RENTED FINGERS: (best read aloud while listening to Harlem Nocturne playing quietly in the background)
My fingers don’t work sometimes, resulting in typos which, goodness knows, I would never have made in my younger days when the old digits were in mid-season form.
When the situation gets too grim, when even teenagers begin to comment on my poor spelling and grammatical errors, I sometimes break down and confess with a heavy heart – hell, I can barely bring myself to say it – that I am using rented fingers.
That it should come to this, as the old saying goes.
You see, I’ve been at the keyboard virtually every day and every night since that dark rainy afternoon when I went online for the first time.
The year was 1994 and I remember it like it was yesterday. Kurt Cobain and Richard Nixon logged off for good. The World Series was canceled because of a Major League baseball players strike. And oh yeah, the Masters Tournament was won by some 18-year-old kid by the name of Tiger Woods.
At the time, I was convinced I was the last person on earth to log on. I gave in to social pressure… sue me. I broke down, got my hands on a 486 and took that cyber-ramp onto the information superhighway. Hell, I was just a kid. Got an account with Compu$erve and there was no looking back. Hammering away at the keys night and day, year after year. I laughed in the face of carpal tunnel syndrome. Repetitive strain injury? Hah!
That was a little over 17 years and a lifetime ago. And now… well, it would be idle to deny that I could even hope to keep up with my writing workload without some ‘performance enhancers’ from the dealers down in Blogtown. You’ve driven by the place, trying not to see the pale burnt-out geeks holding up, heaven save them, hand-written signs, “Will build Websites for Food”. Yeah, I go to Blogtown. I go to get my spare parts from a seedy little back-alley appendage dealer – Digits ‘R’ Us (You Give Us the Cash – We Give You the Finger!). They promise you the moon.. for a price. Fix you up with a couple of perky pointers, a thumb… maybe a pinky. Give you a dream… and the extremities with which to grab onto it. Yeah, they’ll give you a hand, alright. Pun intended. Regular bunch of palm artists. Before you know it, they’ve bled you white and you find yourself begging for hand-outs. From there, it’s straight to the old 5-finger discounts. Nice town.
Still, I keep tap-tap-tapping away until I can’t stand the pain anymore, massaging what’s left of my hands, all the while looking over my shoulder at the new kids, the hot doggers who can pull off a 36-hour straight online chat without so much as a twinge and never ring Godwin’s Bell , not even once, damn them all to hell.
So here I am, still at the keyboard, still staring into a big flat screen monitor, still banging out a rant here, a pithy passage there…
What else can I do? Throw up my hands?
Ring Godwin’s Bell: A phrase I first started using in the late 90s in reference to Godwin’s Law, which law states that the longer an internet discussion or debate continues, the more likely it is that one of the participants will make a reference to Hitler, the Nazis or the Holocaust. Whenever someone fulfills Godwin’s Law, a bell goes off in my mind, not unlike the ringside bell one hears at boxing matches. Ringing Godwin’s bell is, to me, both proof of and a warning against the Reductio ad Hitlerium form.