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The Column

You Might Be a Redhead If
10/9/05

If your SPF is higher than your pants size, you might just be a redhead.

Now that a hack premise is out of the way, let me explain what it really means to be redheaded.

People assume that because the cartoon coloring of our hair is the same as the cartoon coloring of fire, redheads must be fiery. That's ridiculous. Not all brunettes have dark sides, and not all blondes are cowards. But evolution has made redheads fiery. If you spent your entire life getting your cheeks pinched and asked "where'd you get your hair?" you would be fiery, too.

I love the question, "where'd you get your hair?" The same place you got yours: from your parents. Even if someone has never studied bio, I think our society has come far enough to understand that the stork is a myth.

My parents don't have red hair, but two of the three children my mother gave birth to do. There are actually four kids in my family, but I don't think you can count my adopted sister in this equation. When two parents have a recessive red-headed gene, odds are that one in four of their kids will be redheaded. But my folks have two of three.

People jokingly suggest that perhaps I'm the product of a different father, that maybe my mother was cheating on my father with Ron Howard. But if the assumption is that I need redheaded parents to have red hair, then wouldn't I need to have a different mother, too? Yes, I am the love child of Lucile Ball and Archie Andrews, dropped off in Jamaica, Queens for my parents to raise. That's why I often hatch hair-brained schemes and have a grid drawn on the side of my head.

I am constantly told I look like this person's red-headed acquaintance or asked if I'm related to that person's redheaded friend. Yes, all redheads look the same and are related. And we all go to meetings, where we discuss how much we dislike Professor Flutesnoot and Principal Weatherbee. And the reason you think I look like your redheaded friend is because you have no idea what either of us actually looks like. You don't need to - you can spot us right away with no recognition of facial features. I had a goatee for two years. And when I shaved it, maybe four people noticed. Two of them were other redheads.

Apparently, I look like Conan O'Brien and Craig Kilborn and that guy in your 7th grade English class because he was tall with red hair, too. The one redhead I never hear that I look like is Mark McGwire. And not because his forearms are the size of my chest, but because he wears a hat.

Having red hair also doesn't mean I'm Irish. I do jokes about how there are Jewish redheads and no one believe it because there are so few Irish Jews. Harrison Ford is one of them. But I don't look like him, either. See? He's Irish without red hair. You might already know that if he wore a hat less frequently.

My oldest sister and I don't always see eye to eye, though that could be because I'm a foot taller than her. But when it comes to responding to people about her hair, she couldn't be more on point. Whenever anyone asks about where she got her hair, she says, "my little brother." If that wasn't enough, a man came up to her and my mother at a super market when she was a toddler. When my sister was a toddler, not my mom. That'd be bizarre if my mother was a toddler and she already had a kid.

Anyway, a man came up to the two of them and said, "hiya red!" My sister responded with an emphatic, "hiya gray!"

And we all congratulated her at the next meeting.

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