When I was about 10 years old - the tender age Salad Boy is now - my Aunt Betty told me three things:
1. All girls look the same in the dark.
2. If you don't like the way a girl looks, put a bag over her head.
3. You can't help who your relatives are.
I'm not making this up.
Anyway, about 10 years ago, when my grandmother passed away, we were going through her belongings. There was clothing with the overwhelming scent of mothballs, handfulls of all kinds of rosaries and reams of prayer cards that honored Catholic saints and miraculous events (the Infant Jesus of Prague was a big hit with her) and, of course, old photographs.
Buried deep in one box was the following photo of my great-grandfather, Bruno Reitano:
Finding this photo was like finding the Rosetta Stone for me.
It explained so much: The fondness for drinking beer in a tropical setting. The reluctance to feel guilt for public displays of tomfoolery. The enjoyment in wearing ridiculous costumes. Clearly this was a seminal moment.
I loved the photo so much, I framed it and put it on my desk at work. People would come by and ask who it was. I'd tell them and they would never believe me.
I didn't try to read too much into the photo, though. I just enjoyed having it there. And it helped me pass down what then became a time-honored tradition.
Then a couple years ago, one of my colleagues at work, Karen, brought me a greeting card with this photo on the front:
This told me even more: My great-grandfather was a man who followed a trend - even when it involved potential scorn and ridicule.
Anyway, I was clearing out some boxes the other day, and I came across some old photos. I also knew Salad Mom had boxes of old photos at her place, so I asked her to bring some by so I could hook up the scanner and preserve them.
In sorting through them, I tripped across this photo. Again, it was a shot of my great-grandfather:
That's right. He's wearing a sombrero.
I'll now pause for dramatic effect.
All I can say is, "Wow."
My Aunt Betty was right; you really can't help who your relatives are. Mainly because your relatives are ... you.
Not only is this an additional clue to the origin of the species buried within a very special episode of "CSI: Salad Man," it also is, without a doubt, the very best addition to The Sombrero Project (and its subsequent parts (Dos, Tres and Quatro and Cinco and Seis).
At this moment, I am a man totally and entirely in awe of natural selection.