by A Lump Of Clay
The human being is one of the few creatures on this planet that is endowed (whether by an Intelligent Designer or by mindless evolution) with an amazing contraption at the end of the limb. No, I don’t mean the i-phone, silly. The prehensile HAND. For those who are not overly fascinated by Darwinian evolution, “prehensile” translates as “having the ability to grasp things”. This by no means implies that those who are unable to grasp the immense wisdom in this piece of holiday drivel, are in any way fallen behind in Darwinian development in the higher faculties. (We can take it up slooooowly another day).
The hand consists of 1 unpigmented palm, on which are attached 5 flexible digits. Together they are simply amazing in construction and utility. But as I observe the debris of life, as it floats by my un-tinted window, each of the digits that occupy the palm of the human hand are not without its own controversy. Since I am quite accustomed to controversy, let me list them out.
The sturdy and super-fast forefinger, handy for picking out disgusting debris from dark orifices that are inaccessible to the tools in the woodshed, also happens to be the one that is usually the cause of instantaneous mood change. This actually begins in very early childhood, when the adult uses the forefinger to point to a puddle on the posh living room rug, and the child begins to get the idea that an extended forefinger spells trouble.
An extended little finger, especially when sipping a cup of tea, is said to exude oodles of high breeding. But with the women folk, it is apparently their universal secret code that says, “I’ve got him wrapped around this”. And for all you gentlemen friends reading this, you will do well to adopt the life-saving Solomonic adage –“Let ‘em keep thinking that.” It is proven to extend your life by at least 5%, even with the risk of depleting your hairline by 10.
The thumb - pudgy but essential for gripping anything except the wife’s hand – at first glance seems controversy-free. But just don’t try sticking it out as you drive by the bald guy in the monster truck, when he gets pulled over by a cop for trying to force you off the road.
The ring finger seems to be glamorously named. But any pretense of glamour quickly fades when you’re face-to-face with a pug-faced thief armed with a sharp cleaver. And then you discover to your horror that post-marital flab has ensured that your pre-marital diamond ring can only be removed surgically.
When all five are extended, it gets even more unpredictable. The resultant controversy would dependent on several factors like the angle,height and reach of the extended hand. Could vary anywhere between being reciprocated with either a hearty handshake or a stinging slap to the face, depending on which part of the world you are in at the material time and on which side of the bed the other party got up from.
With all that, you would think that a controversy-free state can be safely achieved by keeping all five flexible fingers tightly folded together. Fat hopes. Some in-bred tattooed lout at the far table will be inclined to take that as a personal invitation to a much-longed-for fistfight.
What’s that? Only 4? Aah! Which brings me to the one that is the point of this write-up – the middle finger. You would think that this one, being the longest of the lot would be free of any controversy. Au contraire, this finger, always seems to catch more than its fair share of controversy. Nothing can prepare you for the troubles that are going to befall you if, while keeping all fingers clenched, you were to, for whatever reason, allow the middle one to pop out. Especially within sight of afore-mentioned in-bred, tattooed lout. This innocuous gesture has somehow transcended politics, age, race, religion and gender, to become the world’s top-most, universal sign of provocative defiance. Even the most isolated sadhu, eyes closed tight in the depths of tantric bliss, cannot but respond, at least with a tantric hiss.
History too is replete with anecdotes illustrating the power of the middle finger. Not too long ago, one Mr Saddam gave two Mr Bushes the middle finger. And ended up being THE LATE Mr Saddam.
Centuries ago, a king-maker pope decided to tell Napolean what he thought of him and his invasions. With his middle finger. Very quickly the Roman Catholic Church found itself head-less for several years, while said pope busied himself flicking fleas off his fluffy frock in a French cell.
History books record the fate of a native Indian Chief who asked the captain of the American cavalry for a horse as compensation. “Just one horse!” he pleaded in his native tongue. Unfortunately for him, in his native tongue ‘1’ is indicated by the middle finger. That put paid to his whole tribe. The Indians are still sore about that and are currently pushing for the middle finger to be re-instituted as native rights. So far neither of the current presidential candidates have expressed interest in this issue. Too busy with birth certificates and health certificates, I suppose.
Locally, over the weekend, a colorful activist recently made a pointed criticism of certain religious edicts. That got the religious clerics’ religious knickers all religiously twisted. Not because she pointed out the flaws in their religious edicts. But because of her audacity in using her middle finger to do the pointing. See? Again the middle finger steals the thunder from the show. The afore-mentioned activist, as a woman of breeding, should have just used her little finger. Then the clerics, who being wise men and all (and thus would surely have read my piece about the little finger), would have just smiled within their religious beards and elbowed each other in the ribs with a wink. And we could all now be nationally focusing on the issue of religious edicts. Sigh!
So the middle finger? Not for me, no thanks. I’ve a much more fun thing to do with it.