Accidents of birth

Ed Smith
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Just reading an interesting headline on the computer.

Seems this black couple in Nigeria, I think, has just given birth to a white baby with blond hair and blue eyes. The headline went on to say the couple was “confused.”

I wonder why. I’d be confused, especially if I were the daddy. They have two more children who are as black as their parents, which is what one would expect under normal circumstances.

We don’t know how “normal” these circumstances are, of course. The family was interviewed on television and were obviously intelligent people. They also seemed like a happy couple.

A geneticist came on to say that although this was a very rare circumstance, it could be the result of “an unknown genetic mutation.” Obviously it is. A fellow I know — and it was not me! — was crude enough to suggest that it was an unknown genetic mutation named Dave.

This sort of thing happens all the time. You see couples with not a trace of red in them for the last five generations giving birth to a child with flaming red hair. The husband doesn’t immediately cry foul, nor should he.

I know of twin boys, one of whom is about five-foot-eight and used to be rather rotund, and the other over six feet and skinny as a rail.

They were obviously not fraternal. In fact, I don’t think they were even related. Strange things happen in the world of obstetrics.

Dublin duo

Two men are drinking in a bar. After a while, one turns to the other.

“Are you an Irishman?”

“Yes, begorra, that I am.”

“I thought you might be by your speech. So am I. Where were you born?”

“Dublin, me lad, born and raised.”

“I can’t believe it! So was I! Do you know McClary Street?”

“Know it? That’s where I was raised. Now don’t tell me you were, too!”

“Yes, yes! Raised on McClary Street, and went to Holy Rosary school.”

“By all the Saints, it’s a miracle! I went to Holy Rosary school, too.”

“Holy Mother of God,” the first one says. “To think we had to meet in a bar on George Street in St. John’s. I’m taking you home to meet the wife and kids. They’ll never believe it!”

The bartender turns to another patron sitting a few stools down.

“It’s going to be a long night. The Murphy twins are drunk again.”

Creepy coincidences

You may not believe this next one.

When I was a lad of 16 living in Halifax, four of us went to a circus one night. We decided to get our fortunes told, just for the fun of it. Turned out to be anything but funny. I think the fortune teller knew we weren’t taking her seriously and decided to teach us a lesson.

She told one of us he would demolish his father’s car within the next 12 months. Another fellow was told he would flunk half his mid­term exams at Dalhousie, which had already been written, and the third was forecast to lose his girlfriend to a guy from Dartmouth the next night.

She got really nasty with my friend from Bedford. She told him his father would drop dead at exactly six o’clock on Monday night, three days from then.

We laughed heartily at all that, of course. We didn’t laugh quite as hard when Bill told us when we met the next night he had failed all his courses — the results had been posted that morning.

Fred didn’t meet us at the restaurant on Spring Garden Road as usual. Finally, I called to see what had happened and found him in a blue funk. His girlfriend had broken up with him.

Now, this was getting serious. We’d have to wait to know about my father’s car, but two out of three was disconcerting, to say the least. Fraser was the worst off. He left for home to tell his mother that his father was slated to die at six o’clock on Monday night. We told him this was foolishness and not to worry her, but he wouldn’t listen.

We discovered later that they had a terrible weekend, although they all agreed it was all BS and the fortune teller was just trying to get even with us for making fun of her.

Still, there were Bill’s marks and Fred’s girlfriend. They had decided not to tell the father in case the stress alone gave him a heart attack or something.

At 5:30 p.m. on Monday, they sat their father down on the chesterfield in the living room, had his brother-in-law, a doctor, come by for supper and kept asking Dad how he was. He kept saying he was fine but was somewhat perplexed by all the attention. Like most husbands, he wasn’t used to it.

Every eye in that family was riveted to the clock when 6 p.m. hit. Nothing happened. The father remained sitting up in his chair. When at 6:30 p.m. he was still hale and hearty, they all relaxed. A greatly relieved Fraser said he had a study group at the Dal library and hurried out the front door. He almost fell over the dead body of the mailman on the front step.

Texas tot

Accidents of birth, accidental birth and careless accidents are the reasons many of us are here.

I have often remarked on the fact that were it not for an accident of birth, I might have been born in Haiti or Southeast Asia or Texas. It’s even possible I could have been born to George W. Bush or Jerry Springer.

When all the little “accidents” of the last 1,000 years of my ancestry are brought together, it’s obviously totally by chance that, like you, I was born who I was and where I was.

Somewhere in its history, St. Anthony must have done something good.

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His email address is

Organizations: Holy Rosary school, The Murphy

Geographic location: Nigeria, Dublin, George Street Halifax Dartmouth Bedford Spring Garden Road Haiti Southeast Asia Texas St. Anthony Springdale

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page