For some reason, I feel like channeling Andy Rooney for today’s Inquisition . . .
Why is it that when you’re carrying a full cup of coffee it only spills when you look down at it? How come you can be walking along perfectly fine, but the moment you look down, the coffee shimmies back and forth, splashes over the rim, and burns your hand? Why is that?
My theory is, our hands are extremely nervous appendages; the most nervous, in fact.
Think about it. Our hands often tremble at very odd times. Like when we’re happy. When we’re depressed. When we have a palsy-inducingÂ hang over. When we win the Miss America pageant, and when we’re selected to be a contestant on The Price is Right. You don’t see feet doing that.
Hands are quick to skittishness to say the least.
Our hands are also frightfully shy. If we’re not clutching a cocktail or a cigarette or, I don’t know, a bazooka or something while we’re talking to people we don’t know very well, our hands waste no time slipping away to hide in our pockets. (Mine actually went through a phase where they would hide in other people’s pockets. But that’s a different story altogether, and pending litigation prevents me from elaborating at this time.)
So when you give your hands a difficult task, like carrying a mug of molten lava from the break room to your office, they’re cool, calm, and collectedÂ â€” until you look down.
The moment they feel eyes on them, scrutinizing them, judging them, they begin to tremble nervously, and you soon wind up in the burn ward with a catcher’s mitt of gauze wrapped around the end of your arm.
But I suppose we really can’t blame our hands for being nervous. HandsÂ sometimes get a bad rap, and are no doubt a little gun-shy about a lot of things.
To wit, for years lechers the world over have been referred to as being “all hands”, as though disenchanted, troubled hands travel in roving packs or gangs, and somehowÂ coalesce into grabby, womanizing perverts.
Also, when someone is discovered in the act of doing something wrong, we say they were “caught red-handed”. I can only assume this expression was coined when an unfortunate thief tried to steal someone’s coffee and then looked down at the mug during the getaway.
Hands have had to endure a lot of strife over the years. Aside from the various unpleasant personal tasks they must carry out for us each day, hands have experienced the pain of being slammed in doors, of having firecrackers explode in them, and of catching footballs on cold days.
They’ve displayed hope when folded in prayer and heartache when wrung until raw when those prayers go unanswered.
They’ve been instruments of violence, made into fists to engage our enemies. And they’ve been symbols of submission, raised to our faces to fend off attack.
They’ve been dipped into the foulest things on Earth, and they’ve even been washed incessantly by obsessive compulsives.
So you can’t really fault hands for some of their shortcomings. It’s a hard life being a hand. It really is.
But you’ve got to hand it to hands; for the most part, they’re pretty good things to have. After all, our fingers and opposable thumbs are what helped us get to the top of the food chain. Because of our hands, we made tools and developed technology that has allowed us to sail the oceans, to fly at the speed of sound, to communicate on a global scale, and most importantly, to play Rock/Paper/Scissors.
And despite the violence and harm we perpetrate with our hands, we also use them to express affection, holding tenderly to the hand of a child as we cross the street, or a lover as we walk along the beach. We use them to soothe and excite with caresses in the name of passion. And we use them to amuse and entertain in the name of the Pull My Finger game.
I mean, imagine what life would be like without hands.
How would we greet each other? How would we hitch-hike or flag down a cab? How would we show our appreciation at the end of a show? How would we point out the nearest restroom? What would we wash to prevent Swine flu? How would rappers signal to they homies? How would small children tell us how old they are? How would athletes give high fives? How would we enjoy Internet porn? How would Italians talk? How would we pull up our socks? And how would we make rude noises with our armpits?
Believe it or not, we derive value from our hands, and we do it hand over fist. In short, they are our little five-fingered miracles.
What can you do with your hands? What special hand-related talents do you have? Juggling? Magic? Shadow puppets? Is this the silliest Afternoon Inquisition yet?