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.
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.
"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,