Misunderstood Appendage – The Finger
The ultimate insult . . . . . a finger. The middle digit, extended upward, makes people crazy. It’s silly, but true. If presented in anger, it can lead to battery; depending on the interpretation of the recipient. People go out of their way to make sure the target of their aggression sees the gesture clearly. “Don’t mess with me. There you go! There’s The Finger!” Now you are in control. You just slapped somebody around.
I’ve always understood The Finger. Since I was a wee boy, the meaning of the display (usually with a skyward thrust) was known to me. I don’t remember who made me aware, but it was commonly seen around the neighborhood. The funniest demonstration of The Finger is to cradle it between the index and ring fingers, with both of them cocked, almost as though if the other two digits weren’t there, the middle one might fall off. When someone uses that method, they really mean it. Watch out.
When did it become a trademark of “whacking” a person? It is used to put people in their place, but when did it begin? Was Buddha the first to give The Bird? Confucius, Socrates, Plato? Who? Did someone think they could just shove a finger at a person, and they would understand it was meant to harm? I can think of other appendages that could be more shocking. Someone in times gone by decided extending The Finger would get even.
I love the Battle of Agincourt myth. During the now famous Hundred Years War, there was a skirmish in 1415 between the troops of Henry V of England and Charles VI of France. It took place in Agincourt (pronounced ah zin cort), in North France. Apparently the English Bowmen were very adept at their skill, causing numerous French casualties.
Here’s where the myth comes in. Undocumented history indicates the French were cutting off the index and middle fingers of captured archers to prevent them from ever shooting an arrow again (I guess just killing them outright wouldn’t do the job). Maybe a necklace of severed nubs was a prized possession, but there is no proof of the cutting off of the fingers. The myth tells us that the “two-finger salute” or “V” sign was an act of defiance to show the French, “You missed me.” And, of course we naughty Americans perverted it into a “one-finger salute” equated with a sex act.
There are many gestural ways to get under someone’s skin. The Universally-understood Finger beats them all. If I walked into a hotel in Budapest and gave The Finger to the bellhop, he’d probably beat the crap out of me. Hungarian is not my language; therefore, the explanation of wiping sleep from my eye would not work. I was rubbing my eye pretty hard, so he probably wouldn’t believe me.
If you point your index finger at a pit bull, it will bite it off. If you point your index finger in any other way, you are probably giving directions. But, if you point The Finger in pretty much any way, someone will assume you are trying to tick them off. Perhaps you are, but you can pretend it is something else. That’s the beauty of it. No one will think you are purposely giving them The Finger if you claim you are not.
Wayward appendages are good.
We’ll talk later. Right now, I have to get my broken finger set.
Bake My Fish