Thursday, April 13, 2006

Speak To Me Only With Thine Fingers: Anatomy Of An Obscene Gesture

How do you say "F.U." using only your hand?

(OK, Aunt B, if you haven't already, you may want to navigate away from this page right now. It ain't purty.)

Depending on where you're from, it varies. Below are a few versions I've learned and used.

The first is "the finger" or "the bird." This is the one I learned growing up in New York.

This variant on "the finger/bird" is one that was more common when I moved to the South. It still looks weird to me, and is hard to do. Note how the forefinger and ring finger "bracket" the middle finger; this is allegedly a more "anatomically detailed" version of the non-verbal message this gesture is sending.

You can't watch British shows like Blackadder, Red Dwarf and The Young Ones without learning the "up yours" two-finger gesture. Turn your hand palm out, and this becomes the WWII British rallying cry, "V for victory," or the "peace" sign.

And finally, just to show I don't use my hands solely to make obscene gestures, here they are behaving themselves. This is what years of "soaking in it" will do for you.

Of course, there are many more obscene gestures. I think the Italians have cornered the market on them. But they involve more than just the hand.

I am curious to know if version 1 above is understood outside of the US, if version 2 is really regional US, and if version 3 is used outside Britain.

Do tell!


Bird said...

I foresee a new career for you as a hand model.

Nice suit and spiffy tie there, Bogs. you clean up good.

Pete Bogs said...

thanks, but I'd only do that if I could be shown holding pints of Guinness... I don't want to get a "metrosexual" label... lol

ardlair said...

Yes number 1 is used and well known here.

Were you going to or coming from a party?

Just that I saw your paper hat in your jacket pocket.

Paddys_Gal said...

"white, creamy, masculine, yet delicate"
(anyone else remember this from George Costanza's day as a hand model?)

Interesting subject... I learned the classic "finger" (first photo) as a kid in New Jersey.
I'm not familiar with the variation in the second photo- in fact, I don't know how you mastered that without using your thumb to hold the other fingers in place. I can't seem to do it.

K9 said...

/bark bark bark

well, you know how an animal show its displeasure:
turns butt to you, lifts tail and leaves a
steaming hot brown!

its a gesture AND a fragrance!


Hellpig said...

Version 1 is the Universal gesture

Version 2 is the American gesture,we practiced w/pencils as young school kids until we could hold it without one.

Pete Bogs said...

that's not a party hat, that's a faux hanky, which is just for show... I thought my new suit would make a good backdrop for obscene gestures...

K9 said...

/bark bark bark

and a manicure?????????
dear God.


Pete Bogs said...

there's no manicure in those pictures... I cut my own nails with a regular nail clipper, and that's that... what, you don't get your nails clipped by a vet, k9???

presidentbobo said...


Earlier in the week you said you were making a "man suit". I must say I wasn't expecting it to look so much like a suit...

I've used both #1 and #2. Bird #2 has a little more flourish than #1. Not only do you get the middle finger but you get a little bow from the finger on either side. It is like you get just a little extra F-you for your bird-shooting effort. I say make it a #2 if your going to bother.

K9 said...

/bark bark bark

Hell no! running on concrete all day does the trick

Pete Bogs said...

pres - you can't see the head of hair I've sewn together... it's like Yanni's long, flowing locks... I dance around naked to electronic music, with a hat on, while a camera's rolling... then I slip the hat off and I look just like a "haired" man...

"I say make it a #2 if your going to bother."

we are still talking about fingers, right?

k9 - yeah, I remember Ginger would lose her claws running around on the pool deck all summer...

Zya said...

Number 2 isn't used in Australia - but it IS used in Portugal

and Number 1 doesn't mean anything in Portugal unless you've got the anatomical detail of number 2!

So there ya go.

Ben said...

Number One is quite common in Switzerland. Don't know how they deal with in NYC but over here it's a sure fire way to get into a brawl if you use it in the wrong - or: depending on your mood and viewpoint - right quarters.

Number 2. Just tried it. Makes my fingers cramp. I need to exercise this. Or maybe I have arthritis?

fatty ~ said...

is that you in a suit? thats neat.

Jack K. said...

Bird, how do you know it isn't a body double?

I am familiar with one and two. Never knew about three. And by showing four we know this is not just a magicians trick.


ffff said...

Well. How clever of you to work out how to expose your hands to me without seeming to be vain! Clever man.
Number one is common in Australia. I grew up with number three (Up yours 'v'palm inwards) but found number two far more insulting.

Did you dress up specifically for this hand modelling asignment? Did you want us to see your wonderful taste in ties? And who is working the camera??? Or how is the camera being utilised??

I just KNEW it.
You have very beautiful hands.
Play any musical instruments? They look the right width for clarinet or saxaphone playing.

Thank you for indulging me my fantasies.

The Flabbergasted Heathen said...

Numbers 1, 2, and to a lesser extent number 3 are all used here. Gotta love our multiculturalism!

Blue said...

I use the 1st mostly - the 2nd never seen before - the 3rd is a friendly up yours gesture.

You have really nice hands :-)

BTW - as kids we thought it was really funny to hold up the middle 3 fingers - which gave you the 1st in brackets.... gosh we were hilarious

Jack K. said...

BTW, nice threads. You do clean up good! lol

Pete Bogs said...

I'll try to address all of you here:

yes, that's me in a suit... it's new, and trying it on seemed like a good opportunity to also takes these photos...

yes, the second one is hard to... even harder on the hand you don't write with... it makes the bones in the back of my hand pop... eww

I play drums, though of late the computer is my musical instrument... not metaphorically, either... I use a program on here to create music, as well as use this to write my blog and other stuff...

the "three finger" thing is sometimes used here, too... a person will hold them up and say, "Read between the lines!"

it looks like my admonition to Aunt B held...