Re: Cultural Knacks?

John Pastore (venture@CANCUN.RCE.COM.MX)
Wed, 3 Apr 1996 03:57:54 +0000

Hi Everybody,

Well, I guess I just can't help myself, but, having lived in New York
City, Atlanta, New Orleans and Cancun, Mx. (in that order), I have
been rather fortunate to observe many cultures over the years.
Experience asserts that the ability to wink seems to have no
cultural bases, though, as was pointed out by a collegue, winking
seems more to be a "male thing", though I would think that while that
remains true, in non-Latin cultures, male winking is probably on the
wane. I would say directly proportionate to the rising incidence of
high heels being attached to male temples -that is when there are
high heels. Lipstick tubes, umbrella handles and chipped finger nails
seem to be a phenomena which directly relate.

Contrary to the winking phenmona, their are physical motor traits,
or special abilities that do seem to have a cultural base. Polish
people in N.Y.C., for example, showed a particuarly pronounced
ability for ear wiggling. Jewish peolpe, despite being popularly
noted for being able to use their heads, never seemed to be able to
stand on them. Greeks were notorious for being able to force belches.
Italians actually practiced tapping their inflated cheeks so
studiously to eventually be able to play whole operas. And that was
just New York.

While finger snapping, seemed a universally equal trait, the ability
was taken to new heights by Apalachian whites of Scotch-Irish decent
who were particularly adept at snapping their fingers not so much
from the wrist, but so much more from the shoulder to actually pop
their elbows at the same time that they even called it " finger
popping" which is what it was -sound wise. They even square danced to
it. An historically isolated community of Afro-Americans living on
the Sea Islands of Georgia were absolutley statling for the numbers
of people who could walk on the knuckles of their feet. While
whistling is well known everywhere, it was the "Y'ats" of New
Orleans' Ninth Ward whose knack for the art was so fluid while
drinking beer that it became a new artform -something akin to playing
glasses with varying amount of water in them while rubbing a damp
finger on their rims. And, they weren't just whistling Dixie, they
had a repetoire that must have been the product of generations.
Throughout all my travels the ability to coss one's eyes at one's
will always seemed most universal among oriental populations. In
Mexico, there is an ability to not exhale with such ease after
downing so many jalapeno peppers that the acutal practice of
practicing it has been going on for so long to have assuredly passed
into racial conciousness.

In all my travels, what definetly was not a trait partial to any
single culture, though, was the ability to laugh -even at
oneselves.We all need a good one every now and then.

Have fun...

John Pastore
Writer in El Mayab
"The supreme good in education is expert discernment in
all things- the power to tell the good from the bad,
the genuine from the counterfeit, and to prefer the
good and the genuine to the bad and the counterfeit."

-Samuel Johnson