Mama had her notions. Yes, she did. She was a smart lady, a world-class violinist, a Barnard-educated philosophy student, a voracious reader, an expansive thinker, a sharp-as-a-tack witness to human behavior. And she was always spouting opinions ON EVERYTHING. Many of these opinions made sense to me, if not at first, eventually. As in: “There’s such a thing as being so open-minded that your brains fall out.” And: “Every teenage boy has a hollow leg. He fills up his stomach and just keeps going,” which, now that I am responsible for the housing and feeding of one such person, I have learned to be true. She also said a few things that still strike me as somewhat harsh: “When your kids enter puberty, you just want to take them out back and shoot them,” and I’m profoundly grateful she never carried this out herself.
And then there were her mega-mondo-bizarro opinions, her beautifully wacky theses based on either A) questionable science, B) outright quack science; C) science she swore to be mainstream but could never actually cite when questioned; and D) her own rather stunningly insightful observations. Included the last category, which I’ve mentioned before in print and will never tire of repeating, was her First Theory of Faces governing the waning careers of certain regional TV newscasters: according to Mama, these people never hit the big time because their faces came, in the course of aging, to resemble buttocks. For all I know, she was right. I had no better theory.
Also included in category D) were a couple of hypotheses that (I am flabbergasted to now report) I found to be correct. Among other things, Mama SWORE that earlobes kept growing into old age, and yes, it turns out they do, although I must note that she was wrong when she claimed they grew after death, too. I was also a little skeptical of her theories governing malice and human physiognomy — her Second Theory of Faces — which postulated evil in the upside-down portraits of famous people. According to this one, you could see the despotic malevolence in someone’s eyes if you just flipped the photo on its head. (Try it with Hitler. Or don’t. He’s pretty ugly either way.) So far, science has not backed her up on this one. You see anything that supports her, please send me the link.
But Mama also SWORE that early homo sapiens must have had sex with Neanderthals at some point, and this one always made me laugh. HA HA HA MAMA, THAT’S HILARIOUS, I’d say, at which point Mama would cock her head, jut her chin in her saucy little way, mention someone we both knew with prominent eyebrows and pronounce: “Come on. X has a brow ridge. X is proof. One of X‘s ancestors mated with a Neanderthal!”
Sure, Mama! Ha ha ha! Your Third Theory of Faces! Whatever you say!
And then, holy human evolution, it turned out she was right. Time for me to check the mirror. Could be my face looks like an ass.