Remember the character named Boris in James Bond’s GoldenEye ? One who set of the bomb in the pen by clicking it? That was a case of fidgeting. All of us fidget. We fidget when we are stressed, anxious, waiting impatiently for something to happen or simply trying to solve a particularly interesting but a tough problem.
Many of us would put out our tongue or pucker our lips when we try to paint a small bounded area so as not let the paint flow on to the border. Fidgeting results in a lot of funny actions. Pen clicking is one of them. Playing with a ring takes on many forms. Some continually pull the ring out and put it back, while other keep rotating it over the finger using the thumb. Some cannot resist popping the blister in the blister pack. Finger drumming is another sign of boredom or tension.
Playing with a rubber band is another classic fidgeting exercise. Of course very often you smart yourself on that. This is what happened to Feynman with his friend Paul. Feynman in his book relates –
“For instance, one day I was absent mindedly playing with one of those measuring tapes that snap back into your hand when you push a button. The tape would always slap over and hit my hand, and it hurt a little bit. “Geez!” I exclaimed. “What a dope I am. I keep playing with this thing, and it hurts me every time.”
He said, “You don’t hold it right,” and took the damn thing, pulled out the tape, pushed the button, and it came right back. No hurt.
“Wow! How do you do that?” I exclaimed.
“Figure it out!”
For the next two weeks I’m walking all around Princeton, snapping this tape back until my hand is absolutely raw. Finally I can’t take it any longer. “Paul! I give up! How the hell do you hold it so it doesn’t hurt?”
“Who says it doesn’t hurt? It hurts me too!””
A very popular fidgeting in the office is twirling the paper weight. With mobiles the fad seems to be clicking the mobile cover on and off, or snapping the keyboard in a QWERTY mobile in and out. I think the most popular one surely must be nose picking. However disgusting it may be it is one of the most common. Most nose pickers must be able to reduce their tension or anxiety very effectively. Why would so many do it? Interestingly I learnt that the medical name for this habit in the extreme is rhinotillexomania.
The fine art of nose picking starts with using the appropriate finger with the choice of the correct nostril. Then you tilt the head to the exact position that allows maximum reach into the nostril. The choice of finger varies. The widely used finger is the forefinger. Though, I have seen use of thumb too. It only happens when the nostril size is really large. I am informed by some friendly zoologists that a humming-bird can easily get into the nostril of the big moose. However I am digressing. It takes skill in leveraging that small bit of the nail in the forefinger to actually get underneath the dried mucus and then extricate the prize out of the nose. Then you put the hand down to your side and roll and squeeze the piece and then flick it in the atmosphere around you.
By now the reader must be disgusted. If you have not done this ever it only means that you do not have a nose or you lack the necessary fingers.