Scientists everywhere are decoding the human genome to see what we’re made of and how we can make ourselves better. I’m no geneticist, but I know a little bit about southerners, and I’ll certify that there is a special part of our DNA that makes us what we really are. We may be talking about just a few genes, but we southerners are programmed in a way that makes our lives much better here in our little part of the world.
Take me, for instance. I know I’ve got the “Buy a Truck” gene. I’ve owned four trucks so far, and when I have one, I’m happy. But you let me sell my pickup, and I’m miserable. I can’t show my face at the hardware store, and I’m ashamed to go to the Waffle House. Wherever that gene is, I know I’ve got it bad. Most southern men and a good number of women share this gene. It’s probably related to the “Buy a Convertible” gene that I’d like to have, if only I could afford it.
I’ve also got the “Play the Banjo” gene. This gene isn’t as common as the automotive genes, but it’s pretty powerful. I inherited my late uncle’s banjo, and it’s a beauty. He had the gene too. About a month ago, I started playing, and there’s something about having a banjo in my hands that feels natural. I’ve been playing the guitar for over 35 years, but I’m making this banjo do things I’ve only dreamed of. Anyway, the banjo gene is somewhere in my DNA. I probably picked it up watching Roy Clark on Hee Haw. Southern genes don’t pass on the way normal genes do; you catch them like you catch the flu. I think I got the truck and convertible genes just by visiting used car lots when I was little.
I recently found out about a gene I didn’t even know existed - the turnip greens and ham gene. I was eating at a restaurant on the Square, and I had some fresh greens mixed with ham. I was in Heaven. I used to hate turnip greens, so I guess some genes must take a while to kick in. I think the scientists call those “recessive,” but I don’t want to get too technical in a column about the genetics of banjos, trucks and turnip greens.
David McCoy, a self-proclaimed Southern-Gentleman and Raconteur-in-Training lives in Covington with his family. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org