The Ramifications

I have weird thumbs. They’re at a funny angle to the rest of my hand, but that’s very me. There’s a lot about me that’s unique; that’s a funny angle to the rest of life.

In our elementary school, students picked instruments in third grade that they would play in fourth. I wanted to play one of the big brass band instruments. The older kids all sat in a line in the cafeteria—a flute, a tuba, a saxophone, an oboe, a bassoon and some sort of horn. I stopped in front of the girl who was playing the trumpet. She was a fifth grader, so much older than my third grade self. She was tall and pretty, with long blonde hair and preppy clothes; in other words, the complete opposite of me. I was short and a little pudgy, with brown hair and hand-me-down clothing. 

“Here.” She extended the trumpet my way.

“I don’t know what to do with it.” I wanted to know though.

She brought the trumpet back up to her own mouth. “Like this.” She puckered her lips up against the mouthpiece and somehow made a pretty sound. (Or, as pretty as trumpets can be).

I took the trumpet gently. I too wanted to make a pretty sound. But when I held it up to my mouth the way I had seen the older girl do, but nothing happened. 

“You’re doing it wrong,” she told me, taking the trumpet back. “Like this.” She demonstrated again.

I took the trumpet back with a dubious glance at her. 

“You have to get your lips better on the mouth piece. Sort of like a fish-face, but sort of not.”

I tried again, but I still couldn’t make the instrument make any sound.

“I think your lips are too big,” she informed me, in the voice of a much older and wiser student. “They’re a little…weird.”

I heard that all the time. I was weird because my clothes weren’t brand label. I was weird because of the food I brought for lunch. I was weird because I always had my face shoved in a book. But this was different. She wasn’t talking about something I was doing, something I had a choice in. She was talking about…me. 

I realized then that I wasn’t right for brass or wind instruments. I didn’t fit. My lips were, as she had so eloquently put it, weird.

With that, a string player was born. I liked the violin. It was small and compact and made lots of high notes; I was a soprano back then, and had a firm appreciation for the higher register. But the violin cost money to rent, money that we didn’t have. In the back of the tiny orchestra room where not many students gathered were two racks; one rack had a line of cellos, and the other a line of basses. The school loaned them out to students, using the appeal to finances to draw them away from the shiny appeal of the violin. And I went for it. I chose the cello because it was not quite as heavy as the bass.

Playing the cello ended up working out for me. I played on the school’s cello until I got to high school, at which point I started teaching private cello lessons for a downtown music store to help pay off my own cello. Eventually I played at weddings and in symphonies. So while I started out with the cello because I didn’t have any other option that fit me, it became a part of me. 

Not all teasing works out that well. That girl teased me, and it ended up leading me to something positive I still do to this day. But teasing and bullying don’t always end positively. There are many ramifications that never get considered. And things stay with you. The good, and the bad.

My thumbs never really bothered me until I started playing the cello. They kept me from holding my bow properly. To this day, they still do. The other kids would make fun of me; my hand gets tired easily from trying to hold the bow, so I have to switch periodically to an almost club-like grip while playing to give myself a break. My teacher used to offer me prizes to hold the bow properly, but I never really could. And in my head, I thought that if she was offering me something for the desired end result, there must be something wrong with me if I couldn’t change myself. 

My thumbs have always been the way they are. But I never knew they weren’t normal until I realized there were things they kept me from doing. Until my teacher told me they were wrong, my grip was wrong. That’s the funny thing, about being weird. Weird isn’t weird until someone points it out to you.

Once you know, it’s like none of you fits. So sometimes, it is one hundred percent better to say nothing. To not know.

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86 thoughts on “The Ramifications

  1. lizard100 says:

    I’m fascinated to see those thumbs now.

  2. mdscoggins says:

    Loved it.. Weird is truly a perception

  3. polyphonyof1voice says:

    Girl, Interrupted,
    Thank you for writing a thought-provoking piece. I so related to your words.
    Good day,
    Polyphonyof1voice

  4. This is a Beautiful art piece. Well written

  5. Hi, I am Danyealah and I am a young writer/blogger/poet. Reading your post really made me reflect on my own life. Growing up I was made fun of for the darkness of my skin-complexion ( I am African-American), and have since then always felt very different. I too thought something was wrong with me. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

  6. rtrube54 says:

    Sad how the things that are different and make me “me” can’t be seen as uniquely beautiful rather than weird. This is a beautifully written piece. Thank you.

