Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Wrigley Building, the Union Stockyard, and Big Heads

Two years ago, when my cousin got hired by a graphics design outfit based in Chicago, he asked me what my impressions were of the Windy City. I immediately told him the key fact: "Chicago's a city where people have big-ass heads. I mean huge!" I held out my hands and gestured like I was picking up a watermelon. "This big," I exclaimed. He gave me a puzzled look as I launched into a wild soliloquy, describing the preternaturally large head of Mike Ditka, who's the patron saint of Chicago, theorizing on the relationship of the Midwestern diet to head size, and advancing pet ideas concerning Polish ancestory's effect on head size. After my ten minute presentation, looking bored and skeptical, my cousin replied, "okay, I'll look out for it." Four months later, when he came back for a visit, he told me excitedly that I was dead on, that there are indeed an alarmingly large number of big-headed people in Chicago. And he couldn't for the life of him figure out why this is so.

I hadn't thought about this fascinating question in a while, until that last steroids post. Today I began to wonder anew: what accounts for Chicagoans' humongous heads? Heads the size of that red rubber handball that I played with in 2nd grade. Heads so wide that the ears reach the vertical plane of the shoulder blades. Is it an evolutionary mutation to protect the brain against the heavy gusts coming in from Lake Michigan? The aforementioned a 12" pizza for dinner diet?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Other pressing questions of the Age: why are so many young Latino men completely obsessed with fey British troubadour Morrissey? Do Asians have a genetic predisposition to like Erasure?