Viking Finger, DNA and a ‘meh’ compliment

Now, this is my kind of Viking! Grrrrr…

I hope the title of this post intrigues you to read to the end.  The story is all over the place but linked by DNA.  Teddy, my husband, and I have always been competitive about our various ailments/oddities.  That is why we are soul-mates…  Recently, Ted had been complaining about a little growth on his pinkie finger.  Long story short, the Italian American surgeon operated and came out to tell me what the prognosis was after the surgery.  Unexpectedly, he told me it was a benign tumor and he had never seen anything like it.  It seemed to be wrapped around the tendon.  Then he told me that he had his DNA test and discovered (to his obvious Braveheart excitement) that he had a significant percentage of Scottish DNA.  This was a red letter day for him – an unusual surgery on his Scottish compatriot.  I had to gently let him know that the Scottish wife was really an Irish Hispanic mix.  Hilariously, to me, he could not have looked more Italian but perhaps in his heart he was wearing blue Woad and tartan.

The growth went to pathology and a week later Teddy met with the Italian/Scots surgeon who excitedly told him that it was Dupruyen’s Contracture, a thickening of tendons in the hand that most commonly occurs in men around age 60 from Northern Europe.  In Teddy’s case the thickening was on the upside of the finger when it is usually the other way around.  When he came home we Googled it to find out that it is sometimes called Viking Finger.  Can you imagine the fun I had with vulgar comments about my Viking’s Finger and where he could put it??  I have to admit that this month he has beat my giant cyst, Pumpkin, and the atrophied hoo-ha.

This led on to thinking what our DNA tests have done to us.  Despite being 60% Irish, I cling defensively to my Conquistador heritage with a dash of Native American.  I am deeply unhappy that Teddy has 4% more Iberian DNA than me.  He is unhappy that he has no Native American ancestry despite having no American relatives.  On many an occasion, a flirtatious Hispanic man has been so disappointed that my maiden name was Ortega. “But you look Scandinavian or Irish!” Our family was convinced that we were secretly Jewish but my DNA indicates otherwise…

So, I am at the airport this weekend and yet another Arabic man flirts with me (or is the other way around)?  I would have guessed that he was a little older than me.  First, he tells me I am beautiful.  That elicited a smile and thank you.  Then he asked me what age I was.  I was surprised at the query but answered honestly that I will be 57 in a month.  He looked me over and said, “I would have taken you for 51, maybe 52.” WTF!!!!  Surely he could have told a little white lie and suggested 45?  I will take any compliment but that was a bit ‘meh’.  Then he asked me where I was from and I told him the usual spiel. You could see the disappointment on his face when I told him I had North African and Middle Eastern ancestry. “But you look Scandinavian”.  I sighed and agreed that I had 1% Scandinavian ancestry.  Now he was happy that he had flirted with one of ABBA’s kin.

I am beginning to come to terms that I am as Irish as a Mullingar heifer no matter how varied my DNA is. I sound Celtic, I look Irish and in America that is way more fascinating than all that Conquistador stuff.  Isn’t it funny how life changes?  At one time being Irish in America was as welcome as a Mexican immigrant.  Well, I have both Irish and Mexican immigrant ancestors so to all the haters out there; I am raising one Viking Finger!

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The Surprise at the Wallace Monument

I borrowed this free image which shows the hill below the monument (full of surprises)!

I borrowed this free image which shows the hill below the monument (full of surprises)!

Many, many years ago I was addicted to youth hosteling all over Scotland. That was the start of my travel bug… I went with various friends and sometimes solo but on this occasion I was with the two girlfriends who became my bridesmaids. We all lived in Glasgow and decided to stay at the Youth Hostel in Stirling. It was a lovely youth hostel in the center of the city and we had easy access to antiquities such as Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument. A couple of years before we had been on a school trip to the Wallace Monument and had some fab photographs of us dangling our feet over the edge with bell bottoms on. There is a long steep windy path up the hill to the Wallace Monument. I Googled it to remind myself of the history and was astonished at the changes. I don’t remember either a coffee shop or a bus up to the tower? Maybe it’s the menopause… http://www.nationalwallacemonument.com/the-monument.html
Briefly, William Wallace is a Scottish hero with his defense of Stirling in medieval times and the monument commemorates him and also gives a fabulous view of the surrounding countryside. I am sorry I am not more excited about this but I didn’t enjoy Scottish history at school and don’t get me started on the inaccuracies of Mel Gibson’s ridiculous portrayal of Braveheart. Anyway… we three friends, about 16 years old, were at the base of the hill leading to the monument. There were now public toilets and one of us needed to use them. She came out a few seconds later, appalled that they were charging sixpence for the privilege of using their restrooms. Bear in mind that there are very few public bathrooms in the wilderness of Scotland and we had been used to squatting behind bushes on previous hiking trips. We laughed at her but she insisted that she could go in the bushes further up the trail. About halfway up, there was a bench and some nice thick bushes to hide behind. Our friend went into the bushes and we sat down for a rest. A few minutes later she came running out, screaming with her trousers around her ankles. We were panicked, not knowing what the problem was. Eventually she calmed down enough to tell us that she had squatted down, placing her hands on the ground to balance herself. Unbeknownst to her, another miserly person had the same thought as her and had dumped something solid on the ground and her hand squished into it. Through our hysterics, we managed to pull her trousers up and fastened them (she couldn’t do it because of the disgusting mess on one hand). The punchline is that she had to spend sixpence to both wash her hands and urinate in the appropriate place. I am sure there is a wonderful moral in this tale but really it’s just gross and funny.