Thursday, March 24, 2011

If SiskelEbert Hadn't Trademarked It, This Post Would Receive Two Thumbs Up

Who has two thumbs and loves giving thumbs up? This guy!

There's nothing really groundbreaking about this hand signal. I'm sure even dinosaurs back in the 50s used it--”Hey, that sure was a neat episode of 'Leave it to Beaver,' thumbs up!” But that's exactly why I cherish it so. It's timeless, it's exhilarating, and everyone knows what it means. If you give a thumbs up, things are great.

However, I also love the fact that throughout its storied history, the thumbs up has shifted meanings and definitions. It's a chameleon of an action, and I love every single iteration of it. From the standard “I appreciate you, thumbs up!” to the sarcastic “That last Uwe Boll movie was great, I give it a thumbs up!”

You see, not only can thumbs up be sarcastic, it's actually one of the only hand signals that capable of this. Usually sarcasm requires some input from the voice to be effective—just try to spot the sarcasm in this statement, it's soooooo easy. You probably think you spotted the sarcasm there, but you're wrong, there actually wasn't any, it just doesn't translate to print, whereas it does to thumbs ups. Given the right situation, you can inject sarcasm into anything with a simple thumbs up. This is something you just can't accomplish with a peace sign or a “HA HA Turtle.”

Here's a case study for the sarcastic upper, as I like to call it. One time I was turning onto a street with a stop sign. For some reason, the guy sitting at the stop sign thought of that as an excellent time to ignore the stop sign and start moving into the person unencumbered by road signs (me). After I slammed on my brakes, he must have computed that “stop” actually means “stop,” and finally did.

However, I can't just let idiots go on being idiots. I didn't I just give him the finger, as that would be vulgar. Oh no, I used a far different, far better phalanx. I looked at him and raised my thumb toward the heavens. Initially he stared back at me with a look of confusion on his face. But I could see it slowly processing in his head—I wasn't complimenting his stopping skills, no, I was actually making fun of him because he wouldn't stop when all laws and logic told him to! It took a near-crash experience for him to realize this.

When he finally figured out how I gave him a sarcastic hand signal, his face contorted into a mass of rage. Spewing forth from that face of evil, I could clearly make out a rather loud profanity starting with F. Now, I didn't actually hear it, so it didn't offend me, but after it was out, I looked over in his passenger seat and saw an 80-year-old woman. I'm sure this grandmotherly type loved hearing the worst of worsts profanities coming out at a decibel level that is only describable as the loudest of louds.

But the thumbs up comes in hand for more than just sarcastic situations. If you ever become a circa seven BC Roman emperor, you're gonna need to know how to decide if the gladiator lives or dies, but luckily, you've practiced thumbs-upping so much, you'll be able to kill off anyone you dislike. Just remember, in those messed up times, thumbs up was the sign for “Kill the Christian.” So remember, thumbs up-bad, thumbs down-good.

That fruit treat tasted like bad movie!
But therein lies the problem, apparently in many countries, the thumbs up sign has held onto its gladitorial roots and has become the ultimate show of disrespect. I'm talking even worse than biting your thumb at someone (“No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir”). This could raise issues when all you wanted to do is tell someone they provided a real bitchin' Fruit Roll-Up. (Super Sour Lemon Drop Dead Fred Berry, get out!). If the pectin has swarmed your brain and you find yourself raising your thumb toward the heavens, simply explain you were sarcastically giving a thumbs up, therefore negating the ultimate disrespect of a thumbs up in that land. Since this hand signal is capable of being sarcastic, you just might avoid a stoning. Maybe.

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