Recently while at a jewelry auction, a lady standing nearby exclaimed, “I would NEVER wear ANYTHING on my ring finger,” while indicating her left ring finger. It struck me as a rather emotional response to a seemingly innocent gesture by a salesclerk. I know of course, that many ladies consider it bad luck to wear something on their left ring finger, for fear of jinxing the placement of a someday engagement ring. The offhand comment swam around in my head, and wouldn’t go away. Last night, around 3AM, I sat up in bed and grabbed my phone. Half asleep, I touched the keypad and formulated the following list:
- wearing things on finger
- swring finger
- ring finger policee
- i never wear ssomething on a finger
- names for figers
- 2013 is the year fingers are freed from tyranny
I fell back asleep, confident that I had captured the idea I was grappling with. But, in the light of day, the list gives hardly a clue to any kind of sensible thinking. And frankly, most of the list sounds downright ludicrous. After I thought for awhile, I was able to make some sense of that garbled and scrambled list.
I remember when I took Anatomy and Physiology; we learned very particular names for the fingers. We were taught to refer to them as digits. The bones in the digits were called the phalanges. Each finger has three phalanges—the tip (distal), the middle and the bottom (proximal). As in, “A deep laceration was noted on the third digit, across the proximal phalange of the left hand,” which indicated a cut on the bottom of the middle finger of the left hand. I thought that was much more straightforward than the common names given to fingers. Fingers are just fingers; the name “third digit” indicates nothing.
But call the innocent third digit, by its more commonly known name, The Middle Finger, and all of a sudden, that finger is capable of all sorts of damage. Wave The Middle Finger at someone who cuts you off in traffic, once too often and you might just lose the third digit of your right hand, or at least part of it—“Patient stated the distal phalange of third digit of the right hand, had been snipped off with a gardening shear during a highway altercation.” If you happen to live some parts of the UK, it could cost you more, as showing your disgust, can use up to two fingers. I happen to know someone, who routinely uses his Middle Finger to point. He didn’t grow up in the west, so to him, The Middle Finger is the most convenient, to point out his selection on the menu to an astonished waiter, indicate correct directions to a lost but shocked traveler, or even to move his game piece, while playing a board game with his tolerant family. The Middle Finger has such great power, that you don’t even need to see it. Just mention that someone once wielded it, “He flipped her The Bird,” (how did a bird get dragged into all this?) and the argument has a life of its own. Oh the poor third digit! It was once just a plain, common, hardworking, digit and due to no sin of its own, it has been banned from standing on its own for the rest of its life.
And why should The Pointer Finger be so highly esteemed? What did it do to get such a handsome name? It gets all the credit for indicating the solution to the Poincaré Conjecture, thwarting lethal accidents by directing attention to an oncoming wrecking ball, and for Michelangelo’s celebrated contact point between Adam and God. Yet, The Pointer Finger can also be troublesome. If it is used to physically illustrate a fervent emotion and “gets all up in my face like that” or is used by a five year old to showcase an anomaly before asking loudly, “Mommy, why does that man have those big rings in his nose?” just watch the popularity of The Pointer Finger plummet.
And then there is The Ring Finger—ah yes, the great and powerful Ring Finger! Women have thrown themselves off bridges, to the arms of tyrants, or into the throes of motherhood all for the want of a ring to put on The Ring Finger. The Ring Finger causes trouble for men too. Many a man has been put into the poorhouse in order to purchase the correct size rock for The Ring Finger. He’s berated, nagged, tricked or just plain left in a lurch just because he can’t or doesn’t want to produce a ring for the exasperating Ring Finger. And while it waits, no other ring can occupy the space on this cherished finger. And woe to you, if you try on another Ring Finger’s wedding or engagement ring! For some mysterious reason, this means that the owner of the-just-trying-it-on-finger, magically becomes married to the giver of the ring, or it means that a curse that can never be broken is put not only on the couple, but on the owner of the empty Ring Finger, which is doomed to remain forever vacant. This powerful Ring Finger phenomenon, is very similar to the magic experienced by Bilbo in the Hobbit, which prompts Smeagol to wail, “Precious, precious is lost!”
Note: A bit off the subject, but the pressure put on men to propose to women in an unusual or original way, is ridiculous. Women watch too much TV, read too many dumb romance novels and look at too many celebrity magazines. My advice to any man proposing marriage is: Forget all the fanfare. Just propose simply and save all your money. I don’t know of one woman, who wanted to get married, who said no because the man didn’t rent a hot air balloon, or propose on the evening news. And if she does say no, because the proposal isn’t flashy enough for her, dump her—she’s not worth your effort.
Finally, coming in last, is the neglected and misnamed Pinkie. Sometimes called the Baby Finger, this finger is often ignored when it comes to use or decoration. Who decided to call it Pinkie, I’m not sure. It couldn’t be due to its color, because a pink Baby Finger only occurs in albinos or in very pale, red haired, Irish, infants. In any case, the Pinkie or Baby Finger, isn’t used often, except when drinking tea or when substituted as The Pointer Finger for those that are very ostentatious and flamboyant. Occasionally, the Pinkie Finger gets a ring. But that doesn’t last long, because the only people who regularly wear Pinkie rings are those related to the Mob, and before long, the Pinkie along with the Pinkie Ring, both end up in the trash.
An Ode to the Power of the Fingers
By Lucy Van Pelt
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Linus: I can’t memorize these lines. This is ridiculous.
Lucy: Memorize it and be ready to recite when your cue comes.
Linus: I can’t memorize something like this so quickly. Why should I be put through such agony? Give me one good reason why I should memorize this.
Lucy: I’ll give you five good reasons. (curls up each finger into a fist) One, two, three, four, FIVE!
Linus: Those are good reasons.
To all my readers and fellow bloggers—Happy 2013!