Saturday, October 18, 2008

Down with "middle" fingers!

I think we've been profoundly unfair to our middle fingers. Only they have no name that is really their own, marks them as individual. They are known only in their relationship to the other fingers.

Thumb. Pinkie. Index. Ring.


What happens if you lose a finger? What then? Or, taken further, what if you lost two, thumb/index or pinkie/ring? How could it still be a "middle" finger?

How can we saddle one of our digits with an identity so easily undercut, so mutable and yet without agency?

I, for one, am not going to stand for this. I propose an immediate rename of the third digit, formerly known as "middle" finger.

I'm going to call them the "fuckyou" fingers.

Think how satisfying this will render a session of "Thumbkin."

"Where is fuckyou?
Where is fuckyou?
Here I am, Here I am."

No more of a name dependent on others for meaning.

Thumb. Pinkie. Index. Ring.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Alpha Bum

I've wondered for years about the Alpha Bum. Some say he's a myth, but I tell ya he lives on these here streets.

No, just kidding. I had to write that second sentence in the voice of some old-timer con artist in a Scooby-Doo episode. Because if I didn't, my head might've exploded, or at the very least I would have had my poetic license suspended.

Now, where was I?

Right, the Alpha Bum.

I probably first started noticing the "Why lie? I need a beer!" signs in use by panhandlers ten years ago. I'm sure they've been around longer, and had I been paying more attention would have noticed at least one in college, where the sales pitch seems particularly suited.

It occurred to me at some point that there must have been some first use of this begging tactic, some panhandler who struck upon the reverse psychology in a moment of inspiration. In short, an Alpha Bum. And, somehow, the stories of this one Alpha Bum's success spread, maybe along the rails, until bums across America, nay, across the globe, were using this now-familiar tactic.

How familiar? It has become self-referential, capable of its own shorthand. On the way to pick up the Munchkin at school today, I passed a panhandler holding a sign that said only "Why lie?"

That is how might the legacy of the Alpha Bum is - it is an accepted meme, capable of carrying it's meaning with an ultimate economy of words.

I'd like to meet the Alpha Bum someday, and give a quarter to Greatness.