Separating Man From Beast
Ah yes, the thumb. Let us drop all doings and kneel in
praise of it: attorney general of the appendage, paterfamilias of the palm.
Rising from the upper ridge of our hands in brazen, three-jointed singularity,
the thumb is one of mankind’s defining attributes. It is the flagpole from
which our powerful brains flutter and snap above all other animals.
Oh sure, koala bears have thumbs. And, back when lizards
were holding down the top of the food chain, there was the odd squawking freak
also gifted with the Glory of Thumb. But that was then, and, kinda like ours,
their clocks were ticking. Meanwhile, a koala bear with a Skill saw would
create too sad and bloody a display for even Mike Holmes to refurbish.
Myself, I’m pretty stoked on my thumbs. They’re probably a
bit different than yours, on account of my double metacarpophalangeal joints,
which make me the crusher-destroyer of all thumb war throw-downs. But that’s
not why I’m so stoked on them.
As is the case with most thumbs, each of mine comes with
three bones commanded by eight muscles: four in my forearm and four in my hand.
Taken together, this system gives me an opposable digit, which is just wicked
when it comes to holding beer bottles, operating Skill saws to the
embarrassment of Australian marsupials, and carrying my skateboard out of the
park after my ankles, which I’m not so stoked on, twig out on me.
Another thing I often use my thumb for is hitchhiking.
When’s the last time you saw a lesser animal doing that? Unless, of course,
you’re thinking of that hippy you picked up outside Horseshoe Bay, the dude
with the cute, little puppy all romping clumsy on the roadside next to his
rucksack. Was it the puppy you wanted to get close to? Or the maddening reek of
patchouli oil and the unswerving allegiance to stereotype?
Yes — I like puppies, too. But it’s a trick, and you
should know that.
Nevermind Jack Kerouac, Here’s Ford Prefect
One of the worst things about hitchhiking is the association
it carries with Jack Kerouac’s
On the Road
I hate that book because it’s so boring, although it’s entirely possible that
I’m too shallow to understand it. More possible still is that I just think
William Burroughs was cooler.
Besides, far better literary associations can be found with
Tom Robbins and Kurt Vonnegut. The latter had his alter ego, Kilgour Trout,
hitching all over the place in
Breakfast of Champions
, while the former, in
Even Cowgirls Get
, creates a saucy protagonist with
a thumb so huge it brings her fame. Those books were just too weird to be