Friday, June 20, 2008

The Fulcrum of Civilization

That's what they used to call the opposable thumb. You know, they were right. I've been trying to do without my right thumb for a couple of weeks. A remarkable number of simple tasks become nearly impossible without the lowly thumb. Try tying your shoes without a thumb. Go ahead. I dare you. It takes forever.

I'm still not entirely sure how I did it, but somehow I managed to tear off about a fourth of my right thumbnail. I used to wonder if the legendary bamboo-shoots-up-the-fingernails was really all that painful. I think I have a pretty fair idea now and I'm giving full marks in the torture sweepstakes to the fingernail gimmick. If the Shining Path or Al Q'aeda or the ACLU ever really want me cough up any state secrets I might happen to know just threaten my fingernails. I'll spill it all. Might even make up a few if it'll help.

And it's not just the accident itself. Every time I tap that thumb against something even fairly lightly the pain is seriously swear word inducing. Which puts a major crimp in typing. I'm a touch typist who learned on an old manual. I've gone from a manual, to an electric, to a word processor to a computer but I still hammer the daylights out the keyboard just as if it were our old Underwood. When I sat down to type at the pc that day, the first time the thumb hit the space bar Mary had to come into the office and peel me off the ceiling with a spatula. Boy, howdy. It brushes away the old cobwebs, lemme tell ya.

The only plus is that you don't need a fully-functional right thumb to play the Highland pipes. It only serves to balance the chanter; it doesn't have any notes to play. Screwing the chanter into the stock is another issue. But thank God for small favours. I can't afford to be giving away any more gigs.