It's time for all of us to go off on a limb


This is an emotional plea directed to anyone within the sound of my written voice who talks with their hands.

Please: Stop, quit, desist, cease. Enter rehab. Borrow a pair of handcuffs from me.

I know why it's done and who is likely to do it: preachers, proselytizers and politicians. Certain professions think it helps to sell products.

I've heard some nationalities are more inclined than others.

There's a congresswoman we all know. Her vocal cords are attached to her arm muscles. She looks like she's signing for the deaf.

Maybe someone coached her.

“Wave your arms all over the place. They'll think you know what you're talking about.”

I can't watch. She hypnotizes me.

I'm told it shows that the speaker is engaging, vivacious, energetic, and passionate. Save it for a bear.

They say you should “make yourself big” if confronted by a bear. That's what waving your arms around does: it makes you big.

Big and annoying.

Hand talking is done all the time in television commercials, especially in furniture store ads.

From deep in the ottomans a blonde walks toward the camera gesturing all over the place.

Again, it's to make you think there are deals to be made and the furniture can't be beat.

It (hand talking) must work, because it's been going on for a long time in marketing. I wish it would stay there.

But it has moved into daily life. I see it in stores. I see it on the streets. At a safe distance, of course.

We're the only animal that does it.

Sure, there are the mating motions we've all seen on “Animal Planet,” but this is different. At least, I assume it's different.

How we express ourselves is important. It involves word choice, enunciation, composure, and body language.

Or it can look like the flailing of someone with a bag over their head.

Remember cops who directed traffic? Or maybe you have seen them in films? They were masters with their hand motions and whistles, weren't they?

That's where it belongs.

You've heard of “semaphore”?

“A system of sending messages by holding the arms or two flags or poles in certain positions according to an alphabetic code.”

Right now it's sending this message: “Stop, quit, desist, cease.”

Over in Hawaii, women wear grass skirts and tell stories with their hands and arms. Fine. Again, that's different.

Their speechless stories are told by gestures and hips.

Signers for the deaf, semaphorers (new word), and hula dancers, and that's it. If you aren't one of those, don't raise your hand.

There's help. There has to be.

Ask a friend: “Do I annoy you when I talk with my hands?”

If the answer is “No,” disregard everything I've said.

It's possible you are unaware of what you are doing. The same goes for most of us who interject filler words, you know, when we express ourselves. The primary offender in 2020 is “like,” but “you know” is right up there.

If I encounter a hand talker who uses filler words, I excuse myself and say I have to go home and check on the roast in the oven.

There is nothing more important today than ridding the planet of hand talkers. I think we can all agree on that.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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