Perhaps, it was a vicious pair of garden shears, a ribbon cutting ceremony turned tragic, a table saw with a chip on its shoulder, or an overzealous mother who corrected her child’s infantile habit with a pair of brass sewing scissors. Or maybe after decades of silent protest, of belly button jabbing, channel surfing, booger picking, pointless twiddling, and chronic Kung Fu grip masturbation, we finally made a break for it. While our captor was submerged in doubtless sleep, we wiggled our way to freedom like a polyp pulled from the ocean floor by its own desire.
Whoever or whatever it was, it was over. It was done. The past was a sutured anatomy of memory and time, with every moment preceding this one permanently severed and forgotten. The future, however, had no shape. It lacked definition in every sense. Even the word itself was beautifully empty, a placeholder for what was to come. No longer hostage to the vestigial ballast of our former master, we were free to chase whatever fancied our opposable whims. And so as the anesthetic took hold of us, the florescent light above began to soften. The sterile light now hummed with an ethereal glow and before soon fell to beautiful nothing, black. Prostrate, motionless, and cradled by ice like two shrimp tails dreaming of exaltation by a revered gourmet soon we too were dreaming of memories unpassed…
Suddenly, we found ourselves lost in a thick ruby swash. Its velvet tickle gave anxious rise to small goose bumps around our cuticles. And before we could comprehend what it was, it rose. A curtain. We gave ourselves over to riotous movement. Unpremeditated music poured from our tips like water from the mouth of a pitcher. A honey-sweet twang reflected off the surface of a five-string banjo and commanded praise in the form of ten thousand feet, all stomping in rhythm. It was obvious now, we were the star pluckers of an eight-piece world famous country bluegrass jam band called the Llama Empanada String Band. We conquered honkytonk after honkytonk with our barn-burning melodies. And that was just in the early days. We toured extensively throughout the contiguous United States, converting every soul within earshot to a life of fanatic fandom. Not even those everything but country types were immune. Along the way, we reinvented the rock star image. Inspired by our downhome folksy melodies, children everywhere spurned the electric guitar and instead developed an aching desire to learn the banjo. Our image graced magazines, lunch boxes, and poster-plastered bedroom walls. They called us the Beatles of bluegrass, but even that was an insult to our greatness. They raved that our sound, that our legacy, that us, we were forever. But that was a lie. In time we would go from legends to an obscure answer to a dated trivia board game gathering dust on a shelf. 50 platinum albums, hundreds of chart topping songs, and all the hot licks in the world wouldn’t save the pantheon, we built and inhabited, from crumbling to dust: they would forget us.
So we dreamed other dreams. And before long a syrupy aroma of anise began to overwhelm us. We were lolling about, bathing ourselves in glass after glass of Pernod while the gray of a Parisian afternoon eddied around us in a small café on some overlooked promenade. At other tables, fingers held cocked cigarettes and faces blasé expressions. Their attitudes and clothes revealed a social order in which differing levels of voluntary poverty awarded distinction. We gathered from the Gauloises yellowing of our nails that we were artists, finger painters perhaps. Yes, finger painters, of course, we were finger painters, though naturally we resented the condescension it carried. Paintbrushes, you see, are a bourgeois invention designed to make art less accessible to the underprivileged, an unnecessary impediment, which only furthers the divide between art and artist. The very worst of our works were accidental masterpieces whose significance would be debated by critics for centuries to come, and thus immortalize us. But any true artist knows that this immortalization would prevail only in misconstruing their work. Our best pieces, the alchemic lightening that shot from our tips onto naked canvas, would be bastardized by the flashes of camera brandishing tourists on their way to the Louvre gift shop. We would be celebrated and absorbed by the very system we struggled against.
Perhaps, we were underestimating ourselves, placing blinders on our starry eyes, giving a floor to a well of dreams that should be depthless. We’d forgotten the promise our anatomy held.
We’re thumbs, Damit.
We’re the evolutionary boon on which all of human civilization rest. Without us there would be no Great Pyramids, Roman gladiators would look to a thumbless Ceaser and sit in frozen suspense, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel would remain a blank canvas, there would be Sistine Chapel period, no Great Wall, no Stonehenge, not even a grass hut in the dirt, no nothing.
Then in a dizzying blur of flashes, we saw our highest potential realized. We did it all, no desire was left unimagined or unfilled. We would bring world peace to the international community through a series of strategic planned handshakes, an impossible feat without us. We would write the next great American novel via text. The other digits no longer in our way, we would rewrite all the classics too, incorporating emojis to reignite the popular imagination of the next generation’s young readers. It was the best of times J , it was the worst of times L … We would win the Olympic gold in a new category of wrestling. We would follow our wanderlust and thumb rides on foreign roads to faraway lands. We would satisfy scores of gorgeous women from every continent with a writhing pleasure that would make them forget the male anatomy all together, effectively curbing the world’s ballooning population, ending world hungry, and saving the black rhino from certain extinction. In short, we would reinvent the Kama Sutra for opposable digits.
Of course, we would eventually grow old, all must. And so we would sell the movie rights to our life to inspire other to our greatness. A-list actors hungry for Oscar buzz would feud over the privilege to portray us. Ultimately, due to our creative difference with the studio the biopic would never be made. However, years after our passing, the executors of our estate, our children, would sell the rights to Lifetime. Christian Slater would star in the dual-lead. It would be the most commercially successful made-for-television-movie ever produced. The film would be entitled Two Thumbs Up, the epitome of the type of low hanging thumb humor, which we despised in life. Our legacy would be tarnished. We could see ourselves in the black of our very small coffins rolling over.
But then we came to. Above us the sterile white light returned. All our dreams were bleached from our memories and we discovered we were trapped, constrained by a rigid prison. A surgical cast. It dawned on us. What we thought was a transplant was actually a simple reattachment. Our broad horizons, our endless opportunities, our infinite potential all collapsed into a familiar singularity named Chet, an elderly man who farmed soybean. It came back to us. Our leathery existence spent making holes in the dirt. But as unromantic as it was, it was comfortable. Dreaming was hard. Perhaps, life is easier simply being green.