Greenpoint, October, 2015

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Digital or Digit?

A couple weeks ago I was walking down Broadway in the Village.  I was about to cross the street when a car sailed into the crosswalk in front of me. From the angle of the car and the driver's head, I could tell she was looking for her first chance to take a right on red.  Illegal in NYC.  With considerable restraint, I said, "What the hell are you doing?" She responded, dismissively, "Fuck off." As I passed in front of her car, I employed the eloquent, efficient, and emotive signal I grew up with--I flipped her off.

As I walked on, it occurred to me how rarely this seems to happen now.   It was about two years ago when  I was last flipped off.  I was headed west on the BQE under the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.  A driver cut me off on the curve in a fashion even I thought too aggressive, so I flipped her off.  She held up her middle finder to her rearview mirror.  Bird-in-the-Mirror.  Nice move, I thought, and smiled.  It felt so familiar and, strange to say, friendly.

Maybe we're all too busy texting each other to send out the original analog WTF or FU message.

There are lots of histories of the gesture on the Internet, tracing it back to the British archers at the battle of Agincourt or the ancient Greeks.

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