Talk to the hands.

I am a big fan of people who talk with their hands. Ok, just to clarify, I’m not referring to sign language or sock puppets, but rather people who accompany all conversation with extravagant hand gestures.   sock puppet

I have a tendency towards conversational flailing myself and have been known on occasion, to catch my nostril with a rogue fingernail or knock off my own glasses during a particularly spirited and gesticulating discussion. But aside from the essential klutziness that peppers my own speech, there is something refreshingly emphatic about people who illustrate their point by jabbing at the air. While an undulating hand movement, in the style of  Sale of the Century, renders the most pedestrian of objects interesting, fluttering phalanges transform banal blather into veritable theatre.

When I was small my father posited the suggestion that were my hands to be tied behind my back I would be rendered mute. For the record, he never actually tested that theory, although he was more than capable of silencing me with other proven methods. At this point, it would be positively Disney-esque to reveal that my youthful prattle was quelled by toffee or honeycomb, when in fact, the explanation is far more prosaic – he was a controlling domestic bully whose disciplinary measures would not have been out of place at Guantanamo Bay.

Moving on.

Last weekend I met a fabulous gay couple at a Jose James gig – Hell-oooohhh Jazz hands!     jazz hands

Frequently, it must be said, your fabulous gay man combines warmth, wit and charm with well considered and distinctly illustrative hand gestures to back up whichever hilarious anecdote he is regaling you with. I fit right in; although there is the ever-present danger someone will be accidently bitch slapped in the conversational cross fire.

In a bid to ingratiate myself quickly – for time stands still for no aging fag hag – I launched into a tale of recent embarrassment led ostensibly by my hands. I was on a sales reconnoiter in one of Victoria’s goldfield towns. True to its Victorian era heritage, this ultra conservative country town west north west of Melbourne housed three businesses of varying fortune that I wanted to check out. Chatting with helpful staff at the first two I was optimistic about visiting the third and most coveted.

My preamble began with the usual hand flourish – the gesture that in its eloquent insouciance says, ‘Hello friend, am I here to ram my wares down your metaphoric throat? Nay! I am merely scouting for opportunity in a pleasantly non-pushy manner.’

Ok – I grant you that appears to be an awful lot conveyed by an artful wave, but accompanied by my verbal bells and whistles everyone gets the idea.


The teen recipient of this initial overture backed away in search of a senior staffer better equipped to deal with my wild eyed delivery and theatrical arms.

“Um, our buyer, Mr – (*don’t remember, didn’t much care) is busy but Sandra is coming out to talk to you.”

Thank you, young sales clerk!

Sandra pounded down the aisle and stood arms akimbo before me with a face suggestive of a recently sucked lemon.

“Jane, is it?”  sour faced woman

“Yes! Hi Sandra thanks so much for popping out to see me…blah blah…appreciate your time…blah blah…don’t want to sell you anything…blah blah…really value your insight into brands that are meeting expectation and those that aren’t…snore…yada yada…so if you wouldn’t mind just talking me through…”

Ignoring the mutinous look on her face, I launched into a well-practiced routine and utilised the sweeping game show hand/arm gesture as I spoke. Motioning towards a bank of window displays I assumed Sandra was swept up with me, and my damn chatty hands. Not so. She remained rooted defiantly to the spot.

Some twelve steps away I stopped and pivoted.


I strode confidently back to her.

“Or, we could just talk here.”

“Mr – (*Cannot retain because I am JUST not sufficiently interested) is not buying anything and he doesn’t want to talk to you and I don’t want to talk to you either.”

I just don’t thrive on this stuff and I kind of wanted to head butt Sandra at this point.

I left, walking and talking at Sandra’s righteously retreating back and eventually extracted the necessary information from Fred, a sales assistant hired in 1952.

Back at the jazz gig, my two new fabulous gay acquaintances were with me through the entire reconstruction. Three gins ensured the performance was flawlessly comic and not merely a sad indictment on my particular brand of sales cluelessness.

Borderline besties now, it was time to appreciate the jazz. Oh, that’s right…I don’t like jazz.

Look, I don’t mind the occasional spot of Latin jazz for who among us doesn’t secretly enjoy a bit of merengue? And what could be more diverting than nodding along to the Dave Brubeck quartet and sipping on a Tom Collins? It’s all that incomprehensible free style stuff that I find so obnoxious.

Jose James combines Jazz and Hip Hop, which perhaps unsurprisingly fails to double my enjoyment. It was with enormous effort I restrained myself from leaping on stage and biffing him on the back of the head after a particularly protracted session of vocal sampling.

Jose is a great looking guy. He had a coterie of young mostly female fans flanking the stage and vying for his attention. This seemed to be achieved with interpretive dance. It’s important to realize here that everyone looks stupid dancing to jazz music but hats off for trying. I watched as people valiantly attempted coordinated movement to non-syncopated rhythm.

Unless you are prepared to youtube some signature moves from Bob Fosse  bob fosse 2    , best stick with head nodding, finger clicking and toe tapping….man.

Back to topic, so we are leaving the venue and everyone is waxing lyrical about the gig including my new fabulous gay acquaintances’ (FGA’s) who are all, ‘so did you just love it?’ and in a previous incarnation I would have squealed and flapped in appreciative unison, but not these days. Today its both hands outstretched, fingers splayed in a resounding gesture of NOOOOOOOOO!!!!

hands no

About Learning the hard way

Jane is of the belief that her life's purpose may well be to serve as a warning to others. She is unsure as to why she speaks in the third person...
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