The other day I was saying something to Jess that she just wanted to hear but that I didn't really mean. In the process it immediately occurred to me that I should cross my fingers. I did and instantly a sense of calm assurance fell over me. An old friend had resurfaced in a time of need. My only problem was that I forgot to do it behind my back (I'm rusty!), so she saw what was going on and got all bent out of shape.
I have no idea how I forgot about this invaluable tool of social subterfuge. But I wanted to remind everyone of it because somehow in our trek from childhood to irresponsible adult we seem to have misplaced this ingenious instrument of misdirection.
The thing is that we are constantly bombarded with demands on our time, patience, love and respect. Who can be expected to meet this plethora of requirements? Social contact via the Internet and modern technology has rocketed exponentially. It's important to remember that you have a friend in the crossing of fingers.
Sometimes you don't want to go to a party, but you feel your social standing may in some way be in danger if you refuse the inviter's offer. A simple crossing of the fingers will allow you to appear sociable, eager to please and a true friend. "I wouldn't miss it for the world," you say, as you calmly raise your left hand, tuck it high around your back, and slide your pointer digit underneath your middle finger.
Other times you'll be in a meeting with your boss and he'll catch a costly mistake that you made. It is certainly possible to own up to the mistake and then work hard to get it fixed. But with the economy the way that it is, admitting incompetence could cost you a lot. Simply dropping your hand out of sight, crossing your fingers and saying, "That wasn't me, it was Steve in accounting," will wipe the potential pitfall away in moments.
Now, some of you, after copious amounts of usage, will encounter a day of reckoning. The crossing of the fingers causes what scientists call "promise versus reality dissonance." When this happens to you the situation calls for extremely careful navigation. What you need to engage in to overcome the problem is extreme peer pressure punctuated by threats and aggressive intimidation until submission is achieved.
If someone says to you, "You said you were going to pay me for the vase you said you 'accidentally' stole from my home," you need to start off by acting like you are at a complete loss as to what they might be referring to. This will buy you a little time to map out a game plan. When the moment is right you need to immediately snap to putting them on the defensive. "What are you TALKING about?! When did I say that?" If they say something like, "The other day," then you act indignant, like they are so lost and confused that they are a waste of your time, and then make them feel stupid for not being more accurate. "The other day I was at work, did I say this to you when I was at work? Because THAT doesn't make sense considering that YOU don't work with me." That should work, but you must also keep in mind that you have to get the subject changed. "You know what, are you trying to tell me that YOU'VE never stolen anything? What was the last thing you stole?" Put a finger in their chest and lean into them as you say this.
If they somehow persevere in sticking to their point and trying to get you to acknowledge that you said you'd pay them for the crystal vase, then you need to switch gears and say, "Oh, well I had my fingers crossed when I said that." From this point on you need to act as if this is a 100% justification and no other explanation is needed. You need to act like EVERYONE does this, it's de rigueur, and THEY'RE the weird ones for thinking that it's weird. If they try to show you how you're wrong, you need to get pushy and short and act like their points lack even a basic semblance of coherence and they're really just wasting your time. After they make one of their points make a stupid face, bang your chest in exaggerated fashion, and say in an exaggerated voice "Derrr, my name is [their name] and I'm being a wittle baby and I want my ba-ba." (Look, I know that it is ugly, and I know that it is offensive, but it gets the job done, and that's all we're concerned about.)
Like I said, this should cow them into submission, but if they insist that you are still the guilty party then you should probably just cross your fingers and call all of your mutual friends and family and tell them you think said person is an alcoholic, citing several examples and experiences for why this has to be true.
I'll close with some little known facts about crossed fingers:
1. Doing a double crossing of the fingers (i.e. crossing fingers on both hands) cancels out the effect of a single crossing of the fingers. Some people think it is giving you extra power for the misdirection, but it is actually leaving you socially and legally responsible for your lie.
2. Crossing your fingers in church doesn't work. Seriously, I've tried. I've stood in a sanctuary and tried to keep my fingers crossed as I've told my pastor that I have never ripped the tag off a mattress and every time I tried to say it I could feel my fingers slipping off of each other. But I asked him if we could continue our conversation just outside and everything worked fine.
**When I said that I was crossing my fingers.