Fanfare for the Common Man: Woe is Tall Man

  • Thursday, August 8, 2013

I feel sorry for Tall Man.
Tall Man is the first nickname you ever used for your middle finger … the vertically blessed digit that stands nail and knuckles above all others. When the song announces his arrival in the final verse with the query “Where is Tall Man? Where is Tall Man?” 32 five-year olds shout out “HERE I AM! HERE I AM!” and simultaneously 64 middle fingers get flipped at the teacher showing her she’s still number one in their book.
I bet whoever wrote that early education song had one heck of a laugh in the teacher’s lounge over a cigarette.
Lately though, the shadow of some unsavory press has been laid at Tall Man’s feet. Some wayward birds were spotted during the July 24 special meeting of Berkeley County Council. Due to that, some new parliamentary procedures have been implemented that seek to cage this free bird. Security will conduct a digit check at the door to ensure all eight fingers and both thumbs are acting uniformly and all pointing in the same direction, and that council meetings will not begin until all audience members’ hands are neatly folded in their laps and everyone is facing obediently forward.
I felt like I’d taken a trip back to first grade when Supervisor Dan Davis recently asked an audience member to sit for the remainder of the meeting with his hands folded neatly in his lap.
He was not allowed to scratch, itch or pick at anything for the next hour while county council tried to show Berkeley County department heads that 1 + 1 = 3 when it came to figuring out a budget for the coming year.
You see, the Berkeley County Council meeting room has suddenly become a Tall Man No Fly Zone. You cannot scratch certain parts of your body with the hand’s most prominent finger as you may send the wrong message. While clearly you have an itchy nose or a stubborn fleck of garnish stuck to your front tooth, you could be inadvertently telling members of County Council what you think of their job performance.
A little history if you will in regard to Tall Man.
According to truthorfiction.com, before the Battle of Agincourtin in 1415, the French, anticipating victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of all captured English soldiers. Without the middle finger it would be impossible to draw the renowned English longbow and therefore they would be incapable of fighting in the future. This famous English longbow was made of the native English Yew tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was known as "plucking the yew." 
I promise I’m not making this up.
Sadly for France, they lost the battle, and the English began using the middle finger as a rallying cry to mock the French in future battles. It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows used with the longbow that the symbolic gesture became known as “giving the bird.”
Now, how the word “pluck” morphed into the more vulgar F-bomb, you figure coming from a nation and a time when brushing one’s teeth happened about twice a year, it was simply easier to form the F sound than the PL sound.
So there you have it.
You see? It’s never too late to learn something new.
I guess we should thank Berkeley County Council for that one.

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