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Friday, June 15, 2012

TAME HISTORY OF THE BIRD/California Freeway Edition

BIRD LOVERS UNITE--California drivers are among the most creative exponents of “flipping the bird,” especially when annoyed by perceived jerk driving behavior among fellow freeway habitués.

Brandishing the “finger” is short hand for what in the old days was long-winded cursing. There’s simply no time to give a truly heartfelt verbal blast at 70 mph. Instead life in the fast lane has evolved to just giving the “middle digit salute.” More often you see the “gesture” on the roadways because of certain safety factors. In many countries if you middle finger someone in person the gesture often leads to a fight or a fast exit. But in the safety of modern day chariot it’s easy.

I’ll spare the ancient Greek history of giving the finger or the obscene meanings. Most of us need no reminding.

Oddly, in our ying and yang world, there are few antonyms for the gesture. The old fashioned “thumbs up” is it. Otherwise, the bird remains fairly universal and irreplaceable as the world’s most universally recognized hand gesture of contempt. It knows no peer.

Just the other day, I was offended on the freeway and found it particularly time consuming to roll down the window, hang my head out the driver’s side window and shout my usual epithet: “…You son (or daughter) of camel dung may the God Thor damn you and your family to eternal misery upon the hot coals of hell.”

By the time I finished I forgot what agitated me. Next time, I just may resort to the French time honored "bras d'honneur." But to skillfully perform that salute in a car you need to take both hands off the wheel. And, that may result in unsafe driving, which in turn will result in collecting more fingers from passing motorists.

It’s an endless cycle.

For your viewing pleasure, you’ll note the team photo of the Boston Beaneaters baseball club, who posed for the above photo on April 29, 1886. If you do a “Where’s Weido” you will locate among the Beaneaters pitcher Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn. Flipping historians point a finger at Hoss for being the first one photographed showing his malingering finger. If you can’t find him in the photo you’re on your own. No more clues.

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