Gene had always been a lucky guy.
He attributed his luck to good genes, of which his family had an overabundance. He was fresh-faced and rosy, had a strong body and a sturdy build, and enjoyed health and happiness and good fortune, which seemed to travel ahead of him and let everyone know of his impending arrival.
Gene met a gal who was as lucky as he, and by coincidence her name was Jean. Well, that looks all right on paper, but it led to conversations like this:
“Hi, I’m Gene.”
“Me too,” (said Jean).
“Oh, okay,” said a third person, actually feeling confused.
It would have helped if they wore nametags; then people would have understood.
Since they were both so healthy and happy and prosperous, they decided to have a child, whose name, if he were a boy, would be Gene Junior, and whose name, if she were a girl, would be Jean Junior, but Junior either way for short.
Well, Gene Junior or Jean Junior (it doesn’t matter which) would grow up to be very lucky, even more lucky than his or her famously lucky parents — even more lucky than the two of them combined.
And Gene or Jean would also grow up to be a fabulous scientist, who would theorize that luck was in fact a heritable trait, that he or she was so lucky because of this gene, that any children of his or hers would be even luckier than he or she, because the gene’s effects only intensified with each successive generation.
And his or her paper became a smashing success. He or she became famous as well as lucky and fabulous, and everyone wanted to be his or her friend.
“How on Earth did you think up this INCREDIBLE theory?” people would ask. They were gaga.
“Well, I don’t know,” he or she would say. “Just lucky, I guess!”
Yes: The entire basis of this paper, the evidence if you will, was Gene or Jean Junior’s own observation about him- or herself, that he or she seemed awfully lucky, and so were his or her parents, so it probably meant something — it probably meant this.
What a bunch of bunk!
What a stupid theory!
But science had come to a rather sorry state at that point due to lack of funding.
Along came the Nobel Prize Committee, with a bajoolian dollars for Gene or Jean for the discovery of the luck gene.
“Woohoo!” said Gene or Jean Junior, and he or she called up Mom and Dad to tell them the good news.
“That’s amazing!” said Gene and Jean, but then they dropped a real bombshell, a devastating piece of news, on little grown-up Gene or Jean Junior.
He or she was adopted.
Gene and Jean had not been able to have kids.
There went that theory! As bad as it had been.
And Gene or Jean Junior had to ring up the Nobel Prize Committee and explain the terrible truth. There was no luck gene — or, if there was, he or she clearly didn’t have it after all.
I’m not sure what happened at that point. The Nobel Prize Committee probably gave Gene or Jean the prize anyway to save face. You can think so if you like.
Kai Swanson-Dale is best known for his translations of writings by Yevgeny Zamyatin. He currently lives in the United States. Visit him at his website: www.kaiswansondale.com.