One time a pretty, brown-eyed brunette with whom I had made an acquaintance invited me over to her house on a quiet Sunday afternoon. It was my first visit.
While she sat on her couch and I on her easy chair our pleasant conversation was interrupted by the phone. Her son was on the line. He was the one who would become the bane of deer during hunting season, I would learn.
By chance he called just at that tender moment to say hello after a busy week.
The handset of her cordless phone did not work, so she had to press the speakerphone button to answer. I sat silently while the two of them went through the opening pleasantries.
“So how’s ol’ blue eyes?” blurted out the son, whom I would learn soon enough was the loudmouth of the family. When “The Tribune” starts showing my photo on the front page in color again you’ll be able to note my blue eyes.
The brunette’s face turned all shades of red and I grinned like a ‘possum.
We still chuckle over that story even after celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary not long ago.
Some time after the blue eyes incident we got invited to a family reunion on my mother’s side, the side with which my bride was less familiar. Lots of aunts, uncles and cousins gathered in the old school cafeteria in Austin. A good time was had by all.
On the ride home my brown-eyed beauty blurted out, “I’ve never seen so many blue eyes in all my life.”
I had not noticed. So I started noticing. And she was right. Aunts and uncles, cousins, cousins’ children and even cousins’ grandchildren - we’ve all got them blue eyes.
In science class in school they said blue eyes were a recessive trait. That means when it comes time for genes to decide the color of a baby’s eyes, like brown vs. blue, the browns are the dominant trait and have the muscle.
I quizzed my blue-eyed teacher, the late Pauline Greenwood, about that in class one time.
I just couldn’t get my young mind wrapped around how we still have recessive traits like blue eyes even though the dominant traits like brown eyes are supposed to be passed on to future generations. So why don’t I have the brown eyes of the Harris clan?
All Mrs. Greenwood needed to have done was stare into my blue eyes and say go ask your mother, aunts, uncles and cousins.
I caught one of my cousins in John Boy’s one time with one of his grandchildren. I was stunned as the child stared up from the table with those dazzling blue eyes undiluted after at least five generations (from my grandfather to his great-great grandson.)
Those Irish (McCann) eyes are still smiling.
Now, let’s consider the case of my two stepsons. One, the loudmouth, is dark-haired. The other is sandy-haired though as a child he was blond.
The dark-haired one is the big deer hunter in the family, while the sandy-haired stepson doesn’t hunt. They’re quite different.
The sandy-haired stepson in turn has two sons, one dark-haired and one blond, but the blond’s hair will darken too as he hits his teen years.
Now the family could sit around the table at holiday time and discuss how intriguing is genetics, examine dominant and recessive traits, and lecture on how the younger generation mirrors the older.
But that’s not any fun.
What is fun is recalling the time the dark-haired stepson moved back here from out of state and spent a few months at his brother’s house till he found a new place of his own.
Now the story we heard at the time was that during those few months in such close quarters the dark-haired stepson did not get along well with his sister-in-law. Her dark-haired boy had been born well before this time, but that’s a detail ignored easily enough.
So we start comparing the handsome, dark-haired boy with his handsome, dark-haired uncle and compliment their mutual dark hair and good looks. Then we ask to refresh our memory of just when was the fine young dark-haired lad born.
You didn’t know just how much fun genetic science could be, did you?
About this time the boy’s mother is slumping in her chair, her face burrowing into a deep frown, and steam is starting to seep from her ears.
That’s the signal, of course, to lay on the teasing even thicker.
By the way, has the lad shown an interest in deer-hunting since his uncle took him down to the gamelands in South Carolina on that Saturday, when was it, a year ago? Wasn’t that nice of uncle to do that for his, er, for the boy.
Meanwhile, by this time the dark-haired uncle’s new wife is looking none too well either, like she’s developed a sudden attack of bad heartburn. She should take something for that.
You say your family holidays aren’t this much fun? I’m sorry to hear that. Come share in ours sometime. You can see for yourself.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.