Thursday, 3 September 2009

All Thumbs. A Rosh Hashana Tradition!

Today is Older Son's birthday and naturally that got me to thinking about thumbs. I realize that statement seems like a non-sequitur and if you are new to these postings, and are far too lazy to click on the link, I will only explain that the connection between Older Son and thumbs goes far beyond the two with which most people come equipped. The opposable thumb is remarkably Darwinian. It truly is what separates us from lesser creatures, and it gives us a feeling of evolutionary superiority even if we haven't really earned it. Through our thumbs we are able to communicate pleasure, (two thumbs up!) contentment, (were you a thumbsucker?) a need for transportation, the health of our plant life, (is your thumb green or brown?) or simply to grasp at straws. We use our thumbs to hold, grapple, twist, twiddle, wiggle, cling with, or simply hang. Thumbs have been twisted and screwed, wrenched and busted. (When I studied martial arts many moons ago, I was taught that the thumb is a natural pressure point that can produce excruciating pain on the poor schnook unfortunate enough to have f*&$ed with me!) Have you ever tried to pick up a simple object from a counter-top with a less than functioning thumb? The thumb is all of that and a bag of chips, so why is it that I persist in discovering new and dreadfully painful methods of inflicting injury on mine every year so close to Rosh Hashana?

I have never been the most graceful or artfully coordinated individual when it comes to fine motor skills. My family has, over time, forbidden me from slicing bagels, removing the blades from food processors, slicing and/or dicing raw and wet vegetables or fruit, or using a flathead screwdriver. Each of these sharp objects has at one time or another resulted in copious amounts of my A positive spilling and has sent me scurrying for bandages, tourniquets or the emergency room. I am the Les Nessman of the family. (For the under-educated-Les Nessman was the bumbling anchorman on WKRP in Cincinnati. It was one of the brilliant inside jokes on the show, that every week, he would sport a band-aid on some visible part of his body. Check out the reruns and search for Les' injuries. It is a hoot!) It is true that there is no set season for my injuries, but it does seem to occur with increasing frequency around the Yamim Noraim. (High Holidays!) Over the past several years I have managed to slice the top off of my thumb with a 9" chef's knife, burn my right thumb and two other fingers removing a plate from the microwave, (that hurt for weeks!) endured various minor scraps and scratches, and then the piece-de-resistance, this week I sliced an inch and a half gash smack dab in the centre of my right thumb. How did I manage such stupidity, you might inquire? In the performance of a mitzvah! I was helping in the kitchen at a shiva house on Monday evening. We were serving a dinner of roasted chicken that came in those flimsy foil chafing dishes. I was attempting to remove the lid of one of these oven-ready torture devices, when my thumb slipped and red stuff started seeping. While the blood was thankfully minimal, the cut is not and it needs to stay covered if I want to grab onto or hold even the simplest of objects.

Now for the average person, a cut on the thumb should be a minor inconvenience at best, but I play the guitar for part of my living, and a major part of that job will be coming up in two weeks. I can't get the thumb pick on over the bandage, I can't hold a flat pick with any dexterity, I can't remove the bandage in order to get the thumb pick on because it is too painful, and I can't pick with a bare thumb for fear of re-opening the wound. Needless to say, rehearsing has ground to a halt. I feel like such a dumbass! What is it about these holidays that inspires me to self-mutilation? I am certain that all of you armchair Freuds out there will be filled with ideas and I would love to hear them, but in the meantime what I really need is a quick fix for my thumb! Send in your cures and I will try them all. Until then, I will simply wish my first born a very Happy Birthday. It is too bad we didn't save your spare. I could really use it right now.


  1. take off the bandage and put crazy glue in the cut

  2. If stitches were not required, put liquid bandaid on it. It should seal the cut. Like crazy glue (oy, Phil), but not so harmful.