Look at your hand. It’s one of the most incredible instruments in the universe.
Of all the bones in the body, one fourth are in the hand.
Forget the hand. Look at your thumb; that wondrous mechanism that separates us from the other animals.
The world-famous opposable thumb, that amazing device,that has
transported more students to college than the Boston post road. Ideal
for sucking, especially as a baby, and lauded in song and story as the
perfect instrument for pulling out a plum.
Or, in the case of the Caesars, for holding it down for the gladiator to
die, or holding it up, which means "See you later at the orgy." My
friends, for getting up and down the pike, in your pie, in your eye, I
give you the thumb.
Have you any idea, Farmer Brown, of the incredible complexity of this piece of human apparatus?
Of course not. Never having spent any time at Sol and Sol’s swilling
borscht and jamming Latin into your brain while trying to imagine if
Lefty the waitress is wearing a garter belt, you have no idea of the
balletic interplay of parts that make up the human thumb.
The flexor ossis metacarpi pollicis flexes the metacarpal bone, that is,
draws it inward over the palm, thus producing the movement of
opposition. And the Boy Scout salute. Because of this magical
engineering, we could do this. And this. And this.
But our greatest triumph comes not from flexing the metacarpal bone and making a fist,
which always seems to be thirsting to be clenched…No, no, no, no, no.
Our greatest moment is when we open our hand:
Cradling a glass of wine, cupping a loved one’s chin. And the best… the most expert of all…
keeping all the objects of our life in the air at the same time. [begins
to juggle] My friends, for your amusement and bemusement, I give you
the human person. Thumb and fingers flexing madly, straining to keep
aloft the leaden realities of life: ignorance, death and madness. Thus
we create for ourselves the illusion that we have power,that we are in
control, that we are… loved"