Sunday, September 30, 2007

I'm Feeling Hip and Ethnic!

So this morning our church was hosting a bone-marrow drive through Bloodsource, and I decided to participate. And of course the first thing they make you do is fill out a long questionaire listing your contact information, your health condition, and your ethnicity. I dutifully filled out this form--leaving a couple of questions blank because I couldn't come up with a satisfying answer. Bloodsource was also collecting a fee, $52.00 per head, to cover the cost of testing and processing all these DNA samples.

When it came my turn to be interviewed, I asked about the questions I'd left blank on the questionaire. The questions were "Would you be willing to have us contact you about donating blood?" and "Would you be willing to have us contact you about donating platelets?" The reason that I didn't know how to answer these questions is that, under current FDA guidelines, I'm forbidden from donating blood products. I used to donate occasionally. But having grown up in a military family that was stationed in Germany in the early 1980's, I was exposed to British-grown beef, and well... the government thinks I have Mad Cow disease.

So I told the lady that I'd love to be able to donate again, but that I'm not currently allowed. So yes, I'd love to be called about it, but then I'd just have to answer "no." But then she said something very interesting; they're lobbying the FDA to have the restrictions related to Mad Cow removed. After all, to my knowledge there haven't yet been any known cases of Jacob-Kreutzfeldt Disease (human form of Mad Cow) transmitted through blood transfusions. And one would think, with all the blood donors who lived on US bases in Europe in the '80's, if there was a risk, it would have made someone sick by now. In any case these restrictions are banning a big chunk of the potential donating public; military personnel and their family members tend to be heavy hitters when it comes to donating blood.

Then she said something very interesting. She said they're lobbying the FDA to have the the restrictions lifted, and that there's at least a likelihood that it will happen; and that when it does happen, they will be calling up a whole lot of people to get them to donate. So I went ahead and checked yes to the little boxes.

Then she started asking me more questions about my ethnicity. Am I part Latino? No. Am I part Native American? Well actually, so far as I know, there is in my family tree one full-blooded Cherokee eight generations back.

Well, now! She immediately marked on my application that I'm part Native American.

And I said that, um.... it was only one person eight generations ago, which would make me no more that one part in 256 Native American.

She responded, "You'd be surprised at what kind of stuff that leaves in your DNA." She then went on to say that they're really really looking for people who are mixed-race Native American; they're often the hardest ones to match. And that because I'm mixed-race, I get to waive the $52.00 fee, if I want to.

Well, I went ahead and paid anyway, telling them to sponsor someone else who wasn't as, um... genetically endowed as me. And I went away thinking to myself: I'm mixed race! I, the blue-eyed, red-bearded, never-tanned one--whose skin turns beet red even while thinking about the sun--I'm officially one of those for whom the currently approved term is First Peoples! This is so cool. I'm ethnic! Who knew?

So a little later I started to wax eloquent to my lovely wife about my newfound identity, telling her that "I'm feeling Hip and Ethnic now!" whereupon she began to wax eloquent right back at me:

"Get over it."

Well, um... ok.

So it then occurred to me: what's the opposite of Hip and Ethnic?

Actually, Weird Al's video is actually only a mildly exaggerated description of me. No, I don't speak Klingon (Qapla'!), but I have recently been picking up a strong interest in Anglo-Saxon (Hwaet!). You can't get much more White and Nerdy than that.

I guess I'll just have to go back to being a member of the lowly oppressor class. How totally uncool.

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