Last week my wife and I watched a TV program highlighting the most popular television shows of all time. Mary Ellen was delighted when Barbara Walters announced that their poll revealed “I Love Lucy” was ranked number one. “Everyone loves a redhead,” my wife proclaimed. Mary Ellen is very fair and objective. It probably didn’t even dawn on her at that moment that she is a redhead. Out of sight, out of mind.
Does everyone really love redheads? I did a little googling (as opposed to ogling, which redheads have always caused me to do), and discovered that history has had a fiery relationship with red-tressed women, depicting them in a variety of ways, and not always positive. Lucy herself said, “Once in his life every man is entitled to fall in love with a redhead.” Mark Twain was more circumspect: “While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats.” Meow.
In my research, I discovered that just three weeks ago, there was the Red Head Convention in County Cork, Ireland, where almost a thousand natural redheads redgistered (yes, that’s how they spelled it) to be part of the festivities. Activities included carrot tossing and red pepper juggling. If you were not athletically inclined, you could bring home the MFPSI award: Most Freckles Per Square Inch. How do you train for that?
The convention was not all fun and games. Redheads face some serious issues; experiments done at the University of Louisville a few years ago showed that it takes 20 percent more anesthesia to knock out a redhead in the dentist’s office. My wife is already a knock-out, so this doesn’t apply to her.
Researchers hooked electrodes to brunettes and redheads so they could shock them with a gradually increasing intensity, at the same time upping the amount of anesthesia they requested to ease the pain. This experiment, which I thought had been outlawed by some international treaty after World War II, apparently proved that redheads are either total wimps or are smart enough to quickly say: “Hey, knock it off, or I’ll remove these wires and wrap them around your neck.” The scientists did not report this, of course, because they didn’t want to give electrical shock experimentation a bad name.