September 11, 2009
The other day a guy gave me the finger. Now I don’t mean he actually cut off a finger and gave it to me, although that would have been preferable and, in his case, a smarter thing to do than the hand gesture he made in my direction. You know the one I mean, although it’s always funniest when seen on television where they’ll blur out just the finger and leave the rest of the hand clear. Whenever that happens I wonder how many people are sitting at home scratching their heads thinking, "Well, it looks like that young man’s giving someone the finger, but I can’t tell because it’s all been pixellated." And usually the guy on television who’s giving someone the finger really is pixellated, but that’s another story.
The problem with the finger is there’s really not a snappy comeback for it. When in verbal arguments I can sometimes score points by quoting, say, Winston Churchill. Someone will tell me, "You’re an idiot!" and I’ll say, "Yes, you are ugly, and in the morning…uh…" And Oscar Wilde could absolutely devastate someone with a witty retort like, "Is that your face or did your neck throw up?" In high school a guy once unleashed a barely comprehensible stream of obscenity at me. I said, "You’re a fountain of verbal eloquence," and he replied, "So’s your momma!" Well, he won that round, but at least my mother was happy to know she was a fountain of verbal eloquence. Of course even if I’d had a witty comeback for this guy’s finger, and even if he’d had at least the double-digit IQ required to understand it he never would have heard it because we were in separate cars. I was driving home and he was behind me. Now right there you’re probably thinking, "Oh, now you deserved to get the finger. How dare you be on the road before someone else." But my audacity didn’t end there. I was sticking to the speed limit and actually coming to a complete stop at stop signs. Yes, I know, I’m a horrible person. And I could see this guy in a minivan tailgating me. I’m pretty sure he was scraping his back bumper against mine, and I briefly wondered if I’d accidentally turned into a monster truck rally and was about to be rolled over by Minivanzilla. I looked in the side mirror, the one that says, "Objects are closer than they appear", which always makes me wonder. Why can’t they make the side mirrors out of the same stuff they use for the rear view mirror? Do they use it all up making the rear view mirror and the makeup mirror underneath the sun shield so they have to use an inferior type for the side view mirrors?
But that’s another story. In my rearview mirror I could see that this guy desperately needed to trim his nose hair. Also he had a vein in his forehead that was about to explode. Obviously my law-abiding driving was really getting to him, so he waited until we were on a stretch of double-yellow road to pull over into the opposite lane and hit the accelerator, giving me the finger as he went by. I lost sight of him as he sailed over a hill, doing at least sixty in a thirty-five zone and still in the wrong lane. And I can’t help wondering if, sooner or later he’ll wrap the front of that minivan around a tree. Hopefully he won’t be hurt, but when he looks out from behind the airbag he’ll see that tree in the middle of his line of sight like a great big finger.