Ever wonder about family traits? Why this particular trait chose your family or, in some cases, their family?
I’m not talking genetic traits here, folks. In this enlightened age we all know about, even if we don’t quite understand the double helix stuff, DNA and genetics. I’m talking about more nebulae kinds of things. Why, for instance, everyone in that family seems to like to go sky-diving. Or, in my case, it’s words and maps.
OK, we can get into the long discussion of nature versus nurture, but that doesn’t quite explain why this affinity for atlases and penchant for puns (and alliterations) seems to show up not only in siblings and offspring, but also in random cousins and nephews and nieces several times removed.
The puns we’ll discuss elsewhere . . . but I want to ask about maps and directions here.
I don’t know about your family, but any member of a half dozen branches of my family can be sitting at a table after a meal and the conversations turns to an accident we’ve had, or a funny sign you saw, or someone’s house you visited and out come the silverware and anything other random accoutrement sitting on the table to represent streets and intersections and houses and trees and . . . . well, you get the idea. Various in-laws shake their heads and tsk-tsk with a “there they go again” kind of resignation.
And maps? Who do you know who collects maps? I’m sure that among my family we could stock a pretty complete McNally/Rand store. And don’t ask any one of us where something is located because out will come the pencil and paper to draw you a detailed map of how to get there . . . always oriented with north at the top.
And that’s another thing. Are there those in your family who always need to know where north is in relation to where they are located at any given time? Well, my family seems to be that weird tribe who honestly, physically needs to know “which way is north.” We all seem to get a physical feeling of discomfort if we don’t have a sense of north. And this need seems to start early.
I remember (starting a paragraph with those two words means I’m old) one time when I was a kid (there’s the rest of that “old” sentence) of about 8 or 9, my parents and I went to visit an aunt in Modesto. Somehow I got my directions turned around. I was so miserable (translate: I whined a lot) that my dad finally put me in the car and told me to put my face on the seat, then proceeded to drive around several blocks in various directions. After about 15 minutes he told me which direction we were facing and told me to sit up and look around. Sure enough, all was right with the world . . . until we got back to the aunt’s house where, until this day, it sits on the wrong side of the street at the wrong compass point.
Of course, many of you shake your head and wonder, sometimes aloud, why is this so important. My answer is, “who knows?” I just know that I am physically uncomfortable if my world isn’t straight with the compass. I’d worry about how weird I was if this trait hadn’t shown up in siblings, my children and random branches of the family tree.
So, OK, I’ll cop to weird. . . but if you ever need directions to someplace, we’re the ones to ask.
Adrienne Jacoby is a 40-plus-year resident of Shasta County and native-born Californian. She was a teacher of vocal music in the Enterprise Schools for 27 years and has been retired for 11 years.
A musician all her life, she was married to the late Bill Jacoby with whom she formed a locally well -known musical group who prided themselves in playing for weddings, wakes, riots, bar mitzvas and super market openings. And, oh yes . . . she has two children, J’Anna and Jayson.
A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Chamberlain, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.