Thumbs

As big gnarly dudes pass sixty they see what’s left of their studliness fritter away. Yesterday the wife asked—well, hereby ordered—me to hang up some posters in the bedroom. We still have posters in the bedroom, being groovy. (No, not Credence Clearwater Revisited or Neil Young’s AARP tour.) So I went and got the push pins, held the poster in place and stuck the pin in with my  thumb, but nothing happened. I tried again. Nothing happened. Tried again. Still nothing. I was mystified. This wall sure has gotten hard I said aloud. Sure, my wife said. It took a few more tries before it dawned on me that at some point in the last couple years my thumb had gotten too feeble to push a tack into the wall. Arthritis. All around me were things hung up over the years, held in place with tacks I had pushed into walls and wood soft as butter. Now I had to get the little hammer. It’s a rock hammer, actually, perfect for splitting open rocks to see what died inside a quarter billion years ago or for tapping tacks into a stubborn wall. But years of epilepsy have left me with a tremor imperceptible till I try to take a picture of a check with my iPhone or manage to hit my thumb with a hammer three out of four blows. So I got the big hammer which shattered the push pins, which unlike walls have not gotten harder over the years. Eventually I hung up the posters with nails. Nails. A hammer and nails. Then I fell and couldn’t get up.

OK, I didn’t, but my thumbs might as well have, the bums. It’s not like they don’t get plenty of exercise. They do. I’m an old drummer laying down beats and paradiddles endlessly, like a child with hyperactivity issues. But air drumming and coffee table solos haven’t done much for the digits. The finger muscles that would grip a plastic wine glass a little too hard (they use to shatter so easily, try doing that at a chic press event) or leave bruises without ever meaning to, well they’re just not what they used to be. You can’t be all thumbs when the thumb can’t even push a damn thumb tack into a wall. Especially if the walls keep getting harder.

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