A dear friend visited our home a few years ago. This friend was inordinately fond of our then three year old daughter Petunia (not her real name), whom he had always found charming and engaging.
Upon entering our lounge our friend encountered Petunia who looked at him, smiled, raised the middle finger of her left hand in what is undoubtedly an internationally recognised gesture, and waved it at him. She kept the finger raised and danced her hand around a little in the air.
Our friend was shocked, really shocked.
Luckily the situation was saved seconds later when our five year old advised him that Petunia was showing him her “invisible finger puppet”. And she was. Earlier in the day she had been in possession of a lovely horse finger puppet and though she had now lost the actual prop, she wanted to share with our friend her now invisible finger puppet.
Much hilarity ensued, but my eight year old was confused. When everyone had left the room she came and demanded to know what all the fuss was about.
“Well Petunia showed him the rude finger” I said.
“The rude finger?!” she repeated.
“Yes the rude finger” I replied.
“Hoooooooow can there be a RUDEEEE finger?” she bellowed. “HOW ridiculous, how can a finger be rude?!” “It’s just a finger!”
Which made me think. Because she was right. It really is quite ridiculous. But the fact of the matter is that raising your middle finger at someone is now one of the most offensive things you can do now that a host of swear words have become part of many people’s daily vocabulary.
There is no moral to this story, the only take away being that if someone under the age of five flips you the bird, don’t panic, for it is possible that they too are sharing with you their invisible finger puppet.