My father was a remarkable man: A child of the Great Depression, WWII Veteran, provider, husband, church leader. But somewhere along the line, he picked up a trait that is quite uncommon in my generation. I can only imagine that it was a holdover from his.
For some reason, when he wanted to draw attention to things, especially things written on chalkboards, he would point at them - with his middle finger.
Yes, he would point with "Tall Man".
Generations, since ancient Greece until now, have obviously become adept at using this finger for a different kind of emphasis.
It was something I overlooked until the day he became my priest quorum advisor. He was a great teacher, but you could count on him to write something important on the chalkboard, and then point at it with his middle finger. And he would keep pointing forever, while he communicated his thought. I would squirm. I would cringe - much to my discomfort, and much to the delight of my fellow priests. Remember, as teenagers - male teenager - most of us were already functioning at a high levels of both parental-embarrassment and immaturity.
One time I gathered the courage to talk to him about it. I explained that the middle finger was "the bird", and it was really bad to use that finger all by itself to point at things. His response? "It's the longest finger. Why wouldn't I point with it?" I made my case that the index finger is called the pointer for a reason! He assured me that he understood, and thakfully stopped the offensive gesture - until the next Sunday.
It was a cringeworthy moment, and my friends were quick to tease. It was almost as bad as our Sunday School teacher, a wonderful immigrant from the Orient, who could not pronounce the "L' sound in the word "fluctuate". To this day I do not understand why the word "fluctuate" came up so often in religious instruction. But it did - and believe me, we heard it every single time.
So why am I bringing this up after all these years? Today my EC and I were walking across a parking lot and she sweetly asked me, "Do you remember when you told me about how your dad would point with his middle finger?"
"Yes..why?" I asked warily.
"I noticed that yesterday when you were teaching Sunday School you were doing that too."
Oh no! It's genetic?!
How long have I been doing this? I love the chalkboard - but has it been my enemy? Have the youth of the ward been secretly mocking me all this time? Are the FOMLs shamed?
Sigh. It guess it is inevitable. I am becoming my father.