Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

The ‘Rock On’ Devil Horns

Some people give the thumbs up. Some people prefer the open-armed inviting-the-world-for-a-hug gesture. My preference is the devil horns.

Long since detached from any symbolism of Satanism, anarchy, subversion, or even really rebellion, the fist with raised index and pinky fingers* means, at least to me, simply, “Rock on!” The exact wording may shift from person to person, but the implication is usually one connoting music, enjoyment, a good time, and being into something.

I like it for the positive associations above, and the largely absent negative connotations now that it has been appropriated by the mainstream. I like it because few other people use it as their default, giving me another safe quirk.**I like it because I am into music at a level beyond most and so while I haven’t found a nickname that works or many other appropriate bits of flare, this one works well. (I’ve also recently found a hat that works on me, which is also functional, something I’ve been looking for for nearly a decade – the Acubra).

Most importantly I like it because it doesn’t commit fully to the action. Everyone has had the experience of walking down the street and seeing someone waving at them. While they don’t recognize the person, they wave back thinking maybe they are just being friendly, or perhaps the person is someone who has slipped the memory. No, the instigator was waving at someone else, and now this response wave goes unanswered or awkwardly interjected.

Walking down the street in Hobart the other day I was particularly energetic and so was air drumming. There may or may not have even been a song in my head. Two middle-aged women noticed me from a park bench as I passed and made a comment. “Look at him.” Clearly they were talking about me, and I wanted to give them a positive acknowledgement. Or were they talking about someone else, and thus any comment I made would make me seem confused? Simple solution. I threw up the devil horns without looking over. A giggly “Yeah, rock out!” confirmed that they were. Had they not been, it would have just been another part of my stage performance.

* This is not to be confused with the loose fist with extended index, pinky, and thumb, which is American Sign Language for “I love you.” This small difference has led to many a mixed message being sent to bands playing live shows, DJs spinning particularly rocking sets, and even the occasional radio or television.

** Even fewer people use “Rock on” as their salutation in letters in place of overused ones like “Sincerely.” The only person I can point to is the Class President from my senior year at Duke who signed all his emails that way. He went on to become a lawyer, but he also went on to compete in the US Air Guitar Championships under the name Juris Rocktor, so that’s something.

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This entry was posted on January 30, 2012 by in Australia, Self Analysis, Tasmania (Hobart).

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