[Mariam in the act of thumb twiddling. Photo credit: Me]
Twiddle. (v) To wait idly because one cannot take action.
Not that many weeks ago I found myself behind the wheel of an Avis Rent Car. I had set the cruise control at 71 mph. We were heading north out of Albany, coming home from several months in England. I was fixated on the highway beyond the windshield. We were on I-87, the ‘Northway’. It was no use using the radio because if you found a station that was interesting, you only had about nine minutes to enjoy it. Then it would fade into crackling static. I was bored and apparently so was my wife, Mariam. I knew that because I glanced at her during an hour of quiet. She was twiddling her thumbs. I never noticed her doing that before, but upon later questioning, she admitted she often twiddled her thumbs while I drove. (Refer to the above definition.) I further wondered about her actions knowing that she had a thumb joint replacement about thirty years ago.
Now I must confess at this point that I tried, really tried to enjoy twiddling. I really tried. But, like piano jazz, it wasn’t working for me. I consider it akin to chewing gum. I’ve actually chewed gum before, mostly while a teenager, and all I ever got out of it was a sore jaw. I’m fully aware that the main purpose of chewing gum is that you can stare down a guy named Slash while sitting in a bar in Reno. It makes you look confident and nonchalant. I never actually tried it, but I assume it works. I saw it work in a few Clint Eastwood movies.
But, I digress.
I decided to delve deeper into this twiddling thing. The further I went the more fascinating it became. For example, the word origin is likely a blend of TWIST (or maybe TWIRL) and FIDDLE. It’s past participle form is Twiddled. It’s Gerund form is Twiddling. Don’t ask me about that. I never really understood what a gerund was anyway.
A further confession: I found myself twiddling my thumbs a few months ago while I sat in my doctor’s office in NYC. Why? Because the office staff had failed to put a recent copy of Arthritis Today magazine on the table. I love those articles and sometimes I can copy out a recipe.
So, that’s it. I’ve covered twiddling in my blogs. Next topic? Maybe Bone Spurs. Who knows.
By the way, if you are a thumb twiddler, always keep your thumbs in contact. Less stress on the joints.
Or, so I’m told.
One final comment: A priest once told me that twiddling your thumbs would make you go blind. I haven’t seen any evidence of that in Mariam, although she may be having cataract surgery sometime in the next ten years.
[Photo credit: Google search (CartoonStock]