  7. Jgncs says:

    Great post. Congrats.

  8. shaheenmagsi says:

    Loved this piece! And that has a lot to do with the beauty in your ‘weird’ness. Embrace it ❤

  9. cattyyt says:

    I love your account !!!! ♥

  10. sunnybudda says:

    You have a beautiful way of wording things. This is such an awesome read.

  11. Teresa says:

    Loved the post! So well written…I couldn’t stop reading.

  12. marymtf says:

    As you say, it’s not always possible to turn a negative into a positive, but good on you for succeeding.
    ps. Actresses are always pumping up their lips these days, so perhaps yours have come full circle and are now in fashion. :_)

  13. yaronzeevik says:

    Don’t be bothered by your thumbs each and everyone of us is different and as an individual we need to take our uniqueness as an advantage and as a strength!

  14. hapi09 says:

    Cant get my eyes off of this piece. thanks

  15. yaronzeevik says:

    When they calling me weird at first it was painful be but as I grew up I manage to make it from an insult to a complement..why? Because u didn’t want them to manage to hurt my feelings and because the weird people are the ones that leap the society forward

  16. ann3wsa says:

    its beautiful 🙂

  17. megadan777 says:

    Brilliant story 😀

  18. opejy says:

    Reblogged this on opejy's Blog and commented:
    Hnmm

  19. That’s great perseverance, sometimes you’ve got to follow your heart, no matter what the world tells you. “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world, since I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” Following your dreams is an uphill battle most of the time when you’re living for God.

  20. Nicely written. Sometimes people point out our weirdness to hide theirs.

  21. i am a basketball player i cant twist my elbow to give my hand a proper angle i.e the way most people shoot so i shifted my entire hand more towards my shoulder and my shooting improved dramatically.what i am saying is we re survivors and learn to adapt.

  22. I thought I was the only one! Great post.

  23. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  24. I was always the weird kid too, the out cast. Thanks for this. Loved it!

  25. packsandroid says:

    Blog is good
    Thank you
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  26. kajamaries says:

    Wow. This was truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

  27. being wordy says:

    Even cowgirls get the blues

  28. I enjoyed this piece very much. I can relate to the money issues and the feelings of being different. I’m glad you turned it into something positive for yourself and for everyone that’s been lucky enough to read this post.

  29. Dani says:

    This is beautifully written. Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing.

    We have all been there. We all have some type of “weird thumbs”. We all do.

  30. telitru says:

    Yes, discretion is the better part of valor.

  31. jennymorg says:

    If it makes you feel better, you’re not the only one that had that problem. Ive got quite ‘weird’ thumbs since the nails are really wide and my thumb is really fat and my violin teacher always picked up on my bow grip!
    Great words by the way. I can totally relate to it.

  32. Weird is the new normal.

    I was the little kid in the 6th grade that wanted to play Baritone. I couldn’t play the strings, but I could play the wind instruments. Great story, thanks.

  33. J.E.S says:

    fabulous writing. Great flow. I always wore hand me downs too! Never had the cool clothes!

  34. I see you did your home work girl. Now we need to get some real laws that will help, and keep people like that off the streets for good.

  35. lacheylle12 says:

    Reblogged this on lacheylle12 and commented:
    Such a great story.

  36. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! Weird thumbs are finally in, I guess! Seriously, though, this is very well written. The title creates curiosity. The picture creates interest. The content, well, that keeps us reading! This is something I think we all can relate to. Bravo to you for pushing through to becoming a fine celloist (how do you spell that?) and writer!

  37. rhonda84 says:

    From one beautifully weird person to another, thank you for writing your story.

  38. lulapereiraa says:

    vivi la vida al miximo!!

  39. sspsbsss says:

    The strangest thing is that we are all weird in our own way, which, strangely, makes us normal 🙂 Beautiful writing.

  40. Hemu Saini says:

    Being normal is new weirdness in this so called advanced civilization (not world). Beautifully written, thanks for sharing.

  41. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. You earned it with this post for sure.

    Bruce

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