Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?

Does the above quote give you cringe-inducing flashbacks from your high school English class?  For me, the answer is definitely yes.  My freshman English teacher was rather rotund, and had serious issues with sweating, drooling and spitting.  Did I mention I sat in the front row?  But I digress . . .

Brownie points for those of you who recalled that this line was written by our good ole’ pal William Shakespeare.  (Act1, Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet, to be exact)  I remember reading this particular line for the first time and being extremely confused.  “What’s the deal with all of this talk about thumb biting?”  “Were these guys just really hungry?”  “Maybe, back in ‘Fair Verona,’ eating human thumb was some sort of delicacy?”

After Cliff Notes explained to me that “thumb biting” was considered the ultimate insult back in the day, I was only slightly less confused.  I mean, I don’t know about you, but I could think of a ton of worse ways to offend someone than by merely nibbling on your own finger.  After all, I have had both nail-biting and thumb-sucking friends my entire life.  If I took umbrage every time they actively engaged one of their digits, I would be one seriously unhappy person.

Why am I writing about Shakespeare on a television recap blog, you ask?  Here’s the thing . . . in the past two days, I have watched two reality shows (The Bad Girls Club and The Real World . . . don’t judge me, please) that have featured a female spitting in another individual’s face.  The two situations that gave rise to the alleged salival exchange were markedly different from one another. 

In the first, the spitter was responding to an incident in which the spittee, a sworn enemy of the spitter, had thrown the spitter’s makeup out the window of the house where both parties were residing.  In the second, the spitter was “play fighting” with the spittee, a male companion of hers with whom she had been sexually intimate just hours before, and things got out of control. 

In this second case, the spittee responded by erupting into a rampage and tossing furniture around the room.  He came very close to hitting the former object of his desires.  This latter incident in particular had me torn.  After all, The Real World Spitter just happened to be my favorite castmember on the show, a woman who, up to this point, had proven herself to be a highly intelligent, likeable and classy human being.  Plus, as I mentioned earlier,  her and the Spittee had had SEX before, so exchanging bodily fluids was certainly nothing new to this pair.  (More on that in another blog entry.)

Wathcing these events unfold, I couldn’t help but be reminded of yet another much-publicized incident that took place a few years ago on the moronic reality dating show Flava of Love.  (Why anyone in their right mind would want to date a scrawny toothless middle-aged dude with a big clock around his neck is beyond me.)  On that show, a woman nicknamed “Pumpkin?” (don’t ask)  spit in the face of a woman named “New York” because the two were fighting over the aforementioned scrawny toothless clock-wearing dude.

I have been told, that like thumb-biting back in Shakespeare’s time, spitting in one’s face is considered the ultimate form of offense today.  Really?  Was I absent the day they taught face-spitting in school?  (Maybe not, if you recall who my high school English teacher was.)  How else could I have missed this important Spit Zeitgeist?

First of all, spitting in someone’s face is just not something I would ever consider doing.  (For starters, I have really bad aim.  I’d probably just end up drooling all over myself.)  Second, don’t get me wrong, spitting is pretty nasty, and there aren’t a whole lot of people whose saliva I’d like to have on my face.  But is this really the worst thing you could do to another human being?  Because I, for one, would rather be spit at than punched in the face any day of the week and twice on Sunday, based on the associated medical costs alone.  We are, after all, in a recession economy . . .

So, am I totally out of touch regarding the whole Spitting Phenomenon?  Perhaps someone could enlighten me regarding what is clearly a hot button issue for our generation . . .

1 Comment

Filed under Reality Television

One response to “Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?

  1. Alice

    Hilarious blog. I like your sense of humor….but at the risk of showing my ignorance….what does zeitgeist mean. Where was I in high school when they taught about zeitgeist. Thanks for the laughs.

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