I realize that you cannot imagine a reputedly sane man being rash enough to rehearse his wife’s defects in the local newspaper. However, I say enough nice things to her in private that I should be able to say a few mean things in public, right? Right? Well, anyway, she was the one who suggested the subject of inherited traits.


Like all of us, even Mrs. Green does have a few faults. It is just that I am not normally allowed to discuss them in public (or private either, for that matter). For example:


My wife comes from frugal German and Dutch stock, and getting a dollar out of her is a project. She manages the family budget with an iron hand. As the old saying goes, she will squeeze a nickel until the buffalo bellows. I know that most of the husbands in the world have just the opposite problem, but believe me, having a parsimonious wife can have its downside. It is downright embarrassing having to go to the bank to take out a loan to buy a soft drink. Somewhere in her genealogy there must have been someone named Scrooge.


She also has an absurdly-strong mother instinct. We have six children and eighteen grandchildren, which suits her just fine. All that is good as far as it goes. However, most of the time, if I want to get her attention, I have to draw a number and wait in line, because all my progeny out-rank me. You can see how inconvenient that could be.


Mrs. Green’s single biggest defect by far, however, is that she cannot roll her tongue. Honest. There is only one other person in our entire extended family that cannot do that (as far as we know; there are new members showing up all the time). I state that fact shame-facedly and with abject humility. To bring out the dirty laundry of our family is a painful thing; but there it is. I have a flat-tongued wife (sharp – very sharp, but flat).


You will immediately inquire, “Is there any hope for Pam, or is she condemned to this crippling disability for the rest of her life?” Well, I am glad you asked that, because I did a little research into the subject.


It would appear that the ability to roll your tongue is indeed genetically-linked, but it can be learned to some extent. The proportion of people who, when first asked to do so, can easily roll their tongues ranges from 65 to 81 percent, with a slightly higher number among women than males. However, some children (about one in five) do learn over time to roll their tongues.


So, young couples, if you and your spouse are both strong tongue-rollers, there is about a 90% probability that your children also will be tongue-rollers, since that is a dominant genetic trait. If only one of you can do it, then there is a 68% chance. If neither of you can, the chances are only one in three that your little darlings will be able to perform this useful social function.


I must warn you new husbands, however, that there is absolutely no correlation between the ability to roll tongues and the ability to give a tongue-lashing. Even my mild-mannered, even-tempered wife is exceptionally skilled at pointing out my many short-comings. My own private research has revealed that whether their tongues are curled, flat, or forked, upwards of 99% of wives can manage to communicate their displeasure to their husbands in no uncertain terms.