Arm Signals

by cunningcrowbooks

Young men are cursed with the need to display their worthdame for the benefit of other men and, of course, women. This male occupation we find throughout the living world. In the Mission District and elsewhere I’ve been interested in the symbology of arms. Guys – and in my long years of observation I’ve never seen a woman do this – who are driving cars or trucks stick their arms out the window, and how they do it means things.

My guess is a mere protruding elbow means, “I’m too old for this. I’m married. I have four kids. But still…check it out!” Next we find the entire forearm stretched along the window-sill, not hanging down at all, but resting horizontally. To me this says, “I’m not so bad-ass as I was last year, but look out anyway.”

Then we begin to get serious. An entire forearm will be hung out the window, straight down. Uh-oh. But check out the hand. If the palm is faced inward, toward the door, that’s one thing. But if the hand is turned so that the palm is facing out, that signifies a man who will face the whole goddam world if necessary, and with a bitter smile on his lips. But worst of all, if that turned-out hand holds a burning cigarette between its pointer and middle fingers – well, just hang back a little at the next red light. Don’t pull up next to the guy if you are not particularly interested in glaring contests, especially if you don’t want to listen to boom-boom music as loud as the end of the world.