Friday, October 12, 2007

he built himself a world and put people on it

i was at my niece's birthday party a week or so ago when my dad told me about how he read that people are attracted to each other because of pheromones. specifically, he said, we respond to pheromones secreted by people with different immune systems than us. this makes sense since the offspring would have a more more complex immune system which would lead to a higher chance of survival. this bit of information from my dad surprised me because we have very different views on the evolutionary history of humans -- he believes god plays a big part in it while i barely believe in god. but whatever. the point of this retelling is you (and i mean i) would be surprised how many people believe that biological processes not controlled by our conscious self largely determine our social interactions.

lewis thomas talked about this stuff all the time. i think because he was an entomologist and saw humans sharing many of the characteristics of other social species like ants and bees. the example of his that comes to mind is how his researcher friend would measure his beard trimmings of periods of time he was out in the wild doing research where he didn't see any females versus the periods of time he lived in the city (and saw females and interacted with females all the time). he grew substantially more facial hair when he was around women.

twice in my life, i've created arbitrary checklists for girls i would be interested in. it's a stupid thing to do, but it was supposed to be a joke about people who prefer blonds over brunettes or whatever other superficial way we construct our dream baby. (i mean baby in a gender-inspecific, pet name kind of way, but mostly i used dream baby because i like the roy obirson song by the same name.) but the joke really didn't work because i didn't realize i was (and am) an idiot.

the first time i was 22 and had just got out of provo. my checklist: (1) didn't own a cellphone and (2) listened to the pixies. the first girl i liked after creating the checklist owned and regularly operated a cellphone and barely knew who the pixies were. the second checklist came a year later: (1) live within 15 minutes of me, (2) own a car since i hate to drive and (3) play(ed) soccer. the next girl i liked, while living close and owning a car, didn't like soccer.

so much for my checklists. but i'm ok with having no control over who i'm attracted to. i let my genes handle that.

(p.s. i used to think the pixies were cool and while i still like doolittle, the jesus and mary chain are way cooler.)

11 comments:

natali said...

my aunt used to tell me that i needed to like boys that liked me. and then i started to worry that i only liked people that didnt like me. i dont think that anymore. now i just think i like people based on sweaters. the last four boys i have had crushes on had really great sweaters. maybe my genes are just attracted to sweaters. it makes it hard to get into a relationship in the summer.

ck said...

is this a shallow dealbreaker: the guy was always sick. i mean colds, flu, strep...you name it. i don't want him passing those genes along to my children. survival of the fittest doesn't stop for the common cold, people!

natali said...

today i overheard a conversation at work about genes. not about how they determine who you like but how it sucks if your spouse gets heart disease and dies.

becky said...

are we talking great genes or great jeans? because i want a mate with both.

becky said...

also, maybe i will compose a list of specific genes i will require in my significant other.

becky said...

thirdly, this is a great post brian

natali said...

is it rude to ask for genetic testing? it cant be worse then a prenup...

Colls said...

it is a very valid request to want a genes test. in the 1998 film "gattaca" it is normal. movies usually help me make my decisions.

Colls said...

furthermore, brian you are brilliant. i would like you to write a book if you haven't already..or maybe your thesis for a masters degree...

natali said...

i think sugarcube and i have a mutual crush on a boy with good sweaters. that being said nobody likes him for his personality.

natali said...

also i would also like brian to write a book. he could easily just throw in some of his best blog posts and have a best seller on his hands.