It Must Be Genetic

I may have made an allusion to the fact that John has difficulty communicating his thoughts and feelings effectively in a previous post (Better Left Unsaid). He tends to say things that seem unkind even though he swears this is never his intent. I have sometimes joked that he must be brain damaged or that he is lacking the empathy gene. However, in his most recent appearance in the home version of “How Unthinking Can You Be?” he moved from casual competitor to lightning round champion.

A couple of weeks ago he mentioned that he was planning a trip to Chicago to see our son, Seth. I thought it was a little unusual that he hadn’t included me in the planning or asked if I wanted to go along, but I figured he wanted to stay for five or six days, and taking off for more than a long weekend at this time of year might present a problem at work. Even though I was disappointed I wasn’t going, I didn’t say anything because I know that being able to travel is one of the things John enjoys most about retirement. When he finally got around to giving me the details of the trip, he really stepped in it big time.

“Guess what? I found a flight out of Wichita that was $100 cheaper just by changing my days of travel from Friday through Monday to Friday through Tuesday. That’s a great price.”

“You’re only going to Chicago for a long weekend?”


“I have several weeks of vacation time. Did it occur to you that I might want to come along?”

“Well, I thought you could stay at home and take care of the dogs while I was gone.”

At this point I lost the ability to process language so I’m not sure if he said anything else or not. All I know is that it took a couple of attempts over the next few days to clear the air and re-establish communication as he tried to articulate what he really meant. This prompted some research on my part into the human genome project to see if perhaps the empathy gene really exists. As it turns out, not only is there a genetic link to an individual’s ability to experience empathy, but researchers feel that their work with mice may result in new treatment for people with “social interaction deficits.” Until that is available, I will have to be patient and keep reminding myself maybe it really is genetic.

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