Give the Future the Finger

By Chris McPherson

Below is a personal essay I wrote for the Student Voice magazine in January at Syracuse University. Here is also a link to the PDF version.

People have sudden realizations every day. Overeaters decide to put down the donuts and pick up the dumbbells. Smokers take a pass on the puff. And some people find God, or some other higher being. Those epiphanies probably all start from different triggers. The overeater may have had a hard time fitting into his favorite pair of skinny jeans, the smoker could have just seen a clip of a lung cancer patient on a new NYQuits commercial, and the new believer could have just survived a near- death experience. Just like those hypothetical scenarios, I, too, recently found a new view on the world. Not exactly a near death-experience, but a minor injury recently opened my eyes.

It all started on the winter streets of Greenwich Village in Manhattan. After going out to dinner for a friend’s birthday, my group decided to see what else was interesting around town. I was already a little buzzed from an on- the-go mixed drink I had made at home. We found a club that didn’t have a cover charge. It seemed nice — dark lighting, fancy couches, and wooden tables. I felt like at any moment I could have run into a celebrity sipping a sex on the beach.

While I was telling my friend a joke, I leaned against the wall near a door. Little did I know, I had placed my finger in the crevice of the door’s hinge. I was fine for a few minutes because the door was wide open, but when someone let it go, the door came slamming

onto my fragile finger. At first, I felt a steady pressure on my pinkie. Second after second, the pressure increased.

Before I knew it, my finger was in distress — to put it lightly. I reached over with my right hand to see what was wrong. I had some saving to do. In the heat of the moment, I mustered up the strength and pushed on the door to save Mr. Pinkie. I pulled my finger out from the door’s jaws. It was a modern day fairytale. Luckily I didn’t crack the nail, but I did have a pretty red indent.

“Oh my God, Chris, are you OK?” my friend Nicole said after she witnessed the spectacle-turned-heroic rescue.

“Yeah, I’m fine. That was a close one.”

“No! You need to put some ice on that. I know this stuff, I’m an EMT — hold on.”

She gulped her drink down so she could give me the glass of leftover ice. I swear, one EMT class her senior year, a Grey’s Anatomy marathon later, and this girl thinks she can to save everyone’s life. Still, I appreciated the effort.

As my finger throbbed in pain and Nicole continued to sip from her straw, deep thoughts loomed over my brain. What am I really doing with my life? Am I headed in the right direction? Was it a good idea to get a master’s degree in journalism? It’s often said we don’t miss things until they’re gone, until it’s too

late to do a damn thing about it. Kind of like

the WB, or the Pussycat Dolls. Maybe if I had actually bought their album instead of illegally downloading it, they’d still be around. Although I quickly shook off the pussycat guilt, in that moment I couldn’t stop questioning my life.

It might have been the pinkie pain. It might have been the vodka. It might have been the adventurous DJ who decided to play Fatboy Slim’s Funk Soul Brother as a follow-up song to Biggie Smalls’ Juicy. Regardless, I was in a weird mood.

I think it was then that I realized life was too short. I know, pretty cliché. Things like that happen when someone survives a plane crash or overcomes a deadly disease, but here I am, a grown-ass man, distraught, all because of my pinkie finger.

I came upon a life without my pinkie finger. What would I do if I wanted to be snooty while I was drinking a cup of tea? And if I ever decided to give the “rock on” sign, how many eyebrows would that raise? Let’s not even get into the “we come in peace” sign.

I had no idea where all those rambling thoughts came from. It was like my brain was flooded with a thousand what-ifs, hypothetical scenarios of a four finger life. Like any college student, I solved the problem the only way I knew how — I ordered a vodka cranberry and went on with my life, pinkie in tow.

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