Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Thumb Triumphant

Back when I worked in a hospital, I would walk into the nurses' lounge at 3am and find my co-workers text messaging.

How those thumbs flew! How intent and purposeful they were! They could have been texting to the pair of thumbs sitting beside them. Who knew? The owners were not talking to each other, and the only sound in the room was the TV showing dream real estate on House and Garden TV.

And last summer, when I was out visiting, I witnessed another Thumb Fest between a pretty 17 year old, two suitors, and the girl's mother.

One suitor had invited this young woman to a birthday party (hers), and the other one had invited her to a dinner with his mother.

These engagements were on the same night, and mother and daughter were twiddling mightily to prevent a showdown, a scene, and recriminations. What happened I cannot report, for I do not speak Thumb, and no human voice ever told me who triumphed.

In a different time this scenario might have been drama or comedy. Oscar Wilde would have chosen the latter, and his audience would have enjoyed at least two amusing scenes. A Russian novelist would have written a chapter or two, and Jane Austen would have wrapped everything up in a tidy two pages. Raymond Carver would have given it a paragraph, though one sentence would be more likely-

I was thinking about the Thumb's ascendance to human dialogue the other day, and before I knew it I had committed an act of doggerel. Here it is.

The Triumph of The Thumb, by Miss Betsy.

Back when we were apes and lemurs

Killing prey with flying femurs

Thumb and forefinger took a vow.

Through eons,ages,centuries

Never did they work apart.

They aimed the arrow,steered the plow-

They perpetrated Modern Art.

But thumb grew tired

of feeling hired.

Why not strike out on his own?

For he was weary of being cut

By Global knives and cat food cans

Consigned to boredom with the also rans

While other digits took the glory.

And then he saw her-glimmering.

A sly, ambitious little screen

Dressed scantily in silicon.

He touched.

She purred.

"Words are best when they're not heard",

She whispered. Silently.

"You can mummify the tongue!

Make the larynx obsolete.

Show that all that need be said

Is better by a finger led

Than by some vocal, whining bleat

That only ends in Drama.

Once opposed, but now Imposing!

The Future is yours,

Almighty Thumb!"


Out on the prairie said...

pretty funny, I don't text, I remain a talker

betsy said...

Thanks, Steve. I am a talker as well, but our numbers are dwindling. I fear people are becoming what Charlie Chaplain, in "The Great Dictator" called "machine men with machine minds".

Hollywood forever, Kevin said...

Oh Betsy! nice to hear from you again and what a nice funny poem. Thanks, K

Sam said...

Pat MacManus, one of my favorite authors, theorized that man was evolving backwards when hunting from elevated tree stands first became popular. He predicted that man would re-develop the prehensile tail from spending so much time up in the trees. Watching teens furiously texting makes me wonder if we won't re-develop the prehensile toe to take over in the thumb's stead.

Vagabonde said...

I love your expression “thumb fest” and I see it daily around us. My eldest daughter bought me an iphone for my birthday so she could text me. Luckily both of my daughters are very busy so they text me about once a month or less and that’s fine with me.