“There has been some mistake!” I said to my cardiologist when I saw the results of my fasting blood work. “My cholesterol level should be perfect! I’ll have you know that I eat right; and I’ve lost two pounds!”
“It’s genetic,” he explained with his eye lids at half-mast.
“I need to complain. Give me names,” I demanded.
As he sucked a front tooth and picked his teeth with an appointment card, he casually answered, “Good luck finding the ancestral culprit from several hundred years back who drank gravy for a beverage and smeared hog lard on his bread.”
“I suppose I’m to blame my great-great-great grandmother for an early puberty, too, huh! And while I’m at it, I might as well desecrate the tombstone of my great grand-step-neighbor for this bloating and constipation. Sheesh.”
“It is what it is. It’s in your genes.”
“My jeans? I don’t buy it, Doc.”
I drove out of the parking lot of the doctor’s office, disappointed that I hadn’t made a perfect score on my cholesterol check. It dawned on me that my family was meant to be hunter-gathers, but we’re living in a modern world. Ages ago, my ancestors in Scotland probably painted their faces blue and ran screaming from the mountains in their loincloths. Gingham came later, and I’m uncertain whether my people of “clandom” were issued cloths of any sort.
It was a calorie-burning job, and my family of clan members made a living whacking at the soil with a stick. It was not the kind of work where they had a lot of room for advancement. The best a Scot could hope for, if he was really good at it, was that he would be rewarded by not having one of his arms sliced off by a passing McGregor. Bonnie Prince Charlie was the referee and The Isle of Skye was used for parking.
During the Renaissance, my Scottish ancestors gathered up gold and tromped across Asia to the Orient, where they traded their gold for spices. They didn’t really WANT spices, but the Orientals claimed that spice was all they had. And the Scots, having tromped all that way, wanted to take home SOMETHING. After a few years of this, my Scottish ancestors were starting to run out of gold. Also, their food was so heavily spiced that it glowed in the dark. Should I ultimately blame the Orientals for my heartburn?
Clothed or not, screaming and whacking required a hearty breakfast. Besides, since those Scots didn’t know when they’d get their next meal, they had to “pack it in” so they’d have meat on their bones and strength to keep screaming. Fast forward to today—we still “pack it in” and manage to crowd it into three squares a day. Nowadays, we have layers upon layers of meat on our bones.
Driving down the street, I thought of the doctor’s words: “It is what it is…” My body is what it is, and my ancestors were who they were. I decided to honor them for the legacy they’ve left me, so I pulled over…
…at the Golden Corral.
Cindy Baker Burnett is a resident of Bonham. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org