NOT ALL THUMBS ALIKE

By Audrey Fraizer

We have a bet going in the office over keeping potted plants alive the longest, excluding our department director—Kris Berg—because she has a green thumb and probably has plants thriving in her office and certainly at her home dating back generations to pioneers crossing the prairie pushing handcarts.

The rest of our thumbs aren’t nearly so green and it’s readily apparent, particularly in the vicinity of the three-person editorial department. I guess you could say that we represent the Bermuda Triangle of potted plants and fresh flowers. Set a potted African violet, Jade plant, or Spider plant or a spring bouquet of Daffodils given in celebration of a birthday in the area bounded by our three desks and their green leaves, stems, and flowers are soon to mysteriously droop into office air. Our triangle simply sucks the life right out of them.

Contrary to the Bermuda Triangle, however, I don’t think it’s the paranormal at work, or the power of the mythical Atlantis drawing energy away from our greenery. Our building resides in a section of Salt Lake City once notorious for vice and corruption, but that was more than a century ago and spirits of the past hellbent on getting back at the present would probably choose something other than my azalea to avenge their darkness.

I think it comes down to finesse and the botanical color of a thumb. Ours aren’t green.

Personally, I wouldn’t want a green thumb anymore than gardeners with chlorophyll-stained thumbs envy the black ink-smudged thumbs of editorial types, metaphorically speaking. Some thumbs are more contented when stuck out in traffic to catch a free ride across town or tapping on the space bar of a keyboard.

Maybe that’s the subtle and suitable excuse. My thumbs, and the thumbs of my associates and editorial predecessors, are not shaped for pinching plants or holding shovels for digging around in the dirt (except perhaps metaphorically speaking). Our thumbs are best in repetitive motion and, apparently, the same goes for dolphins.

Maybe you haven’t heard.

An article in The Onion has grave implications for the primacy of humankind, as marine biologists at the Hawaii Oceanographic Institute recently reported that dolphins, or family Delphinidae, have evolved opposable thumbs on their pectoral fins. According to research scientist Dr. James Aoki, the opposable digits thus far encountered appear to be fully functional, making it possible for dolphins–believed to be capable of faster and more complex cogitation than man—to fashion tools, construct pulley and lever systems, and give the thumbs up.

If that’s the case, and all dolphins evolve thumbs, maybe everyone should be worried about losing jobs to dolphins. I’m sure dolphins could write swell stories, although, in your favor, thumbs on pectoral fins would take major re-engineering of CAD terminals.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :
Audrey Fraizer is Managing Editor of the Journal, and is poster child for an editorial personality. She has a focused streak difficult to distract, calls library research a hobby, and believes she fools her co-workers into thinking she’s listening when she’s actually not.

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