My husband thinks I’m a Neanderthal. I’m pretty sure he’s right.
The first time he brought this up, I shrugged and nodded. The dictionary definition of neanderthal (uncapitalized) includes descriptors like “primitive, unenlightened barbarian”. Since I was in the process of licking the steak juice off my plate and had belched audibly a few minutes before, I could hardly argue.
But he wasn’t slamming my table manners, even though I deserved it. (Did I ever mention that my husband is the most tolerant human being on the face of the earth? The man deserves a medal for putting up with me.)
Turns out he meant Neanderthal with a capital N. As in, “an extinct member of the Homo genus known from Pleistocene specimens found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia”, according to Wikipedia.
Neanderthals have been in the news quite a bit lately. Scientists are beginning to think they (Neanderthals, not scientists) got freaky with so-called “modern man” (homo sapiens) ‘way back when. Apparently, with the exception of Africans, everybody has at least 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal DNA. Researchers postulate that it might be a lot more for some of us. Like me, for instance.
What are a few Neanderthal traits? Red hair. Well, yeah.
Heavy bone structure. When I went in for my baseline bone density exam about 7 years ago, the tech told me I had the hips of a 21-year-old. So Hubby gets bragging rights for cavorting with a 21-year-old. Or at least parts thereof. Which actually sounds pretty creepy when you say it that way.
Particularly strong arms and hands. Um, yeah. I tore some ligaments in my wrist a few years ago. After two years of disuse followed by surgery, my grip strength was measured during physio, and it was at the lower end of average… if I was a man. Off the charts for a woman. I haven’t had it re-measured since I’ve recovered. Hmmm.
More evidence: Hubby and I never share illnesses. We sleep in the same bed, exchange spit on a regular basis, and don’t make any effort to avoid each other if one of us is sick. If he gets a cold or a flu, I won’t get it. And vice versa. He maintains that this is because he’s “modern man”, and I’m Neanderthal.
And then there’s the whole plate-licking, belching behaviour, along with the fact that I subscribe to the “Knock its horns off, wipe its ass, and chase it once across the grill” method of barbeque. (Wish I knew where that quote came from). Although I don’t want to have to apologize to my food when I eat it, I definitely prefer my steaks on the bloody side.
The good news is, Neanderthals weren’t as dumb as we initially thought. Their brains were as large or larger than homo sapiens, and they probably had language and engaged in social rituals. Obviously, I didn’t get the “social rituals” part of the DNA, but there’s hope.
The evidence is pretty strong. So the next time I see the headline “Did Neanderthals have sex with modern man?”, I guess my only correct response is, “Hell, yeah. Every chance I get.”
Maybe that’s why he puts up with me.
Any Neanderthals swinging in your family tree?