Monday, November 14, 2011

I got some digits

A few years back I opened a Christmas present from my mom. It was one of those smaller gifts that all the men on the same level branch of the family tree get one of. I’m pretty sure my sister’s then-husband had already opened his, but the truth is that nobody ever really noticed or cared much about what that guy was doing so by the time I started tearing into the wrapping paper the element of surprise was still very much intact. I noted the shape and flexibility of the gift before I dug in so I wasn’t surprised to find a soft cover book inside. What did surprise me was the kind of book it was. “Uncle John’s Ahh-Inspiring Bathroom Reader. Huh. Thanks?” is pretty close to my reply. In my mind I’m thinking “Why would my mom think I need something like this to read when I’m taking a dump? I’m a little more cultured than this…Mom, when I crap I read Smithsonian Magazine”.

Well, the book sat around and collected dust for a while and then, one fateful day, I was hit with that urge. That time when your body is telling you it’s time to find some porcelain and find it now. The book must have been near me because when the urge hits like this it’s time to grab whatever is nearby and just run like hell.

So I found myself sitting on the terlet with this book in my hands and I was amazed at how perfectly the item fit the need. I mean this book was jam packed with trivia galore. It had brief news stories, quirky stories, the history of items and words and phrases. It is hundreds of pages of mostly useless, usually fascinating information broken down into 2-5 minute reading time chunks. Brilliant! Soon enough I was collecting as many of these books as I could get my hands on…unfortunately because of the retail prices I buy them all used and usually at thrift stores at that. Now I have an impressive collection and a head full of more forgotten trivia than you could imagine.

So one of the recurring themes is a section Uncle John does on the origin of phrases. I have a phrase that I’ve never really understood the meaning of, maybe some of you know. People often say “I know that like the back of my hand.” The only use for that phrase I have ever really found is changing it to “I know that like I know the palm of my hand” to get a cheap laugh every now and then. Why would someone know the back of their hand intimately? The only way I can really see the entire thing is by extending my arm out and flaying my fingers like a woman who has just painted her nails. It’s a little too effeminate a pose for me.

So that got me to thinking…what’s up with the back of my hand and how does it relate to anything?

Now, we all have our body parts that annoy us. For me, my hands have never been one (or two) of those. I have always wished my ears weren’t so big and that my teeth were straighter and that my belly was thinner, but I’ve always been cool with my mitts…I’m hoping this little study doesn’t ruin that for me.

One thing that affects my hands is that I bite my finger nails. I have done this since I was very young and I’m nearly certain that the teeth I use to bite them are actually worn flat because of it. I don’t bite my nails because I’m nervous, I just do it out of habit…that and an OCD compulsion to do it once they reach a certain length. Let’s examine my fingers one by one:

My pinkies are close enough to identical to talk about them in unison. Pinkie is near and dear to me, but somewhat nondescript. The fingernails here are bitten to perfection. In two days I will certainly have to bite them again, but right now they’re not bitten down to the nubs, they’re not bleeding, they’re not so long that they get caught on things I’m idly passing in the mall…they’re perfect. I wish I could stunt their growth right here. You can see I have some hair between my knuckles. Listen, part of me is from Okinawa so many parts of me have hair sprouting from them. Deal with it.

My grandma has as cat named Ringer. Here are my little ringers. You can see that I have the stylish plain gold wedding band. I did that intentionally to show how unpretentious I am when I’m rolling around town flaunting my status in my 2001 Subaru Legacy sedan with the dent in the side from the random idiot who chucked a half full Mike’s Hard Lime at it when my wife parked on the street at work one night while she was pregnant (ok, I don’t think she was pregnant at them time but it’s possible and it makes the story better). The nails are a bit too long on both fingers and immediately after photographing them I bit both of them off. You can see that my ring is getting a bit snug…I eat a lot of milkshakes, sue me. Oddly, both of these fingernails have always reminded me of the face of the reporter on Sesame Street.

I don’t have much to say about tall man or pointer so I figured I would put them together. This also saved me the embarrassment of flipping you all off. Now that I’m really examining here, I’m noticing that my fingers look like fat earth worms. I’m starting to get a bit grossed out and I’m wondering if my worm digits are sliming the keyboard as I type this. Is there anywhere on my body that pores/hair follicle holes are any more apparent than they are on the lower part of my fingers? I hope not. You could lose spare change in there. Also, until I graduated high school I used to get those bold white blotches under my nails. I was always told they were calcium deposits from drinking a lot of milk. I drink a ton of milk every day in order to do my body good, but the “calcium deposits” are gone. Never trust science. Oh man, you know what they really look like?

Thumbs are gross. It’s lucky for them that they are the only significant difference between man and beast (oh, that and cognitive reasoning…and salvation). For those of you who are fans of the show Survivor, I think my thumbs look a lot like Russell Hantz. That makes me a bit sad, but you can’t judge a book by its cover. They are short and squatty and the nail is usually bit down like Russell’s misshapen, conniving little fat head. I don’t know if you can tell from the pictures, but for years I have been trying to regrow my right thumbnail back up to the same height as the left. I have bitten the nail down so low so many times that it was starting to “yellow” lower and lower which made it impossible to keep nails of similar length. It’s starting to come back now so I hope you’re having to miss out on viewing that mutation. Sorry.

Also, I have hairy feet, but that’s another story…

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