Sir Isaac Newton once said:
"In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God's existence."
Perhaps Newton's admiration for this most versatile digit is the reason why Thumb Appreciation Day is celebrated on February 18th. In fact, let's just go with that, since I didn't find one shred of evidence pointing to the actual originator. (And honestly, does it really matter? A party is a party, no matter how silly the reason.)
So, as we appreciate our thumbs today, let us ponder a few reasons why this most important - and most overlooked - of appendages is indispensable.
If there were no thumbs:
...we couldn't have a Rule of Thumb. What would we use for our benchmark phrasing? Rule of Pinky? Nah. No dignity. No dignity at all.
...gardeners would lose that most coveted of titles: Green Thumb.
...those suffering from boredom would lose their most accessible method of relief: twiddling one's thumbs.
...never again could we link fingers with an opponent and shout out, "ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR! I DECLARE A THUMB WAR!"
...typing would be darn near impossible. And forget texting.
...whatever would we call those teensy pictures that stand for files on our computers?
...hitchhikers would have a hard time. Imagine trying to get someone to stop and give you a ride when all you can do is point the way past you.
...Siskel (if he were still among us) and Ebert would be out of a job.
...amateur photographers everywhere would have to find some other body part to block the lens and mar their otherwise masterful creations.
...the couch potatoes among us would have to ditch the remote and find some other way to surf.
...little guys could no longer produce artistic masterpieces with stamp pads, markers, and their two small-type opposable digits.
...we'd have to invent a whole new phrase to describe the clumsy among us. "He's all thumbs" wouldn't mean much anymore.
...we could say goodbye to tennis, ping pong, racquetball, baseball, softball, basketball, lacrosse, bowling, hockey, American football...
...there would be no more penny pinching. No more pinching of any kind, for that matter. And where's the fun in that?
...what would all the poor thumbsuckers do for comfort? As I understand it, fingers or a pacifier are poor substitutes.
...that whole "right to bear arms" thing would be a moot point.
...the literary world would lose a couple of giants in the field: Tom Thumb? Who's that? Thumbelina? Never heard of her.
And as a final reason for the season, consider that thumbs provide us with an outlet to exercise our constitutional rights, as Marshall Lumsden so eloquently points out:
"At no time is freedom of speech more precious than when a man hits his thumb with a hammer."
And lest anyone get all "that's sexist" on me, may I point out that a woman uses her precious free speech elsewhere, as she would never be clumsy enough to whack her thumb with a hammer in the first place...