Humor by Greg Schwem

Like millions of Americans, I begin each year vowing to lose a few pounds. As 2013 dawns, I plan to slightly modify my goal, focusing on a single part of my body.

Specifically my thumbs.

I can't explain it, but in 2012, the appendages at each end of my hands seemed to get a little thick in the middle. How else to explain my degenerating ability to send text messages? Each time I tap the "b" key, I invariably hit "v," "n" -- or hit all three simultaneously. "Want to play basketball after breakfast?" turned into "Want to play nvasketvball after neakfast ?" Mistakes abound no matter where I place my portly thumbs.

How did this happen? Can thumbs get fatter simply by touching calorie-laden food? Must I now grasp the occasional McDonald's french fry between my fingers, saving my thumbs from unsightly calories?

Confused and slightly alarmed, I called my longtime buddy Chris, a certified hand therapist who has seen much worse than fat thumbs. Severed thumbs for example.

"You have to help me," I pleaded. "My thumbs no longer work."

"If this is about your golf game, your thumbs are the least of your problems," he replied.

"It's not that," I said. "I can't text anymore. My thumbs are too large."

"Don't worry, Greg, lots of guys your age have that problem."

This was starting to sound like a Viagra commercial. "I'm serious, Chris. What can I do? Is there a thumb band procedure you can perform?" I asked, referring to the lap band surgery for extremely overweight individuals.

"Fingers don't get bigger as you get older, Greg, but they do change shape as arthritis sets in," Chris explained. "And your thumbs are the first to wear out because you use them every time you use your hands. Try picking up a paper clip without your thumbs."

"I don't need to pick up a paper clip. I just need to ensure that my thoughts are being properly transferred to my phone. Last week I texted my wife, 'I'll be home for dinner at six."'


"My fat thumbs typed, 'I'll be home for dinner and sex.'"

"You didn't hit 'send,' did you?"

"Unfortunately, I did. "

"What happened?"

"I got neither that evening."

Chris quickly diagnosed that I may be suffering from "BlackBerry thumb," an affliction named for chronic texters like me. Joint swelling is a common side effect. To avoid it, experts recommend everything from the obvious (don't text!) to the embarrassing (thumb stretching exercises, anybody?) to the extreme (how about a cortisone injection before firing off that message to your boss?)

Or, Chris said, I could switch from my BlackBerry to a smartphone with a virtual keyboard, thereby causing less exertion on my thumbs.

"Sorry I can't be more helpful," he said.

Well, desperate circumstances call for ingenious solutions. I held my BlackBerry in my palm and extended my little finger. I texted, "Typing w my pinky" and sent it to myself. Amazingly, no mistakes, never mind that the sentence did take about 30 seconds to complete. Still, maybe this new form of texting would, if nothing else, get me back in my wife's good graces.

So in 2013 I resolve to give my thumbs a break, hoping they will become thinner. My smallest fingers will pick up the slack. Problem solved, I holstered my phone and put on a shirt I had received for Christmas. Same size I've been wearing for the past 10 years: 16 1/2 collar, 35 sleeve. But as I attempted to secure the top button, I nearly choked. The collar was clearly too small.

Had holiday eating caused the body part holding up my head to gain weight? Probably. But I prefer to think it's due to years of balancing my phone under my chin.

"BlackBerry neck" sucks.

Humorist Greg Schwem is a stand-up comedian and author of Text Me If You're Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad

Humor & Funny Stories - It's Your Cellphone That Makes You Fat! - Greg Schwem Humor

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