Arts & Culture

Battle of the Genes

Today I thought it would be fun to interview my husband about the joys (the joys!) of being married to someone who was born in Israel and moved to the U.S. when she was ten. Danit: How is it being … Read More

By / October 27, 2008

Today I thought it would be fun to interview my husband about the joys (the joys!) of being married to someone who was born in Israel and moved to the U.S. when she was ten.

Danit: How is it being married to me? Bill: I’d give it a seven. Danit: That’s only a C. What the hell??

Well, I guess that’s enough of that.

The truth is, my husband is a lapsed Catholic from Minnesota. That makes him nicer than just about everyone except Canadians. On snowy days, he drives around the neighborhood trolling for people digging their cars out, and then he stops to help them. If their car needs a jump, it makes his whole day.

I met my husband in graduate school back in 2001. I had spent the previous four years in Israel, and the one useful skill I’d picked up was the ability to yell at people—preferably from the services sector—without even breaking a sweat. “This soup is cold!” I’d yell. Or, “What do you mean my deposit is non-refundable?!”

You can imagine the wacky sitcom potential here, if we weren’t both so fundamentally dull. It also led me to expect that when we had children, my aggressive dark genes would beat the crap out of his wussy blond ones. Instead, we ended up with this:

(Obviously, my older son is already casting out demons.)

I guess it’s too soon to tell about the little one, but the big one is all peaches and cream and, at least according to my parents, who aren’t at all bitter, he looks exactly like my mother-in-law. Plus, except when he’s screaming that his food is too hot, he tends to be kind and helpful and even-tempered.

The reason I’m sharing this is because I’m surprised. I’d honestly believed that the survival of the Jews in the face of millennia of adversity would translate into genetic dominance, if not necessarily athletic prowess.

One final story:

I had my second baby six and a half weeks ago. When the first one was born two years earlier, the nurses at the hospital fell all over themselves to tell me how handsome he was. "Oh, you say that to everyone, don’t you?" my husband fake-protested modestly.

"Actually, we don’t," said the nurse. "If the baby’s ugly, we say something like, ‘Boy, what a lot of hair!’"

With the birth of boy #2, we discovered that this nurse had been telling the truth. This time around, not one person complimented our new baby’s looks. And it wasn’t just that these nurses happened to be reticent: I had to share a room with two other women, and I could hear these very same nurses exclaiming, "So sweet! So beautiful!" once they reached the other side of the privacy curtain. (Like my parents, I’m not bitter.)

Is it a coincidence, then, that #2 is the one who supposedly looks like me? (I’m not bitter about that either.)

But back to my husband, who’s so nice that he’s fetching me a Popsicle from the kitchen as we ready ourselves to watch CSI Miami (no, we don’t have cable).

Danit: Any other tips for marrying semi-Israelis? Bill: Learn to like gefilte fish. And never, ever make them angry

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