Oh, how I love to wake up to Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries. Or even perhaps, Richard Rodgers’ Victory at Sea. These two vibrant war and remembrance orchestrations taunt the eardrums and make the heart pound with excitement and anticipation. But no, these days I have the pleasure of waking to the more contemporary sound of all 33 bones realigning in my back. This unharmonious symphony is augmented by knees offering syncopated percussive rhythm. I am telling you I could win an orthopedic music award for best soundtrack created by an old person getting out of bed. Metaphorically speaking, arthritis is my new favorite “F” word.
Now, I’ve been on this Golden Years rant before, so I am not going to lecture on the joys of youth. I think I just need to bellyache about the progression of it all. I awoke, joyfully, to a twenty-degree drop in the temperature this morning. I love warm weather, but I hate to sweat. Summer has yet to wave goodbye but already, in one day, my joints are pleading for an electric blanket. Seriously? Can I have no easing into the hellish retributions of cold weather? I find myself wondering how Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans hopped around on television every day with smiles on their faces. My youth was a lie. It had to be a lie.
Of course, everything in life has become an exaggeration. Or, at least, it is a very guarded manipulation of the truth. I cannot recount how many times I have been told “You certainly don’t look your age” and I am always humbly flattered by the compliment. But, in reality, who in their right mind would say “Dang lady, you look old.” I have heard “You look tired” or “Aren’t you sleeping well?” and while those sentiments are open for interpretation, I am still enamored by those who speak with such honesty. I believe on any day we all can gravitate from angelic to ancient in a heartbeat. But I have to question – do redheads have an edge?
Did you know that red hair occurs naturally in only 1-2% of the human population? Always identified as a recessive trait, it was long known that the red hair gene must be inherited from both parents. But it was not until 2000 that scientists discovered it is caused by a series of mutations in the MC1R gene found on chromosome 16. This chromosomal abnormality accounts for a number of oddities, all of which crown me the poster child of redheaded sirens. Yes, I know, siren is a stretch.
One of the most impressive attributes is that redheads naturally produce their own vitamin D. This is good as we are usually very light-skinned and sensitive to ultraviolet rays (I do not tan – I hive and freckle). The mutation also releases a hormone that mimics endorphins – which in turn provides pain relief. This supports the fact that doctors and dentists have told me many times, I seem to have a very high tolerance to pain. Additionally, we gingers are much more sensitive to temperature change (I either sweat or freeze it seems). We also need at least 20% more anesthesia than our dark-haired counterparts explaining why over-the-counter drugs are practically useless to me. A dentist once asked me how much alcohol I consumed weekly because of the excessive amount of Novocaine required to numb my jaw. I pointed at my hair with a “Duh Doc, I’m a redhead not an alcoholic” kind of irritation.
The only thought that matters is that amid aches and pains and the occasional loss of sanity, I feel very secure in my skin. The family genes have been kind. Although when I am riddled with back pain, I wonder how painful it really is since my tolerance level is pumped with genetically enhanced endorphins.
My only disadvantage is that redheads’ hair initially turns to light copper, then blonde, and finally white, completely skipping the silvery gray stage. So instead of looking like a sexy grandma, I will soon radiate the allure of Albert Einstein. Maybe I should just embrace my award-winning talent for musically brilliant bone-crunching and get over it. Ah, but that is fodder for yet another rant.
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