train into the City. Although I could not tell you exactly where the building was, I recall the office did not have windows. I had no choice in the frames picked for me; Dad simply got me the same black horned rimmed ones that he and all three of my older brothers wore. Sadly, it was not till I was heading into High School that I realized I did not have to look like a dork-a-saurus and could get somewhat contemporary glasses that I actually chose.
After leaving the eye doctor’s office that day, we did something that has never happened before or since. Dad and I alone went to a nearby pizza parlor for lunch. He ordered a big meatball parmesan sub sandwich and gave me a third. Sure, I’d been to pizzerias before but I had never eaten anything like that. It was decadently great and as a guilty pleasure, I still love them. That amazing cheese dripping hero did not make up for having to wear glasses, but it helped make that day a lot better.