…so we’re Joyriding along Hwy 116, happy as clams in the warm California sun and feeling pretty smug about Walkin’ on Sunshine whilst the rest of the country is Diggin’ Outta Snowdrifts when out of the corner of my eye I espy a scraggy-looking male standing by the road.
He’s nonchalantly giving every car The Finger.
It’s amazing how a mere Universally-Understood Gesture can instantly turn a reallyreally good mood into a passion for murder.
Me (to The Peanut Gallery, who is driving): …. WTF!!! Is that S.O.B. actually GIVING US THE FINGER?
Bill (who has also observed him): Sure looks like it.
Me: What an a***h!! The nerve, adding crap to everyone’s day by just standing there nonchalantly FLIPPING THE BIRD.
On a tear, I proceeded to rail on for about 5 minutes whilst Bill (wisely) focused on driving and interjecting sympathetic “um hum” and “yeah, you’re right” at seemingly-appropriate moments (like when I paused to draw a breath. I have nothing but a well-trained partner at this point in our relationship.)
He let me go for the full five minutes, cautiously watching out of the corner of his eye as I got madder and madder like a little reddening bantam rooster, before he offered his (“more worldly”) opinion on the matter.
Bill: Ahem. I believe the European hitchhiker has a different approach. They don’t use their thumbs.
(Blankness/pause on my part. HUH???)
Me (astonished): Europeans GIVE EVERYONE THE FINGER? How the heck do they expect a RIDE?
Bill (wisely): It’s not ‘The Finger’ in Europe.
Me (sighing): The Finger is a Universal Symbol. Everyone around the world knows it means F**U. Even in Third World nations.
Bill: Not in Europe. There it means: “I need a ride.”
Me (muttering, now embarrassed): That’s so not gonna fly in this country. He’ll get a ride all right. Straight to hell.
Bill (smugly, broadening his statements to make a point in our long-standing Newspaper Literacy Dispute): …and THAT is why I read The Daily Paper.
Me (incredulously): They publish universal symbols for F**U? Where’s that column located: next to the obituaries??
Bill (exasperated): NO. I read the news so I will understand how other cultures communicate. (Haughtily) Reading the newspaper expands my horizons. Too bad YOU only read the comics and the Agony Aunts, so you miss out on important information like this.
It was all a big puzzle to me, though. I had been flipped off … but I couldn’t become indignant because in Basic European, I actually had just been politely asked for a ride. I think.
So this evening I decided to become more worldly myself. I flipped off The Peanut Gallery… only in European, I was just asking him for a ride (to the store).
He took it badly. (It’s amazing how a simple Universally-Understood Gesture can instantly turn a reallyreally good mood into a passion for murder.)
SO MUCH for “the newspaper expands your horizons.”
And me: when I hit the road, I’m foregoing fingertalk for a plain ‘ole sign crayoning my ultimate destination. THAT will be Universally Understood.
Except by maybe Europeans.
And The Peanut Gallery.
PS: Further research conducted by this admittedly amateur scientist does not conclusively prove the theory that Europeans actually use a different finger to hitchhike. So it has been postulated – by The Peanut Gallery – that said hitchhiker could have simply been Digitally Challenged.
And we ain’t talkin’ computers, either.
…thus proving that in a digital world it’s IMPORTANT to know which digit you’re actually talkin’ about…