My friend Arthur was struggling with things, things like life and death, and everything in between, and so with advice from someone who is paid to smile when she joyously reads what she is told to read, by anyone who will pay her, my friend Arthur enlisted the support of the DNA analysis company “21 and Done” to help him see if he could find out what was up with him.
“What’s up with me?” Arthur said to himself on the morning of the third day of a three-day rain, as he flipped one button that powers the television screen, a second button that retrieves the programming and a third button for the sound.
Arthur then returned his attention to the channel he left before bedtime the night before, and to a program where six people sit in a circle passing to the person next to them, things they’ve heard about the state of things in the world.
The show is called, “What Goes Around Comes Around.”
“It’s not the Indy 500,” but it’ll do, Arthur says.
After one of the hosts said, “Coming up on the next segment of ‘What Goes Around Comes Around,’ Betty tells Bill what Bob said,” the commercial for “21 and Done” appeared, and, before Arthur could change the channel to “What Comes Around Goes Around” on ESPN, the commercial for “21 and Done” caught his eye: the friendly smile, and the pleasant voice, and the soothing notion, that his particular question, “What’s up with me?” has an answer.
“It’s in my genes,” Arthur thought he said to himself.
“No, it’s right here on the counter,” his wife said from the kitchen.
‘It’s in my genes,’ he thought again.
After his wife handed Arthur his I-phone, and as soon as he was sure she wasn’t looking, he closed the Sunnyside Up Neighborhood Association Facebook page and googled “21 and Done” which directed him to 21anddone.com, all one word, lower case, where it turned out, what the friendly woman said on the commercial was true.
For only 99 dollars Arthur could “Experience ancestry in a new way! Get a breakdown of global ancestry by percentages, connect with DNA relatives, and more.”
Or for a hundred dollars more, “Get an even more comprehensive understanding of genetics.”
“That’s the one for me,” Arthur said.
Three to five days later Arthur’s official “21 and Done” “SpitKit” arrived. Carefully following all six of the considerately illustrated steps, and in a matter of minutes, he cleared his throat and spit into the hazardous-waste-labeled specimen bag, sealed the official bar code tube, registered his spit with the official expectorant bar-code code so that there could no doubt about whose spit was spat, and carefully handed a package to a post office clerk to mail it back, lickity spit, in the pre-paid package, to the “21 and Done” lab.
For six to eight weeks Arthur waited. Some days were hot and some days it rained. In either case he waited. He waited for his very own personalized ancestry percentages that would tell him, he knew, why he is quiet when he should make noise and why he hates the taste of cilantro.
The day came, the results arrived.
“By association,” the report stated, “You are 2.6 percent Bolshevik, 10 per cent Labour Unionist, 11.2 percent French Section of the Workers’ International----ist, 28.2 percent Bavarian People’s Party----ist, and 47.1 percent illiterate serf.”
“By occuption,” the four-color note continued, “You are 1.3 per cent slave-trader, 5.3 percent alchemist, 12.7 percent lath-maker, 33 percent itinerant farmer, and 47.1 percent illiterate serf.”
“In historical periods of social and economic conflict, exclusion, tribalism, racism, nationalism, exceptionalism, and systematic inequality, through significant eras, movements, reigns, and epochs, for 25 generations of diminishing certainty, you are genetically predisposed to be victim, 10 per cent; perpetrator, 20 percent; resister, one-quarter-of-one per cent; and bystander, 60 per cent.
“From our analysis of your individualized data,” Arthur’s individualized report said, “You have a 76 percent chance of preferring popcorn with only salt, a 38 percent chance of preferring popcorn with salt and butter.”
“If you jump out of an airplane without a parachute you have a 95.3 percent chance of never collecting social security.”
“Sixty-two-point-five percent of your great grandparents were narcissists,” it said. “Your children have a 31.25 percent chance of being narcissists.”
“Well, that explains it,” Arthur said.
Music: "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) by the Talking Heads