It’s Spring, a time of birth and re-birth.  So, it’s natural to look back at our own beginnings. Like most people ?” I’ll never forget those days of being a one-celled organism. 

When those “Shanty Irish” chromosomes crashed into the “Lace Curtain Irish” chromosomes, I knew right away that I was a product of a mixed marriage and that some stormy seas lay ahead.

Being Irish, I immediately joined the electrical workers union. Because everyone knew that the brain and the spinal cord were going to be the first big projects. 

As an apprentice in the United Brotherhood of Neurons, I started stringing wires everywhere.

I’d bump into other types of cells from time to time; there were about a thousand different kinds. But this one hair cell I’ll never forget.  The guy was fresh out of beautician’s school and all he wanted to do was hair. 

I bragged that my job had a higher calling and that I could even end up in charge some day.  I guess the hair guy never got over that, because he later caused me a lot of trouble in the nose and ear departments.

Cells were specializing in all kinds of different things back then.  The carpenters were getting ready to build the bones. 

I was hoping for thick strong ones but they said that centuries of poor nutrition didn’t leave them with much to work with.  I’m proud to say I kept the poor diet tradition alive, so I could pass on chicken bone legs to my own kids.

The plumbers were another story. 

They ended up laying miles of pipeline ?” it looked like the time Curly tried to stop a leak by adding more and more pipes. Plumbing mystifies me to this day.  The blood vessel workers, though, I have to give them credit ?” not a single leak in the whole system.

So, we finished stringing the main wires and flipped the switch to see if it worked. 

The brain and spinal cord lit up like a solid string of Christmas lights.  I thought we were finished, this being our seventh week on the job.  But no, all of those wires had to be insulated.  So, we climbed back up the poles and began coating the wires with this material called myelin.

Wouldn’t you know it but the hair cells were just sprouting around this time.  Why they planted only five chest hairs, I’ll never know. 

The carpenters were finally getting the skeleton underway but I remember there was a big question on all our minds.  Were we going to be a male or female?  We couldn’t stand the suspense any longer, so we had someone count the chromosomes.  He came back and said we had one X one Y ?” there went my dreams of becoming a soccer mom and part-time Realtor.

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.